The essential Piedmont Bluesman Blind Boy Fuller died on Feb 13th in
1941 in Durham, SC at age 33. Fuller was one of the most recorded, and
most popular, Blues players in the 30s. His extensive discography and
popularity at the time belied the fact that Fuller most often played street
corners and house parties. He recorded 135 songs for The American Record
Company between 1935 and 1940.
The dates for Fuller`s birth (born Fulton Allen) have varied from 1903 to 1910, but
the general consesus is now that he was born in July of 1907. He grew up in
a sharecropping family with 15 siblings. He learned guitar in his teens, and
as he gradually lost his eyesight to ulcers, he played more and more. There
is a story about Fuller losing his eyesight when a jealous woman threw
viotrol in his face, but that story is not accepted by Blues historians. He
gradually lost his eyesight and didn`t really concentrate on music as a
profession untill he could no longer work. One of Fuller`s early teachers
was the Rev. Blind Gary Davis. Davis didn`t record nearly as much as Fuller
during the period just preceding WW 2, despite the fact that Davis was the
better guitarist. Fuller had a certain rhythnic approach to guitar that made
him very popular in jukeboxes. he often played accompanied by others such as
Sonny Terry on harmonica, Brownie McGhee on guitar, and Bull City Red on
washboard.In fact, when Fuller died, Brownie McGhee was billed as "Blind Boy
Fuller 2" for a time.
Fuller was a versatile guitarist, combining Ragtime, traditional Piedmont
botteneck into his repitoire. Many acoustic Blues players today emulate
Fuller and cover his songs. Some of his well-known songs include "Rag Mama
Rag", "Truckin` My Blues Away" and "Step it Up and Go". His complete
recordings are on 6 volumes on the Document label. Other reccomended CDs
include , but are not limited to: "Truckin` My Blues Away" on Yazoo, and
Blind Boy Fuller with Sonny Terry and Bull City Red" on Blues Classics.
Blind Boy Fuller has long been a favorite of acoustic Blues fans, and he has
recently been finally recognized in his adopted hometown of Durham, NC.
After years in an unmarked grave, his gravesite now has a monument on it.
There is also an historical marker in his name.