Blind Percy & His Blind Band

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It is unknown who the members of Blind Percy & His Blind Band were, and in fact one can question whether any or all of them were even blind. An expert on the topic of blues singers with the prefix…
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It is unknown who the members of Blind Percy & His Blind Band were, and in fact one can question whether any or all of them were even blind. An expert on the topic of blues singers with the prefix of "Blind" before their name was blues and folk performer Josh White. He paid his dues -- and the concept is certainly understandable in this case -- as a lead boy for more than 60 different blind singers. Among them was Blind Joe Taggart, a blues gospel performer, who like the similar and much better known Blind Willie Johnson, often gigged and recorded with female accompaniment. According to White, Taggart suffered from cataracts but was hardly blind. Taggart definitely recorded some non-gospel blues numbers under the name of Blind Joe Amos, and may have also cut tracks such as "Pennsylvania Woman Blues" under the name of Six Cylinder Smith. There is much evidence that the latter artist was the same man who recorded under the name of Blind Percy, so by connecting the Braille dots one might even come to the conclusion that Blind Percy is actually Blind Joe Taggart. This is not a theory that every blues scholar agrees with, however. Harmonica enthusiasts see Six Cylinder Smith and possibly Blind Percy as some of the extremely few proponents of a style of harmonica playing known as "rack harmonica." This is the way Bob Dylan plays harmonica, on a wire rack that fits over the performer's head and rests on his shoulders. In blues, the common harmonica style involves a performer playing the harmonica and only the harmonica, cupping the instrument in the hand and adding important adjustments to the sound with various exotic hand motions. None of this is possible with a rack mount, although scraping the inner part of the ear while putting the thing on certainly is. No photographs exist of Smith or Blind Percy; if they did, sophisticated photo editing technology might be able to locate such ear scrapes and help establish who is who and how whoever it was played the harmonica and the guitar at the same time, if they actually did. White has never acknowledged that his former boss Taggart could be either Smith or Percy. The Chicago blues guitarist Jimmie Lee Robinson indicated in an interview that "a man named Blind Percy" taught him guitar rudiments. This would place Blind Percy, possibly Six Cylinder Smith, in Chicago in the '30s and '40s. His recordings from the decade before have been anthologized in collections of music from Texas/Louisiana/Arkansas bluesmen, as well as in complete collections of Taggart because of the identity questions. Tracks attributed to Blind Percy include "Coal River Blues" and "Fourteenth Street Blues."