William McTier was born in 1898 in Thomson, Georgia. He was born blind in one eye, losing the rest of his sight during childhood. He began playing in his teens and became proficient with the 12 string guitar using a finger-style. This was unusual among his contemporaries. He also played slide guitar. He took the name Blind Willie McTell early in his career.
He was first recorded in 1927 on Victor records. His recording career was also different from most of his fellow players of the day in that he was still playing and recording into the 1950’s. As we have seen, most either died young, or quit during the depression and went home. He was one of the artists that John Lomax put on record for posterity in the Library of Congress, making several recordings of him during the 1940’s. He died of a stroke in 1959. During his career, he never truly had a major hit, yet was extremely prolific, leaving a legacy that would influence many. Take a listen to this song and think of who this could be today.
I don’t know about you, but I clearly hear Eric Clapton buried in there. Great song. Here is one of his most covered songs.
Here is a live version by the Allman Brothers recorded in 1982.
Here is a version of Lord Send Me An Angel by the White Stripes.
Lord Send Me An Angel
This one is a classic, Mick Taylor doing a Bob Dylan tribute song, “Blind Willie McTell” live. It does not get any better than this.
- Bob Dylan Performs ‘Blind Willie McTell’ at the Critics Choice Awards (wcbsfm.radio.com)