may have had a long pause between records, but his heart, ears, and mind were always close to blues music.
never wanted to be a professional musician, and always worked day jobs, including digging wells, logging, and mechanical work.
Born in Macon, GA in 1939, Jenkins
grew up in a rural area called Swift Creek. He listened to a battery-powered radio and first heard the sounds of blues and classic R&B artists like Bill Doggett
, Bullmoose Jackson
, and others. Jenkins
built his first guitar out of a cigar box and rubber bands when he was nine, and began playing at a gas station for tips. He played it left-handed and upside down, and this practice continued after his older sister bought him a real guitar a couple of years later.
Capricorn Records founder Phil Walden
first heard Jenkins
on a local radio talent show in 1959. Walden
began to book Jenkins
' band, the Pinetoppers
, which included Otis Redding
on lead vocals. Redding
got his first big break in 1962 when he drove Jenkins
to Stax Studios in Memphis to record a follow-up to Jenkins
' regional hit, "Love Twist." The producer encouraged the young Redding
to take a turn at singing in the studio, and he recorded "These Arms of Mine" with some extra studio time. Redding
's career began to take off and Jenkins
was asked to become part of his band but he refused, ironically, because of his fear of air travel.
's untimely demise in an plane crash, Jenkins
stayed close to home, playing regionally and working day jobs to support his family. His unorthodox guitar style left lasting marks on the young, impressionable Jimi Hendrix
, who came out to see Jenkins
play while visiting relatives in the Macon area. Later, in 1969, Jenkins
teamed up to play together at The Scene, a club owned by Steve Paul in New York. In 1970, Walden
into the studio with several members of the Allman Brothers Band
to record his debut album, Ton Ton Macoute
, one of the fledgling Capricorn label's first releases. Although Ton Ton Macoute
was finally released to high critical praise in 1972, the then-small label had other priorities to deal with, including the newly successful Allman Brothers
In 1996, Capricorn founder Walden
to record a "comeback" album, Blessed Blues
. He's backed by a stellar cast of musicians, including Chuck Leavell
on keyboards and Muscle Shoals percussionist Mickey Buckins
. Capricorn also reissued Jenkins
' now-legendary Ton Ton Macoute
on compact disc in 1997.