Blind Boy Fuller mural by Scott Nurkin.

Blind Boy Fuller, born Fulton Allen in 1907, was a blind blues musician from North Carolina known for his influential fingerpicking style and soulful vocals. Rising from a background of poverty and blindness, Fuller made a name for himself as a street performer before gaining recognition through his prolific recording career, which produced over 120 tracks. His music, characterized by a blend of Piedmont blues, ragtime, and folk influences, resonated deeply with audiences during the Great Depression. Despite his untimely death at the age of 33 in 1941, Fuller's legacy endures, with his recordings continuing to inspire and influence generations of musicians in the blues genre.

"I got coffee grinds in my coffee
Boll weevils in my meal
Tacks in my shoes
Keep stickin in my heels
I keep on walkin', trying to walk my trouble away
I'm so glad trouble don't last always"


Blind Boy Fuller was a renowned American blues musician born in Wadesboro, North Carolina, on July 10, 1907. His birth name was Fulton Allen, but he became better known by his stage name, Blind Boy Fuller, owing to his blindness and admiration for fellow blind musician Blind Blake. Losing his sight during childhood due to untreated blindness, Fuller turned to music as a means of livelihood.

Fuller's music career began in the 1920s, primarily as a street performer, playing his guitar and harmonica in various cities across the southeastern United States. He eventually settled in Durham, North Carolina, where he gained recognition for his unique style blending Piedmont blues with elements of ragtime and folk music.

Blind Boy Fuller close up from Scott Nurkin mural.

In 1935, Fuller's talent was discovered by J.B. Long, a talent scout for the American Record Company, leading to Fuller's first recording session. This marked the beginning of his prolific recording career, during which he produced over 120 tracks for various record labels, including ARC, Decca, and Vocalion. Some of his most popular songs include "Step It Up and Go," "Truckin' My Blues Away," and "Get Your Yas Yas Out."

Blind Boy Fuller's distinctive fingerpicking technique and soulful vocals resonated with audiences, earning him widespread acclaim and establishing him as one of the leading figures in Piedmont blues. His music often reflected the struggles and joys of everyday life, resonating deeply with listeners during the Great Depression.

Tragically, Fuller's career was cut short when he passed away on February 13, 1941, at the age of 33, due to complications from pneumonia and kidney failure. Despite his untimely death, his influence on the blues genre endured, inspiring generations of musicians, including Brownie McGhee, who went on to achieve fame as a blues artist in his own right.

Blind Boy Fuller's legacy lives on through his recordings, which continue to captivate audiences with their raw emotion and timeless appeal. He remains a celebrated figure in the history of blues music, revered for his talent, innovation, and contribution to the genre's rich tapestry.

Baby, You Gotta Change Your Mind

He married young, to Cora Allen, and worked as a laborer. He began to lose his eyesight when he was in his mid-teens.  According to the researcher Bruce Bastin, "While he was living in Rockingham he began to have trouble with his eyes. He went to see a doctor in Charlotte who allegedly told him that he had ulcers behind his eyes, the original damage having been caused by some form of snow-blindness." Only the first part of this diagnosis was correct. A 1937 eye examination attributed his vision loss to the long-term effects of untreated neonatal conjunctivitis.