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Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee

The joyous whoop that Sonny Terry naturally emitted between raucous harp blasts was as distinctive a signature sound as can possibly be imagined. Only a handful of blues harmonica players wielded as much of a lasting influence on the genre as did the sightless Terry (Buster Brown, for one, copied the whoop and all), who recorded some fine urban blues as a bandleader in addition to serving as guitarist Brownie McGhee's longtime duet partner.

Saunders Terrell's father was a folk-styled harmonica player who performed locally at dances, but blues wasn't part of his repertoire (he blew reels and jigs). Terry wasn't born blind, he lost sight in one eye when he was five, the other at age 18. That left him with extremely limited options for making any sort of feasible living, so he took to the streets armed with his trusty harmonicas. Terry soon joined forces with Piedmont pioneer Blind Boy Fuller, first recording with the guitarist in 1937 for Vocalion.

Terry's unique talents were given an extremely classy airing in 1938 when he was invited to perform at New York's Carnegie Hall at the fabled From Spirituals to Swing concert. He recorded for the Library of Congress that same year and cut his first commercial sides in 1940. Terry had met McGhee in 1939, and upon the death of Fuller, they joined forces, playing together on a 1941 McGhee date for OKeh and settling in New York as a duo in 1942. There they broke into the folk scene, working alongside Leadbelly, Josh White, and Woody Guthrie.

While Brownie McGhee was incredibly prolific in the studio during the mid-'40s, Terry was somewhat less so as a leader (perhaps most of his time was occupied by his prominent role in Finian's Rainbow on Broadway for approximately two years beginning in 1946). There were sides for Asch and Savoy in 1944 before three fine sessions for Capitol in 1947 (the first two featuring Stick McGhee rather than Brownie on guitar) and another in 1950.

Terry made some nice sides in an R&B mode for Jax, Jackson, Red Robin, RCA Victor, Groove, Harlem, Old Town, and Ember during the '50s, usually with Brownie close by on guitar. But it was the folk boom of the late '50s and early '60s that made Brownie and Sonny household names (at least among folk aficionados). They toured long and hard as a duo, cutting a horde of endearing acoustic duet LPs along the way, before scuttling their decades-long partnership amidst a fair amount of reported acrimony during the mid-'70s. ~ Bill Dahl
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Live At The New Penelope Cafe (Remastered)

