Unfortunately we cannot say much about him, as his life is hardly known. Supposedly born in 1885 or 1887, in New Orleans and died in Chicago in 1938, or who knows. Although thankfully, we can listening to his recordings.
He started singing in vaudeville shows (Medicine Shows), and from 1920 he moved to Chicago where he played in private parties and clubs, and of course on the street where the Chicago Blues was born, Maxwell Street . It was one of the first self-accompanied bluesman to record, specifically the third one supposedly after Ed. Andrews and Daddy Stovepipe, for the Paramount label in 1924. “Papa’s Lawdy Lawdy Blues“, the first rural blues recording, and “Airy Man Blues“. Later he recorded “Salty Dog Blues“, his most famous song, and “Salt Lake City Blues.” He also used to record duets with some of the ladies of the blues as Ida Cox, Ma Rainey, Hattie McDaniel and Lottie Kimbrough.
In 1929 he recorded for Paramount with Arthur “Blind” Blake, King of Ragtime Guitar at those years.
Papa used a curious instrument, a hybrid banjo-guitar (six strings tuned like a guitar but with a banjo body, which gave him a lighter resonance) and ukulele. He had a fairly sophisticated style for the time.
It is also famous for being one of the creators of “Hokum“, a type of song that is characterized by his comic and sexual lyrics and dancing beats. He was the Big Bill Broonzy guitar teacher, with who he would record for the Okeh label.
Nevertheless, he possibly never received the recognition he deserves.
Papa’s Lawdy Lawdy Blues (Papa Charlie Jackson, 1924)
Airy Man Blues (Papa Charlie Jackson, 1924)
Salty Dog Blues (Papa Charlie Jackson, 1926)
Salt Lake City Blues (Papa Charlie Jackson, 1926)