Archive for the ‘Sonny Terry’ Category

Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee at The Other End, NYC 1970s
Photographer: Allan Tannenbaum

Author: Alan Balfour
Kindly put at disposal by the author.

“The fifty-seven year history of recorded blues has witnessed many great partnerships; Leroy Carr and Scrapper Blackwell, Sleepy John Estes and Hammie Nixon, Georgia Tom and Tampa Red, Big Bill Broonzy and Jazz Gillum: men who were so intuitively aware of one another’s musical needs that they were not only the perfect team, but also created a complete fusion of feeling in their music. More contemporary examples have been Muddy Waters and Little Walter or BuddyGuy and Junior Wells but, famous as all these were, none have been more enduringly consistent, or given as much pleasure to so many, as have Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee during their forty year partnership.

The elder of the two, Sonny Terry, was born in Greenboro, Georgia on October 24, 1911, and was christened Saunders Terrell. When he was six his family moved to Rockingham, North Carolina where, at the age of eleven, he lost an eye during a children’s game. Five years later he was blinded in the other eye when a lump of iron was hurled at his face. This total blindness, coming as it did at a very impressionable age, caused him to become withdrawn, taking solace in “mocking” train and animal sounds on the cheap harmonica which he had learned to play as a child.”



(photographed by Val Wilmer at The Marquee Club)

Author: Tony Standish
Source: Jazz Journal, June 1958, p-1-5


“Before anything else is written I would like to thank Chris Barber, and I assume it was his idea, for allowing me to hear Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee in person. I am sure that I speak for just about everyone.
It is really quite fantastic, and one doesn’t have to think back far to when the very idea would have been quite incomprehensible, that jazz enthusiasts in Britain are able to hear these minor giants of jazz (minor is not my word; it is one forced upon me by others who, unknowingly, are in charge of the labels). It is also a flattering indication of the European’s appreciation of jazz that Sonny and Brownie, two uncompromising, honest-to-goodness blues-singers, are able to undertake a nationwide tour and be assured of packed, enthusiastic and generally well-informed houses. This sort of reception must be both unexpected and gratifying to men such as these, whose contributions to their own country’s culture is largely overlooked at home.”