Blind Blake biography



Blind Blake "Blind" Blake (born Arthur Blake, circa 1893, Jacksonville, Florida; died: circa 1933) was an influential blues singer and guitarist. He is often called "The King Of Ragtime Guitar". There is only one photograph of him in existence. Blind Blake recorded about 80 tracks for Paramount Records in the late 1920s and early 1930s. He was one of the most accomplished guitarists of his genre with a surprisingly diverse range of material. His complex and intricate fingerpicking has inspired Reverend Gary Davis, Jorma Kaukonen, Ry Cooder, Ralph Mctell and many others. He is most known for his distinct guitar sound that was comparable in sound and style to a ragtime piano. Very little is known about his life. His birthplace was listed as Jacksonville, Florida by Paramount Records but even that is in dispute. Nothing is known of his death. Even his name is not certain. During recordings he was asked about his real name and he answered that his name was Blind Arthur Blake which is also listed on some of the song credits, strengthening his case on his real name, although there is a suggestion that his real name was Arthur Phelps. His first recordings were made in 1926 and his records sold well. His first solo record was "Early Morning Blues" with "West Coast Blues" on the B-side. Both are considered excellent examples of his style. Blake made his last recordings in 1932, the end of his career aided by Paramount's bankruptcy. It is often said that the later recordings have much less sparkle and, allegedly, Blind Blake was drinking heavily in his later years. It is likely that this led to his early death. It should be noted that on a few records where white jazz guitarist Eddie Lang sat in with African American groups, the record companies listed Lang as "Blind Blake". Most of those recordings, principally with Lonnie Johnson gave Lang the name Blind Willy Dunn. It should also be noted that there is an entirely different artist who also recorded multiple LPs under the name "Blind Blake." Alphonso "Blind Blake" Higgs was one of the most popular singers in The Bahamas in the 1950s, leading the house band at the Royal Victoria Hotel. His records were spread all over the U.S. by tourist fans, and several of his songs became folk standards. (Even Johnny Cash was influenced, basing his hit "Delia" on an old blues ballad from Georgia that Blake had adapted into a calypso).