Piedmont Blues seems dominated by blind men who managed to survive by playing for change on streetcorners. That was true of Blind Blake, Blind Willie McTell and Gary Davis, and none of them sold enough records to make a good living while they were in their prime. That was not true of Blind Boy Fuller, who had a strong career as a recording artist, but died at the age of thirty-three.
Fulton Allen was born in Wadeboro NC in 1907, and learned guitar as a boy by listening to the work-songs and field-hollers he heard around him every day, and picking up ragtime tunes and popular Blues songs from older players.
‘Step it Up and Go’ is a real foot-tapper!
Local record store owner and talent scout JB Long, took Allen, Davis and Washington to the New York studios of ARC in 1935, where they cut several tracks including ‘Rag Mama Rag’. The new names of ‘Blind Boy Fuller’ for Allen and ‘Bull City Red’ for Washington were conferred by JB Long as he promoted his new talent. Over the next five years ‘Fuller’ recorded 135 tracks, ranging from up-tempo rags like ‘Step It Up and Go’, to hokum classics like ‘I Want Some of Your Pie’, ‘Truckin’ My Blues Away’ and ‘Get Your Ya-Yas Out’, and deep and soulful Blues like ‘Steel Hearted Blues’ and ‘Lost Lover Blues’. He was usually joined on his recordings by some combination of his friends Gary Davis, Sonny Terry and ‘Red’.
Have you ever wondered where ‘Keep On Trucking’ came from?
Fuller plays a ‘Hokum’ classic;
Fuller went to meet his maker on February 13th 1941, dying from blood-poisoning after complications from a kidney complaint. After he died, his protege Brownie McGhee issued ‘The Death of Blind Boy Fuller’ and was briefly persuaded to appear as ‘Blind Boy Fuller II’. Fuller’s real legacy comes to us in the form of his wide stylistic range, and his influence on the players of modern Piedmont Blues.