Lead Belly Caricature


Lead Belly Caricature, circa 1942.

Huddie William Ledbetter was an American folk and blues musician notable for his strong vocals, virtuosity on the twelve-string guitar, and the folk standards he introduced, like “Midnight Special” and “Goodnight, Irene”.

Though many releases credit him as “Leadbelly”, he himself wrote it as “Lead Belly”, which is also the spelling on his tombstone.

Lead Belly usually played a twelve-string guitar, but he also played the piano, mandolin, harmonica, violin, and accordion.
In some of his recordings he sang while clapping his hands or stomping his foot.

Lead Belly's songs covered a wide range, including gospel music; blues about women, liquor, prison life, and racism; and folk songs about cowboys, prison, work, sailors, cattle herding, and dancing.

In January 1918 he was imprisoned at the Imperial Farm (now Central Unit) in Sugar Land, Texas, after killing one of his relatives, Will Stafford, in a fight over a woman.
He was pardoned in 1925, but had subsequent incarcerations and prison time until he was finally released during the Great Depression.

Out of prison, he began to sing and perform in bars around New York City. He also appeared in nightclubs with Josh White, becoming a fixture in New York City's surging folk music scene and befriending the likes of Sonny Terry, Brownie McGhee, Woody Guthrie, and a young Pete Seeger.

Lead Belly styled himself “King of the Twelve-String Guitar,” wielding his unusually large Stella twelve-string.
This guitar had a slightly longer scale length than a standard guitar, slotted tuners, ladder bracing, and a trapeze-style tailpiece to resist bridge lifting.

Lead Belly played with finger picks much of the time, using a thumb pick to provide a walking bass line and occasionally to strum.
This technique, combined with low tunings and heavy strings, gives many of his recordings a piano-like sound.
His playing style was popularized by Pete Seeger, who adopted the twelve-string guitar in the 1950s.

Lead Belly died of Lou Gehrig's Disease on December 6, 1949 (aged 61).

He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988.

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All prints are produced using Giclee printing process which is used for archival art reproduction. This process uses fade-resistant archival pigment-based ink which lasts over 100 years. All prints are printed on 310GSM, Luxurious mould-made, 100% cotton rag Archival Certified watercolor paper.

Archival Conservation Mat is included with your purchase. Mat is a high quality, 4 ply (1/16″) surround mat. These frame mats are acid-free & Lignin-free made with 100% virgin alpha-cellulose surface, core and backing papers. So your caricature with mat will fit into a standard comparable frame either “20” x 24″ or “16” x 20″ depending on the print size, (frame not included). Price also includes a Backer Board.

32″ x 40″ stretch canvas print is produced by Giclee printing process and are hand stretched over heavy duty American made white pine. The canvas print is varnished twice after printing. The canvas prints are ready to hang (complete with hanging wire).

Additional information

Weight 1 lbs
Dimensions 28 × 24 × 2 in
Print Size

32" x 40" Stretched Canvas Print $495, 20" x 24" Stretched Canvas Print $330, 11" x 14" Watercolor Print $95, 16" x 20" Watercolor Print $185