BLIND BOY FULLER – ” 1907 – 1941 “

Posted: July 14, 2022 in MUSIC

Blues guitarist and vocalist Blind Boy Fuller, born Fulton Allen, on this day July 10th, (1907) in Wadesboro, North Carolina — he passed away on February 13th, 1941.

He was one of the most popular of the recorded Piedmont blues artists with rural Black Americans. Piedmont Blues seems dominated by blind men who managed to survive by playing for change on street corners. That was true of Blind Blake,  Blind Willie McTell and Gary Davis Josh White, and Buddy Moss, and none of them sold enough records to make a good living while they were in their prime. That was not true of Blind Boy Fuller, who had a strong career as a recording artist, but died at the age of only thirty-three. He learned guitar as a boy by listening to the work-songs and field-hollers he heard around him every day, and picking up ragtime tunes and popular Blues songs from older players.

By his mid-teens he was starting to lose his sight and, as he was already married and needed money, Fulton began playing full-time on the streets of Rockingham and later in the bigger towns of Winston Salem and Durham. By 1928, Fulton was totally blind, but he had gained a reputation as a versatile musician with a powerful voice and a good ear for copying the records of Blind Blake. He would play outside tobacco warehouses for tips after work and got himself invited to play for money at weekend parties. Some of these gigs would involve playing with local harp player Saunders Terrell (Sonny Terry).

Fuller’s repertoire included a number of popular double entendre “hokum” songs such as “I Want Some Of Your Pie”, “Truckin’ My Blues Away” (the origin of the phrase “keep on truckin”), and “Get Your Yas Yas Out” (adapted as “Get Your Ya-Yas Out” for the origin of a later Rolling Stones album title), and deep and soulful Blues like ‘Steel Hearted Blues’ and ‘Lost Lover Blues’.

He was usually joined on his recordings by some combination of his friends Gary Davis, Sonny Terry and ‘Red’ together with the autobiographical “Big House Bound” dedicated to his time spent in jail. Though much of his material was culled from traditional folk and blues numbers, he possessed a formidable finger-picking guitar style.  Fuller’s wide range of styles and his open and honest presentation made him one of the best selling Blues artists of the pre-War period.

Fuller went to meet his maker on February 13th 1941, dying from blood-poisoning after complications from a kidney complaint. After he died, his protege Brownie McGhee issued ‘The Death of Blind Boy Fuller’ and was briefly persuaded to appear as ‘Blind Boy Fuller II’. Fuller’s real legacy comes to us in the form of his wide stylistic range, and his influence on the players of modern Piedmont Blues.

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