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Jones, George [Little Hat] (1899–1981)

Jenny Odintz Biography Entry

Blues musician George "Little Hat" Jones was born on a farm near the Sulphur River in Bowie County, Texas, on October 5, 1899, the only child of Felix Jones and his wife. The family farm was purchased by Jones's grandfather, a former slave.

Jones was a talented, though little-known, blues musician. He quit school at the age of thirteen, after his father became ill and several crops were destroyed, in order to help out on the farm. During this period his mother bought him his first guitar. Between 1916 and 1929 he probably worked as a menial laborer. He acquired his nickname at a construction job in Garland. Because Jones came to work with a hat from which half the brim had been cut off, his boss called him "Little Hat" Jones and even made out his paychecks this way.

In 1929 Jones was in San Antonio. He first recorded, for OKeh Records, on June 15 of that year, when he cut two records of his own, "New Two Sixteen Blues" and "Two String Blues," and played backup for Texas Alexander. Jones then made a contract with OKeh for three years and recorded "Rolled from Side to Side Blues," "Hurry Blues," "Little Hat Blues," "Corpus Blues," "Kentucky Blues," "Bye Bye Baby Blues," "Cross the Water Blues," and "Cherry Street Blues." He also played in such cities as New Orleans, Galveston, and Austin, and occasionally ventured into Mexico. He was influenced in his guitar playing by Blind Lemon Jefferson and played with T. Texas Tyler and Jimmie Rodgers.

In 1937 Jones settled in Naples, Texas, with his second wife, Janie Traylor, and worked at odd jobs. In the years before his death he was employed at the Red River Army Depot. He died on March 7, 1981, and is buried in the Morning Star cemetery in Naples.


Colin Larkin, ed., Encyclopedia of Popular Music (London: Guinness, 1992; 3d ed., New York: Muze, 1998). "George 'Little Hat' Jones," Notables website (http://www.angelfire.com/tx3/nostalgia/Notables.html), accessed January 15, 2009.

Categories:

  • Music
  • Genres (Blues)
  • Peoples
  • African Americans

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Jenny Odintz, “Jones, George [Little Hat],” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed July 31, 2021, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/jones-george-little-hat.

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November 20, 2006
September 7, 2015

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