Bessie Smith was born in 1892 or 1894, depending on which census you believe, and became a member of the Blues, Big Band and Jazz, and Rock and Roll Halls of Fame in the 1980s. By 1912 she was performing on stage and by 1923 began a recording career. Soon she had hits with “Crazy Blues” and follow-ups, “Gulf Coast Blues” and “Downhearted Blues”.
As the Swing Era began, Bessie Smith adapted and recorded with some of the best musicians of the day, including Louis Armstrong and Benny Goodman, who appears on this recording she made for Okeh Records in 1933. She was paid $37.50 to sing on this record called “Gimme a Pigfoot (And a Bottle of Beer)”, but as was common back in the day, “pigfoot” is being used as a code for “reefer”.