65-year-old Jerry Weber, owner of Jerry's Records, along with his 34-year-old son, "Whistlin' Willie" stumbled upon the find of a lifetime, when in November they wound up getting their hands on a rare 78 rpm copy of a recording of mysterious Mississippi bluesman Robert Johnson's "I Believe I'll Dust My Broom" (Vocalion), believed by many to be one of the most important blues songs of the 20th century.
The 78 was in such pristine condition it was as if it had never been played before. A surprising find that was unexpected considering the rest of the records in the collection were in terrible condition. Upon further examination of the collection Willie spotted a strange record by Bogus Ben Covington, a performer he'd never heard of, among some Blind Lemon Jefferson sides they'd recently bought. Because of the twist of fate with the Robert Johnson find months earlier, Willie had been paying a lot of attention to every record that crossed his desk.
Reclusive underground cartoonist Robert Crumb, hadn't frequented Jerry's Records since 2004, but after a discussion with a friend, the Weber's decided to reach out to Crumb because he apparently would jump at the opportunity to own a rare Bogus Ben Covington record.
According to The Post Gazette...
Mr. Crumb, 69, is a fanatical collector of country blues 78s recorded before 1935. According to Mr. Zolten, who has been friends with the cartoonist since 1980, Mr. Crumb has a particular interest in rare Paramount sides. Mr. Zolten put Willie in touch with the notoriously shy artist who now resides in the south of France.
After an exchange of emails, the Webers and Mr. Crumb agreed to a trade: Upon receiving the Bogus Ben Covington 78, Mr. Crumb, who is acutely aware of the value of his art, would send a pen-and-ink drawing of "Juice Jar Jerry" and "Whistlin' Willie" to the states suitable for reproduction on T-shirts and posters. The Webers, who now own the rights to the drawing, are free to do anything they want with it.
A simple twist of fate resulted in getting a not-so-simple once in a lifetime piece of artwork from a legend. Amazing!