Blind Willie McTell And The Allman Brothers (And Others)
October 15, 2021
William Samuel McTell may have lost his sight during childhood, but that didn’t stop him from becoming one of the most influential blues musicians of his time — and a local hero. While his impact on Statesboro is evident all over town, his likeness has finally been immortalized with a bronze statue created by Georgia Southern University art professor Marc Moulton, M.F.A.
McTell was born in Thomson, Georgia, in the late 1800s, and he learned to play the guitar after moving to Statesboro, where he lived until his mother died in the 1920s. He learned the standard six-string guitar first, but he eventually began to play the 12-string exclusively.
Soon after his mother’s death, McTell moved to Atlanta and became a professional musician. He would then play music across the country before his death in 1959.
In 1928, McTell recorded his most famous song, “Statesboro Blues” for Victor Records in Atlanta. The song’s popularity exploded after The Allman Brothers Band covered it in 1971, and people still visit Statesboro because of the song. (Darn, I thought I was the first. 🤪)