Although Lead Belly most commonly played the twelve-string, he could also play the piano, mandolin, harmonica, violin, and accordion. In some recordings he just sings while clapping his hands or stomping his foot.
The topics of Lead Belly's music covered a wide range of subjects, including gospel songs, blues songs about women, liquor and racism; and the newsmakers of the day, such as Franklin D. Roosevelt, Adolf Hitler, Jean Harlow, the Scottsboro Boys, and Howard Hughes.
A certain tribute to the influence of Lead Belly that he's been covered by a huge range of artists including Johnny Cash, Mungo Jerry, Paul King, Tom Waits, Scott H. Biram, The Doors, The Beach Boys, Rory Gallagher, the Sensational Alex Harvey Band, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds and even Led Zeppelin, Meatloaf and Nirvana.
In 1976 Lead Belly joined a select group of folk singing legends who have been honoured with a biographical film about their life. The film, entitled Leadbelly, was directed by Gordon Parks who also directed the shaft movies and starred Roger E. Mosley.