The grave of blues singer Blind Willie McTell, McDuffie County (GA) 2008
William Samuel McTier, better known as Blind Willie McTell (May 5, 1901 – August 19, 1959), was an influential American blues singer, songwriter, and guitarist. He played 6-string and 12-string guitar and recorded from 1927 to 1955. He wrote the song "Statesboro Blues" which was made popular by the Allman Brothers in 1969.
Born in Thomson, Georgia, blind in one eye, McTell had lost his remaining vision by late childhood. His father left the family when McTell was still young, and when his mother died in the 1920s, he left his hometown to pursue a music career. He started out recording for Victor Records in Atlanta but later recorded for a number of labels under different names. His style was a sort of country blues, combining the raw blues of the Mississippi Delta with the more refined East Coast sound.
In 1934, he married Ruth Kate Williams but most of their marriage from 1942 until his death was spent apart, with her living in Fort Gordon near Augusta, and him working around Atlanta.
Post-WWII, he recorded for Atlantic Records and for Regal Records, but these recordings were less successful commercially. He continued to perform live in Atlanta, but his career was cut short by bad health, predominantly diabetes. McTell died in Milledgeville, Georgia of a stroke in 1959 and lies buried near Thomson in the small roadside cemetery of an equally small baptist church.
A blues festival in McTell's honor is held annually in his birthplace, Thomson, Georgia.
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