ARTHUR "Blind"








There is very little reliably endorsed information about Arthur 'Blind' Blake and he remains one of the most enigmatic of the early bluesmen. Some sources state that his surname may originally have been Phelps but it is believed that he was born in Jacksonville, Florida, probably around the early 1890's. Little is also known about his early life except that he developed outstanding 'fingerpicking' guitar skills to become one of the greatest, if not the greatest at the art. It is generally accepted that he spent years travelling the southern USA States as an itinerant songster and his repertoire was wide, including blues, rag and music hall. He certainly made his first recording in 1926 backing singer Leola B. Wilson for Paramount.

He then moved to Chicago and recorded his own West Coast Blues and Early Morning Blues. Over the next six years he recorded 84 titles as a solo artist, and numerous as a "house" guitarist to artists like Ma Rainey and Ida Cox, Gus Cannon, and Papa Charlie Jackson. In the late 1920's he was living in Chicago playing house parties in the area with pianists like Charlie Spand and Little Brother Montgomery. From 1930-31 Blake toured with the Vaudeville show, "Happy-Go- Lucky" and then returned to Chicago for his final recording session for Paramount in 1932. After that he simply disappeared and contemporaries who were interviewed couldn't (or wouldn't) offer any explanation. It is generally supposed that he returned to the South and possibly died soon after, his death going unnoticed.

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