This Footage of Richard Pryor Singing the Blues Is Amazing

He began his career as a singer, and he was wonderful.

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Complex Original

Image via Complex Original

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Just how talented a dude was Richard Pryor? In addition to being a genius comic, the guy was also an extremely good singer, as this rare video of him performing the blues in NYC demonstrates.

According to Death and Taxes, shortly after moving to NYC in 1963, Pryor began performing as both a stand-up comic and as a singer, and he even opened for Bob Dylan and Nina Simone at some point. You'd never be able to tell from his calm, strong voice, but he often experienced severe performance anxiety before shows—in her 1991 autobiography, Simone described Pryor's stage fright when he'd be about to perform: "He shook like he had malaria, he was so nervous. I couldn't bear to watch him shiver, so I put my arms around him there in the dark and rocked him like a baby until he calmed down. The next night was the same, and the next, and I rocked him each time."

In this particular video, Pryor is performing a rendition of Jimmy Cox's classic blues song, "Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out," originally released in 1923. To call it flawless is almost an understatment, really—this is amazing.

Check out the clip above.

[via Death and Taxes]

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