Walter E. “Furry” Lewis (March 6, 1893 or 1899 – September 14, 1981) was an American country blues guitarist and songwriter from Memphis, Tennessee. He was one of the first of the blues musicians active in the 1920s to be brought out of retirement and given new opportunities to record during the folk blues revival of the 1960s.
Lewis was born in Greenwood, Mississippi. His birth year is uncertain. Many sources give 1893, the date he gave in his later years, but the researchers Bob Eagle and Eric LeBlanc suggest 1899, based on his 1900 census entry, and other sources suggest 1895 or 1898. His family moved to Memphis when he was seven. He acquired the nickname “Furry” from childhood playmates.By 1908, he was playing solo at parties, in taverns, and on the street. He was also invited to play several dates with W. C. Handy‘s Orchestra.
In his travels as a musician, he was exposed to a wide variety of performers, including Bessie Smith, Blind Lemon Jefferson, and Alger “Texas” Alexander. Like his contemporary Frank Stokes, he grew tired of traveling and took a permanent job in 1922. His position as a street sweeper for the city of Memphis, a job he held until his retirement in 1966, allowed him to continue performing music in Memphis.