Blind Boy Fuller

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Blind Boy FullerBorn Fulton Allen on July 10, 1907 in Wadesboro, NC, Blind Boy Fuller did not become seriously interested in playing blues until after he became blind in 1928. When he was 25, he married Cora Mae Martin, only 14 at the time, and two years later began going blind, a result of ulcers behind his eyes. In 1929, he and Cora Mae moved to Durham, and there he met Gary Davis and James Baxter Long, the man who eventually became his manager.

Besides managing a United Dollar Store in Kinston, Long also hunted for talent for the American Record Company. After Long moved his store to the tobacco center of Durham, he heard Fuller sing one day as he was marketing his new store location to local businessmen, and soon Long, Fuller and Davis were boarding a plane to American Record Company in New York to record songs. Although Fuller admired Davis as a musical mentor, it was not long before they both began arguing over style.

Unlike most musicians, Fuller was not born to a musical family; he did not begin showing interest in playing until after he became blind. However, his talent impressed Long and other record companies, and before long another record company, Decca, swayed him into recording with them. While he was recording for Long, he partnered with George Washington, otherwise known as Bull City Red, and harmonica player Sonny Terry. Between this year and 1941, Fuller found himself at a legacy of the Piedmont Blues movement, proven by the overwhelming popularity of his performances.

In 1938 Fuller's fortune turned, and one tune that he wrote a tune that alluded to a shooting accident that cost him a short time in jail and some nasty rumors. During that same year a doctor diagnosed him with arrested syphilis and failing kidneys and bladder. By 1940 he had limited his travels and recordings. During this year he recorded "Step It Up and Go," a song that Long adapted after hearing it in Memphis and that would live long after Fuller's death. Fuller's last recording session was in 1941, and he died on February 13, 1941.