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 Fulton “Blind Boy Fuller” Allen

Fulton “Blind Boy Fuller” Allen

Birth
Wadesboro, Anson County, North Carolina, USA
Death 13 Feb 1941 (aged 33)
Durham, Durham County, North Carolina, USA
Burial Durham, Durham County, North Carolina, USA
Plot Location of the Grave Within the Cemetery is Unknown
Memorial ID 6815208 · View Source
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Blues Musician. The most popular guitar bluesman of the late 1930s. His engagingly gruff vocals and relaxed yet intricate fingerpicking epitomized "Piedmont Blues", a ragtime-based style that had its home in the Southeastern United States. He was elected to the Blues Hall of Fame in 2004. Fulton Allen was born in Wadesboro, North Carolina. From childhood he sang and played guitar at parties, but when he left school in his early teens it was to become a laborer. Around that time he began losing his eyesight, the long-term consequences of untreated neonatal conjunctivitis; he was completely blind by age 21. In 1929 he married Cora Mae Martin and settled in Durham. With no other means of support he became a busker in earnest, developing his technique through informal lessons with Gary Davis and by listening to Blind Blake records. Determined to be heard, he acquired a steel National resonator guitar, which had a much bigger sound than the standard wooden acoustic ones. By 1933 the city of Durham had given him special permission to play for money in front of the tobacco warehouses that were its busiest industry. It was there in 1935 that he was discovered by J.B. Long, a local five-and-dime store manager who also acted as a talent scout for the American Record Corporation. Long made himself Fulton's manager, gave him the pseudonym "Blind Boy Fuller" and got him a deal with ARC. For the next five years he periodically drove Fulton to New York City, Memphis, Tennessee, and Columbia, South Carolina for recording sessions. Most were for ARC but he also cut sides for the Columbia, Decca, Vocalion, and OKeh labels; his sidemen included guitarist Floyd Council, harmonica player Sonny Terry and washboard virtuoso Bull City Red. Blind Boy Fuller records were strong sellers. He was a superb dance musician, versatile and with a light touch, though when the spirit moved him in songs such as "Lost Lover Blues" and "Mamie" he could plumb depths of the soul as well as any great Delta bluesman. Other standards among his 130 tracks are "Step It Up and Go", "Truckin' My Blues Away", "Get Your Yas Yas Out", "Piccolo Rag", "I'm a Rattlesnakin' Daddy", "Rag Mama Rag", "Bye Bye Baby", "What's That Smells Like Fish", and "Big House Bound". During his rise to prominence in the "race record" market Fulton continued to busk in Durham, where he was known for his sharp clothes, hot temper, and habit of carrying a gun to scare off hecklers. In 1938 he ended up in the county jail for, improbably enough, attempting to shoot his wife (he missed). Alcoholism worsened his already poor health; he underwent surgery for a bleeding ulcer in 1937 and an infected bladder in 1940, all the while suffering from chronic kidney disease. He was bedridden for much of his last year, finally dying of sepsis at 33. His unmarked gravesite at Durham's long-inactive Grove Hill Cemetery may no longer exist, as nearly half the property was sold for city development in the early 1960s. In 2001, a Blind Boy Fuller commemorative plaque was dedicated on the American Tobacco Trail adjacent to the cemetery grounds. "Truckin' My Blues Away" inspired R. Crumb's famous "Keep On Truckin'" cartoon, which became a popular counterculture symbol of the late 1960s. The Rolling Stones named their 1970 live album "Get Your Ya-Yas Out!" after another Blind Boy Fuller song.

Bio by: Bobb Edwards


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Originally Created by: Midnight Believer
  • Added: 1 Oct 2002
  • Find A Grave Memorial 6815208
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Fulton “Blind Boy Fuller” Allen (10 Jul 1907–13 Feb 1941), Find A Grave Memorial no. 6815208, citing Grove Hill Cemetery, Durham, Durham County, North Carolina, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .