From the back cover of the album “Mississippi Fred McDowell…I do not play no rock’n’roll” Fred introduces himself and his music with these words: ” My name is Fred McDowell. They call me Mississippi Fred McDowell. But my home’s in Rossville, Tennessee. But it don’t make any different. It sound good to me, and I seem like I’m home there when I’m in Mississippi….and I do not play no rock and roll, y’all. I just play straight ‘n’ natchel blue.”
Gerald “Wolf” Stephenson and Tommy Couch of MALACO Records were reminded of Fred when they recorded another blues singer. When they were students at Ole Miss in the 1960’s, they would call the Stuckey’s in Como, Mississippi and ask to speak to Fred who worked there as a custodian. They invited him to come to Ole Miss to play at their Sunday afternoon “teas” at their fraternity house. They thought since the sororities could have teas they should be able to do the same and they were successful.
Fred’s first experience in a recording studio was in the late 1960’s when Stephenson and Couch called the Stuckey’s and asked Fred to come to Jackson and make a record. Prior to that, Fred had only been recorded by guys who traveled around recording blues singers on their front porches and subsequently releasing their songs on 45 RPM records. Stephenson and Couch leased the album “Mississippi Fred McDowell…I do not play no rock ‘n’ roll” to Capital Records and it was nominated for a Grammy in 1969.