Owner of Alabama backyard juke joint Gip's Place dies

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BESSEMER, Ala. (AP) -- Diane Guyton remembers a phrase her longtime boss and friend Henry "Gip" Gipson used to always say.

"No blacks, no whites, just the blues," Guyton recalled.

To Guyton, those words were the foundation philosophy the grave digger-turned-blues disciple carried with him his entire life.

"If you got to ever meet him, you loved him," Guyton said.

Gipson, the longtime owner of Gip's Place, a blues club and juke joint he ran out of his own backyard in Bessemer, died Tuesday after being in hospice care the last few months. He was 99.

"Henry 'Gip' Gipson was the embodiment of blues - cool, smooth, passionate and dripping with soul," Birmingham mayor Randall Woodfin said on Facebook Tuesday. "Gip's Place, his legendary juke joint, still stands a monument to Southern blues. Let's keep his memory alive."