1. Hooray Hooray (These Women Is Killing Me) (Remastered Live)

2. Cornbread, Peas And Black Molasses (Remastered Live)

3. Pack It Up And Go (Remastered Live)

4. Sportin' Life (Remastered Live)

5. Come On If You're Coming (Remastered Live)

6. Born With The Blues (Remastered Live)

7. Easy Rider (Remastered Live)

8. Hootin' The Blues (Remastered Live)

9. Under Your Hood (Remastered Live)

x

Track List: Blowin' the Fuses from Studio to Stage

1. Down by the Riverside

2. Blues for the Lowlands

3. Blowin' the Fuses

4. Trouble in Mind

5. Po' Boy

6. Drinkin' in the Blues

7. I'm a Stranger Here

8. Right on That Shore

9. Early Morning Blues

10. Blues for Gamblers

11. A Long Way from Home (Live)

12. I Can't See Why My Baby Don't Me No More (Live)

13. I Got a Woman (Live)

14. Sun's Gonna Shine (Live)

15. Hootin' the Blues (Live)

16. Don't Want You No More (Live)

17. I Feel so Good (Live)

18. Bring It on Home to Me (Live)

19. Nobody Else Will Do (Live)

20. Walk On (Live)

x

Track List: Folk Songs Of Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee

1. I Love You, Baby

2. Corn Bread, Peas And Black Molasses

3. That's How I Feel

4. You'd Better Mind

5. Treated Wrong

6. Brownie's Blues

7. Southern Train

8. Just A Dream (On My Mind)

9. Sonny's Blue

10. Gone But Not Forgotten

11. Change The Lock On The Door

12. Climbing On Top Of The Hill

x

Track List: Preachin' The Blues

1. Better Day

2. Confusion

3. Dark Road

4. John Henry

5. Let Me Make A Little Money

6. Old Jabo

7. I Love You, Baby

8. Guitar Highway

9. Heart In Sorrow

10. Preachin' The Blues

11. Can't Help Myself

12. Best Of Friends

13. If You Lose Your Money

x

Track List: Blues Six Pack

1. Born To Live The Blues (Live)

2. Midnight Special

3. Key To The Highway (Live At Sugar Hill)

4. California Blues

5. Sonny's Squall

6. One Scotch, One Bourbon, One Beer (Live At Sugar Hill)

x

Track List: Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee, Vol. E (1938-1941)

1. Go On Blues

2. Auto Mechanic Blues

3. I'm Talking About It

4. Dollar Bill

6. Harmonica Rag

7. Screamin' And Cryin' Blues

8. Beer Garden Blues

9. Worried Man Blues

10. Aunt Jane's Blues

12. So Long Baby

13. Poor Boy Blues

14. Custard Pie Blues

15. Early Morning Blues

16. Crow Jane Blues

17. Hot-Headed Woman

19. Married Woman Blues

20. Robbie-Doby Boogie

21. My Fault

22. Brown Mule Blues

23. Hard Bed Blues

24. My Bulldog Blues

25. Gin Headed Woman

x

Track List: Walk On (With Louisiana Red & Lightnin' Hopkins)

1. Sweet Home Chicago

2. Sweet Little Angel

3. (I'm A) King Bee

4. I'm Gonna Get On My Feets After A While

5. Old Jabo

6. I've Never Felt Like This Before

7. Good Morning Blues

8. My Father's Words

9. Walk On

10. Lightnin's Blues

11. Blues Is A Feeling

12. Trouble In Mind

x

Track List: Sun's Gonna Shine

1. Walk On

2. Blues For The Lowlands

3. Down By The Riverside

4. Drinking In The Blues

5. Right On That Shore

6. Blowing The Fuses

7. Blues For The Gamblers

8. Just Rode In Your Town

9. Po' Boy

10. Sun's Gonna Shine

x

Track List: Shake Down

1. Unfair Blues

3. Poor Boy Blues

4. Robbie-Doby-Boogie

6. Train Whistle Blues

7. Harmonica Blues

8. Shake Down Blues

9. Telephone Blues

10. Dirty Mistreater Don’t You Know

11. Crow Jane Blues

12. Hot Headed Woman

13. Big Legged Woman

14. Riff And Harmonica Jump

15. Harmonica Rag

x

Track List: Backwater Blues

1. Climbin' On Top Of The Hill (Live At Sugar Hill)

2. Louise (Live At Sugar Hill)

3. My Father's Words (Live At Sugar Hill)

4. Backwater Blues (Live At Sugar Hill)

5. Wine Headed Woman (Live At Sugar Hill)

6. Careless Love (Live At Sugar Hill)

7. Playing With The Blues (Live At Sugar Hill)

8. I Can't Sleep At Night (Live At Sugar Hill)

9. My Baby's Leavin' (Live At Sugar Hill)

10. Lose Your Money (Live At Sugar Hill)

11. Jet Plane Blues (Live At Sugar Hill)

12. Rainy Day (Live At Sugar Hill)

13. I'm A Stranger (Live At Sugar Hill)

14. Women On My String (Live At Sugar Hill)

15. One Scotch, One Bourbon, One Beer (Live At Sugar Hill)

16. Key To The Highway (Live At Sugar Hill)

17. You'd Better Mind (Live At Sugar Hill)

18. Walk On (Live At Sugar Hill)

x

Track List: Blues Masters Vol. 5

1. Rock Island Line

2. John Henry

3. The Chariot Is Coming

4. Two Points Of View

5. Midnight Special

6. Tears Rollin' Down

7. Backdoor Shine

8. Find My Way Home

9. Tryin' To Make It

10. Fast Old Freight Train

11. Old Lost John

12. From My Childhood

13. Chasing The Fox

x

Track List: Just A Closer Walk With Thee (Live)

