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Furry Lewis | Everything you need to know about Blues Music

by | Mar 25, 2023

Furry Lewis | Everything you need to know about Blues Music

Furry Lewis, a celebrated blues musician, was born in Greenwood and lived most of his life in Memphis. He was one of the first blues guitarists from Mississippi or Memphis to record music in a studio, cutting six songs for Vocalion in 1927. Despite the critical acclaim of his 1927-29 Vocalion and Victor recordings, music did not provide a livelihood for Lewis. He worked various jobs for the city of Memphis, including street sweeper, garbage man, and night watchman.

In the 1960s, Lewis experienced a musical resurgence after the release of his first LP, produced by Sam Charters. He went on to record more albums and performed across the country for the new folk-blues audience. He gained national recognition with appearances on television shows and in films, including The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson and W. W. and the Dixie Dance Kings. He even opened a concert for the Rolling Stones and inspired a song, “Furry Sings the Blues,” by Joni Mitchell.

Despite losing a leg while trying to hop a freight train, Lewis continued to travel with a medicine show, play on the streets, and perform at parties, picnics, and saloons. He endeared himself to a young circle of fans, writers, and musicians who visited him, chauffeured him to gigs, and took turns going to the local pawn shop to recover his guitar or wooden leg.

Furry Lewis died on September 14, 1981, and was elected to the Blues Hall of Fame in 2012.



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