Arkansas bluesman Michael Burks dead at 54

Michael Burks

Courtesy photo

Legendary bluesman Michael Burks is dead at 54 years old, according to an update posted Sunday evening to his official Facebook page.

Burks was born in Milwaukee, but moved to Camden, Ark. where he and his brothers helped build their father’s 300-seat juke joint, Bradley Ferry Country Club. There, Burks began fronting bands, and backing some of the blues and jazz greats that passed through town.

After self-releasing his first CD in 1997, Burks signed with Chicago’s Alligator Records in 2001 and released three critically acclaimed albums.

He was a frequent visitor to Fayetteville, and was in town last December for a show at George’s Majestic Lounge with local legends The Cate Brothers.

Bruce Iglauer, owner of Burks’ label Alligator Records, released a statement this evening confirming the news.

From the statement

Michael ‘Iron Man’ Burks, the great blues guitarist and singer, has died suddenly. He was returning from a successful tour of Europe and collapsed in customs at the Atlanta airport. He was rushed to the hospital but they were unable to revive him. Michael was a sweet man, hugely talented and deeply soulful. I was proud to have him call me his friend.