1. Just A Closer Walk With Thee (Live)

2. Children Go Where I Send Thee (Live)

3. What A Beautiful City (Live)

4. Glory Glory (Live)

5. If I Could Hear My Mother Pray (Live)

6. I'm Going To Shout (Live)

7. I Shall Not Be Moved (Live)

8. Packing Up (Live)

9. Get Right Church (Live)

10. Some Of These Days (Live)

11. If You See My Saviour (Live)

12. You Can't Hide (Live)

x

Track List: California Blues

1. I Got Fooled

2. No Need Of Running

3. I Feel So Good

4. Thinkin' And Worrying

5. I Love You Baby

6. California Blues

7. Walkin' And Lyin' Down

8. First And Last Love

9. Christine

10. I Have Had My Fun

11. Whoppin' And Squallin'

12. Water Boy Cry

13. Motherless Child

14. Sportin' Life

15. John Henry

16. I'm A Stranger

17. Cornbread And Peas

18. Louise

19. I Done Done

20. Meet You In The Morning

21. Poor Boy From Home

22. Huddy Leadbelly

23. Something's Wrong

24. Take This Hammer

25. Baby's Gone

26. Lose Your Money

x

Track List: Back To New Orleans

1. Let Me Be Your Big Dog

2. Pawn Shop

3. You Don't Know

4. Betty & Dupree's Blues

5. Back To New Orleans

6. Stranger Here

7. Fox Hunt

8. I'm Prison Bound

9. Louise, Louise

10. Baby, How Long

11. Freight Train

12. I Got A Woman

13. Hold Me In Your Arms

14. The C. C. & O. Blues

15. The Devil's Gonna Get You

16. Don't You Lie To Me

17. That's Why I'm Walking

18. Wrong Track

19. Blue Feeling

20. House Lady

21. I Know Better

x

Track List: Midnight Special (Remastered)

1. Sonny's Squall

2. Red River Blues

3. Gone Gal

4. Blues Before Sunrise

5. Sweet Lovin' Kind

6. Midnight Special

7. Take This Hammer Whup

8. Too Nicey Mama

9. Meet Me Down The Bottom

10. Tryin' To Win

11. Blues All Around My Head

12. East Coast Blues

13. Muddy Water

14. Beggin' And Cryin'

15. My Plan

16. Trying To Destroy Me

17. Everything I Had Is Gone

18. Jealous Man

19. Understand Me

20. Blues Of Happiness

x

Track List: Sonny & Brownie

1. People Get Ready

2. Bring It On Home To Me

3. You Bring Out The Boogie In Me

4. Sail Away

5. Sonny's Thing

6. White Boy Lost In The Blues

7. The Battle Is Over (But The War Goes On)

8. Walkin My Blues Away

9. Big Wind (Is A Coming)

10. Jesus Gonna Make It Alright

11. God And Man

12. On The Road Again

x

Track List: Brownie McGhee And Sonny Terry Sing

1. Better Day

2. Confusion

3. Dark Road

4. John Henry

5. Make A Little Money (Let Me Make A Little Money)

6. Old Jabo

7. If You Lose Your Money

8. Guitar Highway

9. Heart In Sorrow

10. Preachin' The Blues

11. Can't Help Myself

12. Best Of Friends

13. Boogie Baby

Comments

Report as inappropriate
This song is awesome
Report as inappropriate
long live the Blue
Report as inappropriate
I saw Sonny and Brownie at the Golden Bear in Huntington Beach, ca. around 1970. Terry's style was amazing along with McGhee's fret work.
what a team? One of my many highlights in my life.... I was Blessed to witness one of the best harpist, do what he does best play the Blues.
Report as inappropriate
brownie and sonmy are better than muddy and walter but I would take buddy and juniot anytime.
Report as inappropriate
I used to see this great duo play at a small club in Hollywood called the Ashgrove. Must have been 1968-69, I was in High School. What an honor!
Report as inappropriate
the rhythm sounds a lot like the cornbread song
Report as inappropriate
mojoman383
His music lives on.
Report as inappropriate
very deep and nice.
Report as inappropriate
boogiespeed
no, His like won't pass this way again...

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