Riverside Hotel is a hotel in Clarksdale, Mississippi in operation since 1944. It was the fourth marker place on the Mississippi Blues Trail. Famed for providing lodging for such blues artists as Sonny Boy Williamson II, Ike Turner, and Robert Nighthawk. It was previously the G.T. Thomas Hospital in which Bessie Smith died in 1937. Ike Turner lived there and wrote and rehearsed his song "Rocket 88" here. Robert Nighthawk left his suitcase in his room there just before he died.
The Hotel is located at 615 Sunflower Avenue, in Clarksdale, Mississippi. Its former usage was as the G. T. Thomas Afro-American Hospital, Clarksdale's hospital for black patients. On the 26th September 1937, the singer Bessie Smith was taken there for treatment after being involved in a car accident outside Clarksdale, which proved fatal.
The original structure had eight rooms. In 1943, Mrs. Z.L. Ratliff rented the property from G.T. Thomas to use it as a hotel. Ratliff drew up plans which extended the building to include 21 guest rooms over two floors. Thomas assisted her in this conversion. It was opened as a hotel in 1944. Ratliff purchased the building outright from Thomas's widow in 1957. It has remained in the hands of the Ratliff family and has been run by Frank "Rat" Ratliff for many years. Frank "Rat" Ratliff passed on March 28, 2013. The hotel is currently run by his daughter, Zelena Ratliff
As one of the only hotels in the state that allowed African-Americans, the Riverside played host to a great number of touring musicians, including Sonny Boy Williamson II and Duke Ellington.
At some point in the mid-1940s, Ike Turner moved into the Riverside Hotel, His bedroom is said to have been in what is now room #7.
The Riverside Hotel is one of many historical blues sites in Clarksdale. It is still operated by the original family owners as a hotel.
- Delta Blues Museum
- Mississippi Blues Trail
- John Clark House
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- Riverside Hotel website
- Riverside Hotel website maintained by St Louis Frank
- Clarksdale Blues - famous blues sites in Clarksdale
- Riverside Hotel on Google Maps