There were many songs written in tribute to the The Rhythm Club Fire. The songs ranged from Jazz groups such as Lewis Bronzeville Five out of Chicago to blues masters like Howlin’ Wolf or John Lee Hooker. Many of the songs used partial facts mixed with story telling to bring the listener in to the event. As with a lot of folk music, much of the facts were a little off from what really happened. Case in point was John Lee Hookers song “Natchez Fire”. In the song Hooker sets the date of the fire as 1937 when in fact is was 1940. Howlin Wolf also embellished the facts of the fire in his song “The Natchez Burning,” recorded in 1956. One of the lines in his song states that “the whole building came tumbling to the ground” The fact is that the building was mostly in tact after the fire and could be seen in the documentary Black Natchez by Ed Pincus which was filmed in 1965. The brief, passing shot of the building showed it as a plumbing supply store. Unfortunately many of these bits of information became folk lore and perpetuated much of the misinformation about the fire.

Still these songs serve as a lasting, loving tribute to the victims of the fire. Like the campfire stories of old, these songs are the artists way of sharing history with generations to come.

 

1. Lewis Bronzeville Five – Mississippi Fire Blues/Natchez Mississippi Blues

2. John Lee Hooker – Natchez Fire (Burning)

3. Howlin’ Wolf – Natchez Burning

4. Leonard “Baby Doo” Caston – The Death of Walter Barnes

5. Gene Gilmore – The Natchez Fire