Mississippi bluesman Johnnie “Mr. Johnnie” Billington, who described the music of his ancestors as his calling and passion, has died. He was 77.
Officials with Delta Burial Funeral Home in Clarksdale say Billington, of Lambert, died April 1 at a Clarksdale hospital from complications of a heart attack. Services are scheduled for 11 a.m. on April 6 at the funeral home.
Billington, born in Crowder, was playing in clubs by age 13, according to the Mississippi Folklife and Folk Artist Directory. He moved to Arizona and settled in Chicago in the 1950s, eventually opening his own repair shop. He returned to Mississippi in 1977.
He and a friend launched an after school blues program, where Billington taught children to play the blues.
Survivors include six children, eight grandchildren and nieces and nephews.