Author: Jas Obrecht
“Decades ago, a fellow blues enthusiast sent me a package of official papers related to the life of Fulton Allen, who recorded as Blind Boy Fuller. Written during the 1930s by government officials, social workers, and physicians, these documents offer unique insight into the life of a legendary Southern bluesman. The stories they tell of poverty, ill health, and unhappiness with management and record companies are as blues-inducing as Blind Boy Fuller’s darkest recordings. To ensure their accuracy, all of the quotations in my account retain the parlance and punctuation of the original documents.
First, a few words about Fulton Allen. This extraordinarily prolific blues artist produced 130 Blind Boy Fuller records between 1935 and 1940, with songs coming out on the Vocalion, Conqueror, Perfect, Melotone, Columbia, OKeh, and Decca labels. Drawing on country blues, pop, and especially ragtime, Allen played fingerstyle and slide on a metal-bodied National Duolian guitar, sometimes using a capo. He sang with a strong, confident voice. His music came to epitomize the so-called Piedmont style, and his duets with harmonica ace Sonny Terry set the template for the later partnerships of Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee, Bowling Green John Cephas and Harmonica Phil Wiggins, and others.”
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