Blind Boy Fuller Biography

Fulton Allen, 1908, Wadesboro, North Carolina, USA, d. 13 February 1941, USA. One of a large family, Fuller learned to play the guitar as a child and had begun a life as a transient singer when he was blinded, either through disease or when lye water was thrown in his face. By the late 20s he was well known throughout North Carolina and Virginia, playing and singing at county fairs, tobacco farms and on street corners. At one time he worked with two other blind singers, Sonny Terry and Gary Davis. Among his most popular numbers were ‘Rattlesnakin’ Daddy’, ‘Jitterbug Rag’ (on which he demonstrated his guitar technique) and the bawdy ‘What’s That Smells Like Fish?’ (later adapted by Hot Tuna as ‘Keep On Truckin’’) and ‘Get Your Yas Yas Out’. At one point in his career he was teamed with Brownie McGhee. In 1940 in Chicago, Fuller’s style had become gloomy, as can be heard on ‘When You Are Gone’. Hospitalized for a kidney operation, Fuller contracted blood poisoning and died on 13 February 1941.

One of the foremost exponents of the Piedmont blues style, there was a strong folk element in Fuller’s work. The manner in which he absorbed and recreated stylistic patterns of other blues forms made him an important link between the earlier classic country blues and the later urbanized forms. Among the singers he influenced were Buddy Moss, Floyd Council, Ralph Willis and Richard Trice. (Shortly after Fuller’s death Brownie McGhee was recorded under the name Blind Boy Fuller No. 2.)

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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