Lot 772: One of the premier American folksingers (1888-1949), he spent years in and out of jail for murder and attempted murder, recorded 'Goodnight, Irene,' 'Boll Weevil,' 'The Midnight Special,' and others. ALS signed "H. Ledbetter," one page, 8.5 x 11, University of Minnesota letterhead, December 1, 1948. Letter to his manager, Marjorie Fairbanks, in part (spelling and grammar retained): "i was so glad to Here From you and the Boys tell them Hello and Be sure to take good Care of you witch i no they willâ€¦i just cam Back from my tour it was a Killer it was right on the Dot we mad 12 concerts i did my self i sure did in joy it i rode in a air plan on the 18th the first one in my life i love it well you will get som letters from mr Wilderâ€¦so the Peoples eat me up so take care of your self Alen Lomax Has Ben Trying His Best to Pull me out for some ingament But i Dont Pay no mind i would love to com over there so long Baby is all right." In fine condition, with toning to edges and trivial scattered spots of discoloration.Marjorie Fairbanks and her son Austen had taken over Lead Belly's professional management in 1948 after a falling out between him and the famous folklorist John Lomax, who had been acting as his manager. Ledbetter had just returned from a concert and lecture series sponsored in part by the University of Minnesota in November 1948, during which he was accompanied by Austen and performed throughout the state. Alan Lomax, the son of John Lomax, maintained a good relationship with Lead Belly and was responsible for most of his recordings; but despite his good relationship with the younger Lomax, Ledbetter seems to be reassuring Fairbanks that he does not intend to take him on as a manager again. He would soon go on a trip to Europe to perform, but time in Paris would be cut short due to his deteriorating health and the tragic diagnosis of ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease). Ledbetter returned to the United States at the end of May 1949, and played only two more shows in his life before passing away in December. Autograph material from Ledbetter is exceedingly scarce, and this letter has particularly good musical content in relation to both his tour and Lomax.
RR Auction's Fine Autographs and Artifacts Auction 466
Wednesday, 9th December 2015
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