A throwback to a long-gone era even at the time of his recordings, Pink Anderson (1900-74) was a historic figure whose music included blues, folk music, ragtime, and traditional ballads.
Anderson was born in South Carolina and early on sang in the streets for pennies. He was self-taught as a guitarist and toured throughout the Southeast with a variety of medicine shows during 1915-1945, picking up work wherever he could. He was employed not only as a musician and a singer but as a dancer and comedian. Anderson recorded four titles in 1928 but did not make another record until Harlem Street Spirituals in 1950 for Riverside. At that time he recorded such traditional folk material as “John Henry,’ ‘The Ship Titanic,” and “Wreck of the Old 97.”
Anderson continued to work at parties, street fairs, and medicine shows during the first half of the 1950s before retiring for a time due to ill health. But in 1961 the Bluesville label recorded three albums of unaccompanied performances by Anderson, documenting him in Spartanburg, South Carolina. The titles of the three records, Carolina Blues Man, Medicine Show Man, and Ballad & Folksinger, vol. 3, sum up Pink Anderson’s life well and are a large slice of the repertoire that he had performed during the previous 35 years.
Pink Anderson stayed active on a part-time basis up until the time of his death in 1974. His music represents the Carolina blues, and the tradition of the constantly traveling folk singer.
Photo by Sam Charters