Blues Fans Seek Monument To Durham Legend
Posted June 10, 2001
DURHAM — He was a giant among blues musicians and an inspiration to people around the world, but Durham's Blind Boy Fuller has never been recognized by the city and state he called home. Now, a group of people who seemed to have little in common found a bond in the Piedmont blues he mastered.
"Living in Raleigh and working in Durham, I couldn't understand why there weren't any monuments celebrating Blind Boy fuller," says Jim Walton.
When Fuller lost his eyesight in his mid-20s, he picked up the nickname Blind Boy and also picked up guitar for the first time. His music could be heard throughout the Bull City.
He would play on the sidewalks near the tobacco warehouses, and during that time, he made more than 100 recordings.
"That was phenomenal when you look at the short span of time. He did it in five years, from 1935-40," says fan Darrell Stover.
The house where Blind Boy Fuller lived still stands. It sits in a section of Durham's historic Hayti neighborhood. Even today, blues lovers come here just to take a picture.
"It needs to be turned into a museum," Walton says.
For the last two years, the group has worked feverishly on their Historical Marker project. When word got out, letters poured in from blues fans and musicians all over the world.
"It's been interesting. These are blues fanatics and they have a strong opinion about blues. And we work together tightly, because we have a goal," says fan John Schelp.
On June 16 at 10 a.m., the city will erect a marker near the legend's gravesite.
"I think if he knew about it, he'd be feeling pretty good," Schlep says.