Anderson’s eclectic repertoire and engaging personality brought him national attention during the folk music revival of the early 1960s.
Musician. Anderson was born in Laurens on February 12, 1900. Encompassing blues, rags, gospel, ballads, and minstrel tunes, Pinkney Anderson’s music exemplified the southern “songster” tradition. His blues typified the laid-back style popular in the Greenville-Spartanburg area from before World War I. Anderson’s eclectic repertoire and engaging personality brought him national attention during the folk music revival of the early 1960s. After moving to Spartanburg as a child, Anderson took up the guitar and played on the streets for change. As a teenager he teamed up with an older, blind musician, Simmie Dooley, from whom he likely learned many of the songs that became staples of his repertoire. Anderson and Dooley recorded together in 1928, cutting four sides for Columbia Records. Anderson would not record again until 1950, but he continued to make his living from music, traveling extensively with medicine shows such as Dr. W. R. Kerr’s Indian Remedy Company. Illness sidelined Anderson during the mid 1950s, but his career was rejuvenated after young folk music aficionados sought him out in the early 1960s. He recorded albums for the Prestige/Bluesville label, performed at folk festivals, and appeared in a 1963 documentary, The Blues. In the film and on stage he was sometimes joined by his young son, Alvin “Little Pink” Anderson (b. Spartanburg, July 13, 1954), who would go on to perform music in his father’s style as an adult. Pink Anderson died in Spartanburg on October 12, 1974.
Bastin, Bruce. Crying for the Carolines. London: Studio Vista, 1971.
Smith, Michael B. Carolina Dreams: The Musical Legacy of Upstate South Carolina. Beverly Hills, Calif.: Marshall Tucker Entertainment, 1997.