Prospects almost certainly were not great for Fuller once he lost his sight. The Wikipedia profile said that he turned to singing and entertaining to make due as best he could. He studied the records of Blind Blake and took lessons from Rev. Gary Davis, who also was blind. He became, in the profile’s words, a “formidable” guitarist and played around Danville, Virginia and Winston-Salem and Durham, North Carolina. One of his followers was Saunders Terrell, who eventually broke through as Sonny Terry.
Fuller played in the Piedmont style and was influential. Indeed, Terry’s long-time partner, Brownie McGhee, sounded so much like Fuller that for a time he was known as “Blind Boy Fuller No. 2.”
Fuller was discovered by a talent scout and record store manager named James Baxter Long. In 1935, he brought Fuller – along with Davis and George Washington (who had the great nickname “Bull City Red”) to New York City for a recording session on the ARC label. This led to more recordings and his eventual notoriety. Fuller died in 1941 — when he was all of 33 years old.
Above is “Truckin’ My Blues Away,” which Hot Tuna fans certainly will recognize. Below is “Step It Up and Go.”
Wikipedia and Musician Profiles were used to write this post.