The sign at the entrance gate of New Park Cemetery, Memphis, Tennessee
The sign at the entrance gate of New Park Cemetery, Memphis, Tennessee

The New Park Cemetery is located at 4536 Horn Lake Road, Memphis, Tennessee.

For the New Park Cemetery website, click here. New Park Cemetery also has a web page of “Historical Figures” in their cemetery.

Here is a map showing the location of New Park Cemetery:

There are several musicians buried in New Park Cemetery whose graves may be of interest to Blues fans. The best known are Al Jackson, Jr. (drummer with the STAX Records house band, aka Booker T. & the M.G.’s), Booker “Bukka” White, Johnny Ace and Rufus Thomas, Jr.

Here are the Blues musicians whose New Park Cemetery graves we know about, along with a few other people who have played a role in the history of the music. To assist in finding the graves, we have included the GPS location of each grave.

Johnny Ace (John M. Alexander) grave, New Park Cemetery, Memphis, Tennessee
Johnny Ace (John M. Alexander) grave, New Park Cemetery, Memphis, Tennessee

Johnny Ace (9 June 1929 – 25 December 1954)

GPS location of the grave: N 35° 01.660′ W 90° 04.059′

His real name, John M. Alexander, Jr. appears on the headstone. His full name was John Marshall Alexander, Jr. He released some great music in 1952-54 but is unfortunately often best remembered for the way he died: shooting himself in the head while backstage in Houston, Texas on Christmas Day, 1954. It was widely reported that he was playing Russian Roulette. Witnesses, including Big Mama Thornton, said he had been playing with the gun, but not playing Russian Roulette, before he accidentally shot himself.

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Queen C. Anderson grave, New Park Cemetery, Memphis, Tennessee
Queen C. Anderson grave, New Park Cemetery, Memphis, Tennessee

Queen C. Anderson (1913 – 1959)

GPS location of the grave: N 35° 01.481′ W 90° 04.043′

Gospel singer who has been cited as a major influence by Mahalia Jackson.

She had a great voice and should be better known today than she seems to be. She was the main singer for the Rev. William Herbert Brewster and the Brewster Singers.

Mahalia Jackson’s 1947 recording of Rev. Brewster’s “I Will Move On Up A Little Higher” became the largest selling Gospel recording, selling over eight million copies.

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Carl Lee Cunningham grave, New Park Cemetery, Memphis, Tennessee
Carl Lee Cunningham grave, New Park Cemetery, Memphis, Tennessee

Carl Lee Cunningham (1948 – 10 December 1967)

GPS location of the grave: N 35° 01.666′ W 90° 04.121′

Carl Lee Cunningham was the drummer with the Bar-Kays. In 1967, the Bar-Kays were the band backing Otis Redding on a US tour. While flying to Madison, Wisconsin on 10 December, 1967 for a scheduled concert, their plane crashed into Lake Monoca while approaching the airport at Truax Field outside Madison.

Otis Redding and Bar-Kay members Carl Cunningham, Phalon Jones, Jimmy King, Jr. and Ronnie Caldwell died in the plane crash. Phalon Jones, Jimmy King, Jr. and Carl Cunningham are also buried at New Park Cemetery. So is Otis Redding’s valet, Matthew Kelly, who also died in the crash.

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Al Jackson Jr. grave, New Park Cemetery, Memphis, Tennessee
Al Jackson Jr. grave, New Park Cemetery, Memphis, Tennessee

Al Jackson, Jr. (27 November 1935 – 1 October 1975)

The GPS location of the grave is: N 35° 01.611′ W 90° 04.107′

Drummer with the STAX Records house band (aka Booker T. & the M.G.’s) along with Steve Cropper (guitar), Donald “Duck” Dunn (bass) and Booker T. Jones (keyboards).

Al Jackson, Jr was murdered at his home in Memphis on 1 October 1975. Nobody has been charged in connection with his murder.

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The grave of Phalon R. Jones Jr., New Park Cemetery, Memphis, Tennessee
The grave of Phalon R. Jones Jr., New Park Cemetery, Memphis, Tennessee

Phalon R. Jones, Jr. (1948 – 1967)

GPS location of the grave: N 35° 01.568′ W 90° 04.027′

Phalon R. Jones Jr. played saxophone with the Bar-Kays. In 1967, the Bar-Kays were the band backing Otis Redding on a US tour. While flying to Madison, Wisconsin on 10 December, 1967 for a scheduled concert, their plane crashed into Lake Monona while approaching the airport at Truax Field outside Madison. Otis Redding and Bar-Kay members Carl Cunningham, Phalon Jones, Jimmy King, Jr. and Ronnie Caldwell died in the plane crash. Jimmy King, Jr. and Carl Cunningham are also buried at New Park Cemetery. So is Otis Redding’s valet, Matthew Kelly, who also died in the crash.

