Whistlin' Alex Moore (November 22, 1899 - January 20, 1989) was an American blues pianist, singer and whistler. He is best remembered for his recordings of "Across The Atlantic Ocean" and "Black Eyed Peas and Hog Jowls."
Born Alexander Herman Moore in Dallas, Texas, After his father's death, Moore dropped out of school to support his mother and two siblings. He learned the piano before entering the United States Army in 1916. His overall sound during the 1920s combined elements of the blues, ragtime, barrelhouse boogie, and stride. The same decade saw Moore acquire his nickname, based upon a whistle he made while playing the piano.
In 1929, he made his debut recordings for Columbia Records. The records he made did not sell in great quantities, and Moore did not record again until 1937, when he issued a few sides on Decca Records.
It was 1951 before Moore recorded again with RPM Records/Kent. However, throughout the 1940s and 1950s, Moore performed in clubs in Dallas and occasionally other parts of Texas. Arhoolie Records signed him to a recording contract in 1960, and those subsequent recordings saw him obtain nationwide recognition. Throughout the 1960s, Moore played at clubs and festivals in America, as well as a small number of festivals across Europe. He toured with the American Folk Blues Festival in 1969, performing on the same bill as Earl Hooker and Magic Sam. The same year he recorded a session in Stuttgart, Germany, which led to the release of Alex Moore in Europe. He did not record again in either the 1970s or 1980s, yet continued to give live performances up to his death.
He remembered and sang again the blues he had recorded in the 1920s and 1930s, such as "West Texas Woman" and "Blue Bloomer Blues", with their touching and poetic lyrics.
In 1987, Moore was granted a National Heritage Fellowship by the National Endowment for the Arts, becoming the first African American Texan to receive such an honor.
The year before his death, he recorded Wiggle Tail, his final session for Rounder Records On November 22, 1988, the state of Texas designated his birthday 'Alex Moore Day.'
Moore died of a heart attack in January 1989 in Dallas, aged 89. He never married, but was survived by a son and daughter. He was interred at the Lincoln Memorial Cemetery in Dallas.
Music journalist Tony Russell wrote that "Moore was so odd a performer that some newcomers to the blues have been uncertain whether to take him seriously. By the time he became moderately well-known on the international blues scene of the 1960s and 1970s; his always singular style had burgeoned into florid eccentricity, and he would reminisce tirelessly in a foggy half-shout about youthful high times in his hometown, over skipping blues and boogie-woogie piano patterns with occasional bursts of shrill whistling."
Text from this biography licensed under creative commons license