Legal name: Huddie William Ledbetter
Huddie William Ledbetter (January 20, 1888 – December 6, 1949) was an American folk and blues musician notable for his strong vocals, virtuosity on the twelve-string guitar, and the songbook of folk standards he introduced.
He is best known as Lead Belly. Though many releases list him as "Leadbelly", he himself wrote it as "Lead Belly". This is also the spelling on his tombstone, as well as of the Lead Belly Foundation.
Although Lead Belly usually played the twelve-string guitar, he could also play the piano, mandolin, harmonica, violin, and "windjammer" (diatonic accordion). In some of his recordings he sings while clapping his hands or stomping his foot.
The topics of Lead Belly's music covered a wide range, including gospel; blues about women, liquor, prison life, and racism; and folk songs about cowboys, prison, work, sailors, cattle herding, and dancing. He also wrote songs about people in the news, such as Franklin D. Roosevelt, Adolf Hitler, Jean Harlow, the Scottsboro Boys, and Howard Hughes.
Lead Belly was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988 and the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame in 2008.