Tampa Red

Tampa Red, whose real name was Hudson Whittaker, rose to fame as the “Guitar Wizard” in the late 1920s. During his prime, he was known as "The Guitar Wizard" because of his technique on electric and steel guitar. His skill at guitar and composing blues and novelty songs resulted in over thirty years of recording. In fact, Tampa Red made more 78 rpm records than any other blues artist, including Bessie Smith, Ma Rainey, and Robert Johnson.  His career in music was centered in Chicago and extended into the 1960s.

Hudson Whittaker got his nickname from the fact that he had red hair and that he lived with his grandmother in Tampa, after the death of his parents, John and Elizabeth Woodbridge.  At this point, he also took his grandmother’s name of Whittaker.  This talented youngster taught himself how to play on his brother’s guitar.  Although the young African American musician only lived in Florida for a few years, his professional name, Tampa Red, would always point to his beginnings in Florida.

Point of Interest

Tampa Red was raised by his aunt and grandmother in the Tampa area. While he spent most of his career outside of Florida, he adopted Tampa as his namesake as a stage and recording artist during his years in Chicago.