I have no idea how old I was when I first heard the sad singing guitar. I know I was very young. A few years later, I saw the man who played the sad singing guitar on television. He would sing a little and then play a little and his face made all kinds of ugly distortions, and I asked myself if all that was necessary to sing and play a song.
Often, I used to hide in my mother and daddy’s bedroom and listen to WTHB or WAUG radio stations. At that time, you heard his music mostly on what they called in the Deep South, The Negro Music Platform.
As I got older, I began to combine the melancholy tones he strummed on his guitar and his voice as one instrument. I saw his closed eyes and the distortions of his face when he sang as a sign of him having entered his world. The beat was in his soul; the tone came from his gut, and his fingers played what he saw there.
I never met him personally, but he affected my life in a big way. Through him, I learned that music didn’t flow through you cause you were intelligent, but because you chose to find your world where you could sing your heart out, to march to your own beat, and yes, feel the pain, the disappointment, and the joy of your life experiences.
My heart is sad today. It is singing the blues, honouring a man who came from the heart of the South, a man who became an inspiration for me and many musicians all over the world.
At age 89, The Thrill Is Gone. He has crossed over, but his legacy will live on.
Rest In Peace