Dick Waterman, Promoter and Photographer of the Blues, Dies at 88

Dick Waterman, a beacon in the world of blues who as a promoter, talent manager and photographer helped revive the careers of a generation of storied purveyors of that bedrock American art form while lyrically documenting their journeys with his camera, died on Jan. 26 in Oxford, Miss. He was 88.

His niece Theodora Saal said the cause was heart failure. A native of Massachusetts, he had lived in Oxford for nearly four decades.

Through his company, Avalon Productions, which was considered the first management and booking agency devoted primarily to Black blues artists, Mr. Waterman provided overdue exposure — and income — to early blues luminaries like Mississippi John Hurt, Son House and Skip James.

He also shepherded the careers of a younger blues cohort, including Buddy Guy and Otis Rush, as well as one young white artist, the singer-songwriter and future Grammy Award winner Bonnie Raitt.

Mr. Waterman in 2003 in Oxford, Miss. A native of Massachusetts, he lived in Oxford for nearly four decades.Credit…Bruce Newman

“Dick Waterman just may be the most knowledgeable man on the history of blues,” the music writer Don Wilcock wrote in 2019 on the website American Blues Scene. Mr. Waterman, he added, “sought out the originators of the genre, pulled them out of ‘retirement’ and presented them to a folk audience that to that point considered blues to be a footnote in the American musical history.”

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