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Bessie Tucker was an American classic female, country, and Texas blues, singer and songwriter. Her best-known songs are "Penitentiary" and "Fryin' Pan Skillet Blues". Little is known of her life outside the music industry. Her known recording history comprised just twenty-four tracks, seven of which were alternate takes.

bessie tucker


Tucker hailed from East Texas. Based on references in her songs, researcher Max Haymes has speculated that she may have been based in Greenville.

She had a light complexion and a small frame, but was said to be "a strong singer with a dark voice". In August 1928, she recorded a number of songs, most of which she wrote herself, for the Victor label in Memphis, Tennessee. She was accompanied on piano by the Dallas-born K.D. Johnson. This recording session yielded her best-known song, "Penitentiary". The subject matter of the song was allegedly not unknown to Tucker.

A second session in Dallas followed in October 1929. There she was again accompanied by Johnson, and by the guitar playing of Jesse Thomas. After this, nothing more is known of her life. Only one photograph of Tucker survives.

In 1960, Dallas pianist Alex Moore told an interviewer that Tucker and Ida May Mack, who had shared the 1928 recording session with Tucker, were both "tough cookies ... don't mess with them". However, in a 1972 conversation, the pianist was unable to recall the name of either singer, leading the interviewer to suspect that he had drawn his own conclusions from their recordings. Music buffs can only affirm that Tucker sang in the same style as Texas singers Texas Alexander, Victoria Spivey and Texas Bill Day, and that her lyrics refer to railroads that all served East Texas and Dallas.

Some of Tucker's tracks, and those of Mack, were made available on a compilation album. All of Tucker's recordings have been made available by Document Records 

She was not related to Sophie Tucker.

Source: Wikipedia (The Free Encyclopedia)