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1988 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee Lead Belly

Lead Belly

  • Year:
  • Inducted by:
    Pete Seeger
  • Category:
    Early Influences

Hall of Fame Essay


Andrew Schwartz

In a 1965 issue of “Sing Out!” Folklore researcher Frederic Ramsey Jr. wrote of a man called Leadbelly: "The miracle is that he survived and endured so much for forty-nine years; that he lived to sing uninhibitedly for fifteen more years; and that he died peacefully in a bed. 

The odds against this survival were nearly incalculable in the frame of the period and the place to which he was born.” In the course of a life alternately tragic and triumphant, Leadbelly became one of America’s greatest folk singers and composers as well as its leading exponent of the twelve-string guitar.  

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony Program Cover 1988
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