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Jimmie Lee Robinson, blues singerCopyright © 2002
Jimmie Lee Robertson was part of the generation of blues performers who helped establish Maxwell Street in Chicago as a famous blues locale. He was known as "Lonesome" Jimmie Lee, or sometimes nicknamed "The Lonely Traveller".
He was related to Bessie Smith on his father's side, and saw his musical roots as lying in Mississippi (his grandparents had moved north). He first played acoustic guitar, but switched to the electric blues style when he joined the harmonicist Little Walter's band.
He recorded with musicians like Magic Sam and Jimmy Reed, made records as a leader, and took part in the American Folk Blues Festival package tour of the US and Europe in 1965.
He played bass as well as guitar. He took a succession of days jobs in the 1970s and 1980s, but returned to recording in the 1990s, and made several albums for the Delmark, Amina and Apo labels.
He led a protest against the proposed redevlopment of the historic Maxwell Street area and Chicago's blues heritage in the late 1990s, including two lengthy hunger strikes. In 1998 he embarked upon the first of two long hunger strikes in protest.
He had been been diagnosed with bone cancer, and was found dead with an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound.