Lesley RiddleMarch 06, 2012
Lesley Riddle Lesley Riddle (r) with Brownie McGhee (Guitar)Date of Birth: June 13, 1905Place of Birth: Burnsville, North CarolinaDate of Death: July 13, 1980Place of Death: Rochester, New YorkLesley Riddle worked many odd jobs: he pressed clothes, mixed cement, shined shoes, even preached the Gospel. He never became a professional musician; however, it is his contribution to country music for which he is most remembered. Riddle spent much of his childhood with his paternal grandparents near Kingsport, Tennessee. After a cement factory accident robbed him of his right leg, Riddle became greatly interested in the guitar and mandolin. He was soon a regular in the area African-American musical scene, which included Steve Tarter, Brownie McGhee and John Henry Lyons. It was Lyons who introduced Riddle to A.P. Carter in 1927. Riddle became fast friends with the Carter Family, staying with them at their home in Maces Springs, Virginia, for weeks at a time and accompanying A.P. on song collecting trips throughout East Tennessee and Southwest Virginia. Maybelle Carter credited Riddle with teaching her the "bottleneck" style of guitar picking, in which the index finger plays the melody while the thumb keeps the rhythm on the bass strings. Riddle taught the Carter Family such songs as "The Cannon Ball," "1 Know What It Means To Be Lonesome," and "Let the Church Roll On." In 1942, Riddle and his wife moved to Rochester, N.Y., and lost touch with both the Carter Family and music. He had sold his guitar in 1945. After meeting Mike Seeger in the mid-1960's, Riddle began performing once again after his wife's death in 1976. He appeared at such venues as the Smithsonian Folk Festival and the Mariposa Folk Festival, as well as the Carter Family Fold before he passed away in 1980.