Andy Rodgers (March 14, 1922 – August 14, 2004) was an American Delta blues harmonicist, guitarist, singer, and songwriter. A flamboyant character, known commonly as the Midnight Cowboy, Rodgers worked part-time as a musician for most of his lifetime, finally recording two albums in the 1990s.
Along his lengthy career, Rodgers variously performed with Carey Bell, Junior Wells, Billy Boy Arnold, Raful Neal, Kenny Neal, Little Walter, Phillip Walker, T-Bone Walker, Little Milton, Cab Calloway, Charles Brown, Boxcar Willie, Rose Maddox, Mickey Gilley, Willie Nelson, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Sonny Rhodes, and David "Honeyboy" Edwards. Rodgers also appeared on television programs including the Gong Show, You Bet Your Life, and Good Morning America.
Rodgers was born near to Liberty, Mississippi, United States, one of eighteen children to sharecropper parents. He left home at the age of 12 and drifted from one job to another.His cousins, Sonny Boy Williamson II and Bo Diddley, inspired him to become a musician.However, he variously found full-time employment as a boxer, truck-driver, cotton-picker and ranch hand. In the latter capacity he acquired the nickname of Midnight Cowboy from his bossman in Dorris, California, after Rodgers delivered a calf in the dead of the night. When times became particularly difficult, Rodgers resorted to stealing chickens, later recalled in the title of his album, Chicken Thief Blues.
His vagrant existence gave him a wealth of stories, which he retold both in his music and between songs at the impromptu concerts he gave. He recalled being a cotton-picker alongside Bo Diddley; wrestling a bear; placing a de-fanged rattlesnake in his father's bed; and of meeting B.B. King. Rodgers appeared on the Gong Show in 1976 and 1977, which he won on both occasions, as well on Bill Cosby's version of You Bet Your Life (1992), and Good Morning America.In 1994, Rodgers was given the Humanitarian Award by The Southern California Motion Picture Awards in Oakland, California. He also agreed to his nickname being used in Midnight Cowboy, the 1969 film starring Dustin Hoffman, and his music was used in The Big Easy (1987). By the late 1980s, Rodgers was able to concentrate on a full-time music career, and he released two albums on Snowflake Records, Freight Train Blues (1992) and Chicken Thief Blues (1995). In his time he performed with Carey Bell, Junior Wells, Billy Boy Arnold, Raful Neal, Kenny Neal, Little Walter, Phillip Walker, T-Bone Walker, Little Milton, Cab Calloway, Charles Brown, Boxcar Willie, Rose Maddox, Mickey Gilley, Willie Nelson, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Sonny Rhodes, and David "Honeyboy" Edwards. Known for his Piedmont blues style of finger-picking guitar work, Rodgers also played a Delta blues style of harmonica
He was inducted into the Cowboy Blues Hall of Fame in Nevada City, California. Rodgers also played for President Ford at The Hilton in Fresno, California.
His hay haulage business was primarily based in Fresno County, California, and later in the Butte Valley and Gridley, where he lived for more than 50 years. A fire at his mobile home forced Rodger and his longtime companion, Georgie Ann Wadell, to relocate to Fall River Mills, where they lived until Rodger's death. The fire destroyed much of Rodger's archived music, biography and genealogy research.
Later known by his fellow musicians as 'Grand Daddy of the Blues',