Eli Green is Dead


Eli Green is buried in the Greenwood Baptist Church Cemetery near Lamar in Benton County, Mississippi. 


"He once told a story about Eli Green, a local blues musician who had a profound influence on Kimbrough. Green was a firm believer in voodoo and allegedly could throw a pack of cards in the air so that they all stuck on the ceiling. Once the cards were in place, Green could call out the name of a card, and that card would fall to the ground."

Oliver states that Green was from the McIntyre community near Chulahoma in Marshall County.

From the book Goin' Back To Sweet Memphis: Conversations With The Blues

     Eli Green? Is he still alive?

     No, he's dead, I think he's dead…I think he's dead.

     With McDowell's help, Chris Strachwitz located Eli Green near Holly Springs, MS, in 1965. He was able to records two songs, "Brooks Run Into The Ocean and "Bull Dog Blues", by Green with backing from McDowell…and are "all that remains for posterity of the remarkable Eli Green who in turn had apparently learned a great deal from Charlie Patton.

     Sylvester Oliver states that Green was born in the first years of the twentieth century, making him a contemporary of both McDowell and Boose Taylor. McDowell remembered, "we did a lot of playing all around the Delta together - in Cleveland and Rosedale, towns like that" In the 1920's, McDowell sharecropped on a farm east of Hudsonville, MS. It was there that he met Eli Green...

     Junior Kimbrough, as a boy, learned guitar from McDowell and Green. The two musicians used to come on Sundays to get haircuts from Kimbrough's father. Kimbrough remembered Eli Green as "a bad guy" who "had a lil' man he kept in his pocket. He take that lil' man out and he dance around in his palm. If Eli git locked up in jail, that lil' man steal the keys for him". Kimbrough said that Green kept a magic bone that he had obtained by boiling a live cat. This bone allowed Green to walk through walls. Kimbrough also said that Green would "throw a deck of cards and they'd all stick in the ceiling. He'd name one and it would come down."

     Oliver interviewed older residents of the area who remembered Green as a "bad and dangerous man" who had special hypnotic magic powers. One informant recounted the story of Green going into a cafe and hypnotizing all the women, and apparently men also, making all of the women dance around with their dresses above their heads." Another of Oliver's informants told of how Green could change into an animal (like the Haitians' feared loupe garou), eat light bulbs, and disappear at will.

     Green was described as a gambler and a dandy dresser "in-well tailored black suits" and "white spats with his highly polished black shoes." He is rumored to have gotten drunk and lost his amulet of power.

     When Strachwitz found him in 1965, Green was living in a remote shack without electricity and a long ways from the road…


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