Atlanta blues musician Hermon Hitson keeps the roots of Black Southern music alive
With his soulful guitar-playing and gritty singing style, he’s a rare powerhouse keeping the authentic sounds of Black Southern music vividly alive. He recounted his decision to become a musician, saying, “After I left South Georgia… my mother took me to Jacksonville, Florida. Now, that’s when I began to hear Black radio and all these guys singing… You would see them around the rib joints, the little juke joints sitting out in front, with a man with a wine bottle he’d busted and made a slide on the guitar, with a harmonica in the mouth, and so I said, ‘I got to do that,’ and that’s when I wanted to play guitar.”
He fell in love with the blues played by Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker and BB King, but also gravitated to the rock ‘n roll of James Brown. The young Hitson first visited Atlanta in 1963 when his band, Hermon and the Rockin’ Tonics, played the city as the last stop on a tour through the South. In awe of musicians like Sam Cooke and Jackie Wilson, who he knew played in Atlanta, Hitson stayed put.
In 1969, Hermon Hitson began his own record label, Sweet Rose Records, releasing “Ain’t No Other Way” and it’s B-side “You Can’t Keep a Good Man Down” as Hitson’s first self-released recordings. Since the 1960s, Hitson’s collaborators have included such legends as Jimi Hendrix, James Brown, Bobby Womack, and Wilson Pickett.
Histon’s latest record, “Let the Gods Sing,” was released in September 2022 and is available to stream at https://hermanhitson.bandcamp.com/album/let-the-gods-sing.