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The graves of Carl Lee Cunningham (background) Jimmy King and Matthew Kelly (foreground), New Park Cemetery, Memphis, Tennessee
The graves of Carl Lee Cunningham (background) Jimmy King and Matthew Kelly (foreground), New Park Cemetery, Memphis, Tennessee

Jimmy King (8 June 1949 – 10 December 1967)

GPS location of the grave: N 35° 01.666′ W 90° 04.121′

Jimmy King, Jr. played guitar with the Bar-Kays. In 1967, the Bar-Kays were the band backing Otis Redding on a US tour. While flying to Madison, Wisconsin on 10 December, 1967 for a scheduled concert, their plane crashed into Lake Monoca while approaching the airport at Truax Field outside Madison. Otis Redding, his valet, Matthew Kelly, and Bar-Kay members Carl Cunningham, Phalon Jones, Matthew Kelly, Jimmy King, Jr. and Ronnie Caldwell died in the plane crash. Phalon Jones and Carl Cunningham are also buried at New Park Cemetery. So is Otis Redding’s valet, Matthew Kelly, who also died in the crash.

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Booker T. Little grave, New Park Cemetery, Memphis, Tennessee,
Booker T. Little grave, New Park Cemetery, Memphis, Tennessee,

Booker T. Little, Jr. (2 April 1938 – 5 October 1961)

GPS location of the grave: N 35° 01.495′ W 90° 04.064′

Jazz trumpeter. Worked with Johnny Griffin, Max Roach and Eric Dolphy. At the time of his death, aged 23, he was one of the most promising young trumpet players in jazz.

Died in New York City, aged 23, of complications from uremia.

See Booker Little’s Amazon Store.

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The grave of Rufus Thomas Jr. (1917-2001) and his wife C. Lorene Thomas (1919-2000), New Park Cemetery, Memphis, Tennessee
The grave of Rufus Thomas Jr. (1917-2001) and his wife C. Lorene Thomas (1919-2000), New Park Cemetery, Memphis, Tennessee

Rufus Thomas Jr. (26 March 1917 – 15 December 2001)

GPS location of the grave: N 35° 01.489′ W 90° 04.070′

Sun Records and STAX Records artist who promoted himself as “The World’s Oldest Teenager.” His hits include “Walkin’ The Dog” and “Do The Funky Chicken.”

See Rufus Thomas Jr.’s Amazon Store.

See Tennessee Historical Commission marker for Rufus Thomas Jr. on Beale Street in downtown Memphis.

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Booker "Bukka" White grave, New Park Cemetery, Memphis, Tennessee
Booker “Bukka” White grave, New Park Cemetery, Memphis, Tennessee

Booker “Bukka” White (1909 – 1977)

GPS location of the grave: N 35° 01.570′ W 90° 04.949′

Very influential blues guitarist and vocalist.

B.B. King’s uncle.

Recorded by John Lomax at Parchman Farm in 1939.

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Mattie Wigley (9 November 1919 – 25 August 1996)

GPS location of the grave: N 35° 01.481′ W 90° 04.037′

Madame Mattie Wigley was a Gospel singer and choir leader with the Pentacostal Temple Church of God in Christ in Memphis, Tennessee.

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Andrew (A.C) "Moohah" Williams grave, New Park cemetery, Memphis, Tennessee
Andrew (A.C) “Moohah” Williams grave, New Park cemetery, Memphis, Tennessee

Andrew (A.C.) “Moohah” Williams (7 December 1916 – 3 December 2004)

GPS location of the grave: N 35° 01.609′ W 90° 03.795′

“Moohah” Williams was the first black employee hired at Memphis radio station WDIA in 1949 when the station adopted a format of having an all African-American staff for its on air DJ’s. Williams became a programming manager and on-air personality. He also wrote Oh Pretty Woman (Can’t Make You Love Me), recorded by Albert King.

Other WDIA DJ’S included B.B. KIng, Rufus Thomas and Nat Williams. WDIA played a major role in promoting the Blues and R&B on air.

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Nat D. Williams grave, New Park cemetery, Memphis, Tennessee
Nat D. Williams grave, New Park cemetery, Memphis, Tennessee

Nathaniel “Nat” Williams (19 October 1907 – 27 October 1983)

GPS location of the grave: N 35° 01.675′ W 90° 04.188′

DJ at WDIA Radio, Master of Ceremonies at Palace Theatre (with Rufus Thomas, Jr. – see above)

See the Tennessee Historical Commission marker for Nat D. Williams on Beale Street.

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