Our Georgia History

William Samuel 'Blind Willie' McTell
May 5, 1901 William Samuel "Blind Willie" McTell is born, Thomson, Georgia
  William Samuel 'Blind Willie' McTell
October 17, 1928 Blind Willie McTell records Statesboro Blues
  William Samuel 'Blind Willie' McTell
October 31, 1931 Blind Willie McTell records Georgia Rag
  William Samuel 'Blind Willie' McTell
August 19, 1959 Blind Willie McTell dies from a cerebral hemhorrage, Milledgeville, Georgia
  William Samuel 'Blind Willie' McTell

"And I know no one can sing the blues, Like Blind Willie McTell"
Bob Dylan

The most fitting tribute to this icon of blues music is Bob Dylan's 1983 song simply called "Blind Willie McTell." In his 58 years, McTell did more to revolutionize the genre that any other Georgian artist. His lifelong blindness, itinerant nature, confusing list of recording names, and lack of commercial success did not diminish this performer's legendary prowess with a twelve-string guitar and his crystal-clear articulation, a feature rare among early blues music.

In his day Blind Willie McTell was known as Pig n' Whistle Red, Red Hot Willie, Blind Sammie, even "Georgia Bill," depending on which company he was recording for at the time. Many of his early recordings were made at studios in Atlanta, and he frequently supplemented his income by playing on Decatur Street, a rowdy bar-lined area ridden with prostitutes.

Blind Willie eventually moved to Chicago, where he continued to record and play the streets, finally returning to Georgia, where he died.

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