Lucille Bogan Cause of Death: The Mystery Behind the Blues Legend

Lucille Bogan was one of the most influential and controversial blues singers of the 1920s and 1930s. She was known for her explicit lyrics, which covered topics such as sex, prostitution and alcoholism. She also recorded under the pseudonym Bessie Jackson, and collaborated with pianist Walter Roland on many of her songs. She was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 2022, and her songs have been covered by many later artists. But how did she die, and what was the cause of her death?

Early Life and Career

Lucille Bogan was born Lucile Anderson on April 1, 1897, in either Birmingham, Alabama or Amory, Mississippi, according to different sources. She was the daughter of Gussie and Wylie Anderson, and the aunt of musician Thomas “Big Music” Anderson. She married Nazareth Lee Bogan, a railwayman, in 1914, and had a son, Nazareth Jr., in 1915 or 1916. She later divorced Bogan and married James Spencer.

She began her recording career in 1923, when she recorded vaudeville songs for Okeh Records in New York, with pianist Henry Callens. Later that year, she recorded “Pawn Shop Blues” in Atlanta, Georgia, becoming the first black blues singer to be recorded outside New York or Chicago. In 1927, she moved to Chicago and recorded for Paramount Records, where she had her first hit with “Sweet Petunia”, which was covered by Blind Blake. She also recorded for Brunswick Records, backed by Tampa Red.

By 1930, her songs became more risqué and raunchy, dealing with drinking and sex. Some of her songs were “Sloppy Drunk Blues”, “Tricks Ain’t Walkin’ No More”, “Black Angel Blues” (later known as “Sweet Little Angel”), and “Groceries on the Shelf (Piggly Wiggly)”, which was about prostitution. She wrote most of her songs herself, and used humor and innuendo to express her sexuality.

The Bessie Jackson Persona

In 1933, she moved to New York again and changed her name to Bessie Jackson, recording for the Banner label of ARC. She also changed her style, becoming more aggressive and outspoken. She continued to work with Walter Roland, who was a perfect partner for her voice and lyrics. They made more than 100 records together before she stopped recording in 1935.

One of her most notorious songs as Bessie Jackson was “B.D. Woman’s Blues”, which was about lesbianism. The term “B.D.” stood for “bull dykes”, and the song opened with the line: “Comin’ a time/women ain’t gonna need no men”. The song was a bold statement of female independence and sexuality, and shocked many listeners at the time.

The Mystery of Her Death

Lucille Bogan stopped performing in 1935, at the age of 38. She then moved to Los Angeles, where she managed her son’s jazz group, the Bogan Birmingham Busters. She died on August 10, 1948, at the age of 51.

The cause of her death is still unknown and disputed by different sources. Some say that she died of coronary sclerosis, a condition that affects the arteries of the heart. Others say that she was killed by an automobile accident. There is no official record or certificate of her death available.

She was buried at Lincoln Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angeles. Her grave is marked by a simple headstone that reads: “Lucille Bogan Spencer – April 1st – August 10th”. Her legacy lives on through her music, which has influenced many blues and jazz artists over the years.

Doms Desk

Leave a Comment