Blind Willie McTell
Blind Willie McTell was one of America’s most influential blues musicians. Musicians Allman Brother’s, Taj Mahal, Kurt Cobain and Bob Dylan have paid him homage.
The singer and guitarist recorded over 120 songs on different labels under different names to avoid contractual problems. One time, he called himself Pig ‘n’ Whistle Red after a barbecue restaurant in Atlanta where he played for tips.
And its McTell’s classics like “Statesboro Blues,” and “Mama ‘Tain’t Long ‘for’ Day,” that had a lasting impact.
McTell was born blind in one eye and soon lost his remaining vision. But he didn’t let his blindness keep him from traveling near and far to play. By the mid 1920s, McTell was an accomplished musician and he wasn’t even 30.
He made his last blues recording in 1956 for an Atlanta record-store owner. Two years before he died in 1959, McTell played religious music and pastored a local Baptist church.
In 1981, McTell was inducted into the Blues Foundation’s Blues Hall of Fame. And each year, McTell is remembered in his hometown of Thomson, Georgia where a blues festival bears his name. Some of his songs and interviews also be heard in the Library of Congress.