When one hears the name Mississippi Marshall, a musician is likely to be the first thing that comes to mind.
However, he was not always known as Mississippi Marshall. His real name is Marshall Hopper, but he has been identified with the nickname Mississippi Marshall for more than 40 years.
“I was just raised down in Bolivar County and Sunflower County,” Marshall said. “When I went in the military, I had such a strong southern Mississippi Delta accent. Everybody called me Mississippi. They didn’t even call me Hopper or anything. It was Mississippi. Everybody kind of had a little nickname anyhow and so that just kind of stuck with me over the years.”
Marshall is 61 years old and served in the Army from 1978 to 1981. He took his training at Fort Jackson, S.C., went to AIT at Fort Belvoir, Va., was sent to South Korea and was stationed in Key West, Fla.
When Marshall went to Korea, a music program was being started over there.
“They had a bunch of South Korean bands playing American music,” Marshall said. “They got a new commander over there and he said, ‘No, I want Americans singing American music to American soldiers.’ I just happened to walk in on that, played drums in a rock and roll band.”
Marshall’s love for music developed long before his Army days.
“I started playing with my dad when I was a young kid here in the Delta,” Marshall said. “I played drums for him back then. He was a country guy. I played country music, rock and roll and blues music. He was raised over here in Duncan and so he has been playing since he was a young man.”
Marshall’s father, Ellis Hopper, played the guitar.
“That’s where my background comes from,” Marshall said. “I grew up in a family band. My Uncle Bill played bass. I played drums. My dad played guitar. My Aunt Dorothy played rhythm and sang. It was just a family band.”
Marshall started playing the guitar himself at age 6 and that is all he plays today. One of his favorite songs to play is “Country Blues Man” that he wrote about conversations with his mother, Shirley, at the end of her life. He also likes his song “Mississippi Hoo Doo Man” about a dream he had. He also wrote a song “Hard Time Blues” that is relevant today with everything people are going through during the COVID pandemic. He said approximately 80 percent of his songs are based on personal experiences.
Marshall’s only job is playing music, but at one time, he worked for the state and private prison system.
He currently lives in Tallahatchie County.
Marshall played at Ground Zero Blues Club Friday night and performs regularly throughout the Delta.
“I started playing regularly in Clarksdale with my daddy,” Marshall said. “I’ve been playing in and out of Clarksdale literally for at least 42, 43 years. There was a time I moved off and I didn’t come play for awhile, but I’ve always come back. I love Clarksdale. I really consider Clarksdale my home because there are so much roots here.
“I knew a lot of people here. I love the ambiance of the town, especially this blues movement that’s been going on for about a decade really strong.”
Marshall said he still travels to other places, but always comes back home.
“The Delta, that’s my home,” Marshall said. “And so when I’m in town, I like to try to play in Clarksdale as much as I can. They’re my friends and I see a lot of people.”
With Marshall on the guitar Friday, Joe Eagle out of Mount Bayou played the drums and his grandson Grayson Ackerland, a sophomore in high school, played the bass.