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Cultural Percussionist

Blind Boy Fuller Day

Blind Boy Fuller (born Fulton Allen, July 10, 1904 or 1907 – February 13, 1941) was an American blues guitarist and singer. Fuller was one of the most popular of the recorded Piedmont blues artists with rural African Americans along with Blind Blake, Josh White, and Buddy Moss.

Allen was born in Wadesboro, North Carolina, one of ten children of Calvin Allen and Mary Jane Walker. Most sources date his birth to 1907, but the researchers Bob Eagle and Eric LeBlanc indicate 1904. After the death of his mother, he moved with his father to Rockingham, North Carolina. As a boy he learned to play the guitar and also learned from older singers the field hollers, country rags, traditional songs and blues popular in poor rural areas.

He married young, to Cora Allen, and worked as a laborer. He began to lose his eyesight when he was in his mid-teens. According to the researcher Bruce Bastin, “While he was living in Rockingham he began to have trouble with his eyes. He went to see a doctor in Charlotte who allegedly told him that he had ulcers behind his eyes, the original damage having been caused by some form of snow-blindness.” Only the first part of this diagnosis was correct. A 1937 eye examination attributed his vision loss to the long-term effects of untreated neonatal conjunctivitis.

By 1928 he was completely blind. He turned to whatever employment he could find as a singer and entertainer, often playing in the streets. By studying the records of country blues players like Blind Blake and live performances by Gary Davis, Allen became a formidable guitarist, playing on street corners and at house parties in Winston-Salem, North Carolina; Danville, Virginia; and then Durham, North Carolina. In Durham, playing around the tobacco warehouses, he developed a local following, which included the guitarists Floyd Council and Richard Trice, the harmonica player Saunders Terrell (better known as Sonny Terry), and the washboard player and guitarist George Washington.

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