Another one of those hidden figures of the blues who made a few records at one session and promptly disappeared into obscurity, few details are concretely known about the life of Texas-Louisiana musician “Stick-Horse” Hammond, who made a small handful of records in 1950 demonstrating a gritty and rather archaic style of rural blues. As such, the facts presented within this article should to taken as tentative, at best.
One of at least five children of B.B. and Laura (spelling uncertain) Hammond, “Stick-Horse” was born Nathaniel Hammond in Palestine, Texas, on April 16, 1896, (according topublic records), though a date in the preceding month has also been proffered, as well. According to a draft card presumably attributable to the same Hammond, he was of medium height with a heavy build as an adult. Per the same source, he worked on the Union Pacific Railroad around the time of the First World War, and was at the time living in Denver, Colorado. Perhaps resulting from that profession, he purportedly lost a leg (much like his white contemporary “Peg” Moreland), and ostensibly adopted the nickname ‘Stick-Horse” from the peg-leg he relied upon thereafter. Later in life, he reportedly turned to life as a traveling musician, playing around his home state before settling in Taylortown, Louisiana, in the vicinity of Shreveport, where he began farming on the share. Around 1950, Hammond was “discovered” by country singing star Zeke Clements—who was then appearing on the KWKH Louisiana Hayride—and brought to town to cut a record for former disc jockey Ray Bartlett. Clements later recalled that “they drove around for two or three days getting him drunk enough to record.” In all, Hammond produced six sides for Bartlett’s “Job” label, four of which were picked up by larger record companies (Royalty Records of Paris, Texas, and Gotham Records of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, respectively). Sometime later, the plantation on which Hammond farmed was visited by record executives Stan Lewis and Leonard Chess in hopes of signing the bluesman to the fledgling Chess Records. Unfortunately for the songster, the big boss ran off the city slickers with a shotgun, swiftly snuffing out any hopes for the continuation of Hammond’s brief career as a record artist. Remaining in Taylortown for the rest of his life, “Stick-Horse” Hammond died in Shreveport on May 27, 1964.
Royalty RR-906 was recorded at the J&M Record Shop presumably at 728 Texas Street in Shreveport, Louisiana, sometime in the year of 1950. It was originally released on Job 105. “Stick-Horse” Hammond sings the blues and accompanies himself on electric guitar.
On the “A” side, “Stick-Horse” sings a low-down country blues rendition of fellow Texan Curtis Jones’s “Highway 51”. Having been born in 1896, Hammond was among the same generation of blues musicians as Blind Lemon Jefferson and Mance Lipscomb, though each artist’s recording career occupied a different era.
On the reverse, Hammond sings “Too Late Baby”, taking after the Black Ace’s (and others’) “You Gonna Need My Help Someday”, and continuing in the popular mold of “How Long—How Long” and “Sitting On Top of the World” influenced melodies.