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Alvin "Little Pink" Anderson

Alvin "Little Pink" Anderson
Photo © 1998 by Ray Stiles
All rights reserved
I had the opportunity recently to spend a weekend with bluesman Alvin "Little Pink" Anderson. "Little Pink," son of legendary South Carolina piedmont bluesman Pink Anderson, was in town for the Martin Luther King celebration at the University of Minnesota. I caught up with "Little Pink" late Friday night and ended up spending most of the next two nights with him. If you were fortunate enough to be in the right place you would have caught him jamming with the Lamont Cranston Blues Band at Biscuits & Blues on Friday night and again at Bunker's on Saturday. He also made an impressive appearance at the Joe T. Cook jam at Famous Dave's on Sunday night and blew everyone away. Cornbread Harris was also in attendance for this fun jam.

"Little Pink," along with his sidekick Freddie Vanderford on harmonica, got up during the last set at the Lamont Cranston show and proceeded to burn the place up. Anderson said he is an Albert Collins freak and showed us what he meant with his scorching, staccato like licks on guitar. He is an excellent musician with a powerful, soulful blues voice. He can really belt out those blues lyrics. His playing combines both traditional and modern blues and he played an electrifying version of the "Sky Is Crying" that left the late night audience screaming for more.

"Little Pink's" father, Pink Anderson, was one of the architects of the Piedmont blues guitar style on the East Coast during the first half of this century. He spent many years touring in traveling medicine shows using his musical and storytelling talents to sell snake oil and other "medicines." Pink Anderson's career spanned most of 6 decades and even though he didn't record as much as some of his contemporaries he left a lasting legacy. An interesting side note was that the British rock group Pink Floyd took their name from Pink Anderson and another Piedmont guitarist by the name of Floyd Council.

"Little Pink" was born July 13, 1954 in Spartanburg, South Carolina. Being the only son of "Pink" Anderson, "Little Pink" pretty much got his own way growing up. However, he did not live an easy life. His natural mother died when he was 5 and his step mother a few years later. As a child he would follow his daddy around with his miniature guitar where he learned how to play the guitar and tell a story just like his old man. By the time he was 8 years old he had already recorded a song on one of his father's albums. By the time he was 13 (he looked at least 5 years older at the time) he went on the road with Clarence Carter. That only lasted a few weeks until they discovered how young he was. Over the next few years "Little Pink" had assimilated his father's guitar stylings and was making a name for himself on the local scene playing both electric and acoustic blues. But he also started getting into trouble with drugs and the law. At age 18 Anderson was sent to prison for the first time. In October 1974, while still in prison, Anderson's father passed away which was a severe blow to the young man. He was paroled in 1979. In 1985 he had a son who became ill and spent the next 6 years in a coma before dying. In 1994 Anderson was back in prison after being arrested for driving under suspension. It was during the next 33 months in prison that Anderson made some tough choices and began to come to terms with his life. He stopped feeling sorry for himself and stopped blaming others for his hardships. It wasn't until he was in his 40's that Anderson was finally able to come to grips with the death and loss he had experienced in his life. He also realized that he had some dreams that were left long ago when he was a teenager - dreams to follow in his fathers footsteps. Refusing parole so he wouldn't limit his options Alvin "Little Pink" Anderson walked out of prison for the last time in November 1996 a free man.

Since that time Anderson has devoted his life to playing and writing about the blues. This is a man who has lived the blues and now is taking that life experience and turning it into something positive and productive. In the short time I spent with Anderson I found him to be very honest and open in expressing his feelings. He is also totally committed to the music he grew up with and has been performing both electric and acoustic blues during these past two years. While playing at a college show in South Carolina he met up with harmonica player Freddie Vanderford and discovered they had many similar musical influences. After playing together they found out not only did they play the same songs, but they even played them in the same key. It was a little spooky until they discovered that Freddie had learned his harp playing from Peg Leg Sam (Arthur Jackson) who was a partner of "Little Pink's" dad Pink Anderson.

Alvin "Little Pink" Anderson visited his father's grave for the first time in February 1997 and was finally able to lay one of his last demons to rest. He knows he let his father down many years ago but he now realizes he has nothing else to fear and knows his father would be proud of him. "Little Pink" is a gifted guitar player, singer and song writer and is hard at work back out on the blues highway his father started traveling over 80 years ago.

To contact "Little Pink" Anderson for bookings write or call: Alvin Anderson, P.O. Box, 42871, Atlanta, GA, 30311. Phone: 404-753-2652. I hope a club will be booking him back in the Twin Cities soon.

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Copyright © 1998 by Ray M. Stiles
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, or any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the author.