Bumble Bee Slim
Cephas & Wiggins
Davis, Rev. Gary
Fuller, Blind Boy
Holeman, John Dee
Howell, Peg Leg
McTell, Blind Willie
Fuller, c. mid-1930s, from the collection of
Full name: Fulton Allen
Recorded under: Blind Boy Fuller
Born: July 10, 1907, in Wadesboro, NC (Anson Co.)
Died: Feb. 13, 1941, in Durham, NC
Instrument: Guitar (and vocals)
Most reports indicate that Blind Boy Fuller was born Fulton Allen sometime between 1903 and 1908 to Calvin Allen and Mary Jane
Walker of Wadesboro, NC. Blues scholar Bruce Bastin
pinpoints the date to July 10, 1907. He was one of 10
children. The family moved from Wadesboro to Rockingham,
NC, while Fulton was still a boy. It was there that he picked up
most of his guitar skills. During the mid-1920s, he further developed his skills by playing on street corners and at house parties. It is reported that in 1926 he suffered from ulcerated eyes and became partially blind; by 1928 he was completely blind. There is another story that explains his blindness, though. Supposedly, a jealous woman, perhaps a girlfriend or ex-girlfriend, blinded him with a
mixture of household chemicals. From around 1928 until the early 1930s, Fuller played anywhere he could, from tobacco warehouses to fish fries. He teamed up with Sonny Terry, a harmonica player, and sometimes Bull City Red and Gary Davis. He spent a lot of time recording with ARC label group from 1935 through 1938. He also recorded with numerous other record labels up until 1940. Fuller’s life began winding down at this time, as he underwent a kidney operation in 1940. It is unsure how he died, but two possible causes are blood poisoning due to the effects of his kidney operation and/or pneumonia. He died at his home in Durham, NC, and was buried in Grove Hill Cemetery. Fuller is remembered for his “countryman compositions.”
Many of his songs centered on the daily worries and woes of black tenant farmers and their encounters with big East Coast cities such as New York.
Bastin, Bruce. Crying for the Carolines. London: Studio Vista, 1971.
Bastin, Bruce. Red River Blues: The Blues Tradition of the
Southeast. University of Illinois Press, 1986.
Charters, Samuel Barclay. The Country Blues. Da Capo Press, 1975.
Harris, Sheldon. Blues Who's Who: A Biographical Dictionary
of Blues Singers. New Rochelle, NY: Arlington House, 1979.
Herzhaft, Gerard. Encyclopedia of the
Blues. Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 1992.
Wyman, Bill. Blues Odyssey: A Journey to the Music’s Heart
and Soul. New York: DK Publishing, Inc, 2001.
Whirty, Ryan. "Blues Legend Inspires
Quest." News & Observer (Raleigh, NC), January 22, 2006,
American national biography. New York: Oxford
University Press, 1999.
DelGrosso, Rich. "Take it on home: Fuller's Blues - Part
I." Blues Revue 52 (November 1999): 70-71.
DelGrosso, Rich. Take It on Home: Fuller's
Blues - Part II. Blues Revue 53 (December 1999): 78-79.
Mills, Fetzer, Jr. "Richard Trice: You Can't Smoke a Cigarette at
Both Ends." Living Blues 141 (September-October 1998): 44-47.
Recordings on CD
Blind Boy Fuller. East Coast Piedmont Style. Columbia/Legacy
Blind Boy Fuller. Get Your Yas Yas Out: The Essential.
Blind Boy Fuller. Truckin' My Blues Away. Yazoo 1060.
Blind Boy Fuller. The Essential. Classic Blues.
All Music. Accessed 5 Nov. 2003 <www.allmusic.com>
In Memory of Blind Boy Fuller. Accessed 5 Nov. 2003 <www.rootsweb.com/~ncanson/blindboy.htm>