Sonny Terry

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Sonny Terry

Sonny Terry (born October 24, 1911 in Greensboro , Georgia , † March 11, 1986 in Mineola , New York ), actually Saunders Terrell , was an American blues singer and harmonica player .

Blinded in childhood by several accidents , Sonny Terry grew up with musical parents (in addition to his main job as a farmer, his father was also a folk musician) and soon developed his own onomatopoeic harmonica style, which also imitated the noises of trains and animal sounds and in which he often accompanied vocal sounds brought in. A major influence was accordion player DeFord Bailey , who appeared on the national radio show Grand Ole Opry . From 1929 Terry worked as a traveling musician and worked in the 1930s with Blind Boy Fuller , with whom he made recordings in New York from 1937–1940 until his death.

He was best known for his duo activity with the blues guitarist Brownie McGhee (* 1915, † 1996), with whom he toured and made recordings in the years 1941–1982. He also recorded with Woody Guthrie , Leadbelly , Pete Seeger , Champion Jack Dupree , Blind Gary Davis , Mississippi John Hurt , Big Bill Broonzy and other folk and blues greats.

1947 played Sonny Terry on Broadway in the musical Finian's Rainbow , 1955-1957 together with Brownie McGhee in the play Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1955 joint appearance in the film of the same name The cat on the hot tin roof ), in the 1950s he took even adverts (for Alka-Seltzer ).

In 1987 he was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame .


  • Folk Songs of Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee (Roulette, 1958)
  • The 1958 London Sessions / Sonny Terry & Browny McGhee , 1958
  • Blues with Big Bill Broonzy, Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee (Folkways, 1959)
  • Sonny Is King (Bluesville, 1963)
  • Sing & Play (Society, 1966)
  • Sonny & Brownie (A&M Records, 1973)
  • Whoopin ' ( feat.Johnny Winter & Willie Dixon / Alligator, 1984)
  • Brownie McGhee and Sonny Terry Sing (Smithsonian Folkways, 1990)
  • Whoopin 'the Blues: The Capitol Recordings, 1947-1950 (Capitol, 1995)

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