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Sonny Terry

Biography

Harmonica participant Sonny Terry was among the preliminary bluesmen who also crossed more than into areas not normally from the genre before he arrived. Together with his partner, guitarist Brownie McGhee, Terry performed on several folk recordings with famous brands Woody Guthrie, created an acting profession showcased on tv and Broadway, rather than compromised his exclusive high-pitched penetrating harmonica design known as whoopin’. Sonny Terry was created Saunders Terrell on Oct 24, 1911, in Greensboro, GA. He dropped his view by enough time he was 16 in two independent accidents. His dad performed harmonica in regional functions around city and trained Terry young. Recognizing his eyesight would maintain him from going after an occupation in farming, Terry made the decision instead to be always a blues vocalist. He began planing a trip to close by Raleigh and Durham, NC, carrying out on street edges for suggestions. In 1934, he befriended the favorite guitarist Blind Boy Fuller. Fuller confident Terry to go to Durham, where in fact the two instantly gained a solid local pursuing. By 1937, these were offered a chance to visit NY and record for the Vocalion label. A 12 months later, Terry will be back in NY getting involved in John Hammond’s famous Spirituals to Golf swing concert, where he performed one of is own memorable music, “Hill Blues.” Upon time for Durham, Terry continuing playing frequently with Fuller and in addition met his long term partner, guitarist Brownie McGhee, who accompany Terry on / off for another 2 decades. McGhee was delivered to take care of Terry by Blind Boy’s supervisor, J.B. Long. Lengthy figured McGhee could easily get an opportunity to play a number of the same displays as Terry. A camaraderie developed between your two guys and pursuing Fuller’s loss of life in 1941, Terry and McGhee transferred to NY. The change demonstrated fruitful because they instantly discovered steady function, playing concerts both being a duo and single. Terry became an in-demand program player who began showing up frequently in the information of folk luminaries including Leadbelly, Woody Guthrie, and Pete Seeger. An performing function was also initiated at the moment, within the long-running Broadway creation of Finian’s Rainbow in 1946. With the middle-’50s, Terry and McGhee started broadening their collective horizons and journeyed extensively beyond NY. They released a variety of recordings for brands like Folkways, Savoy, and Illusion that crossed the limitations of race, getting well-known in folk and blues circles executing for monochrome audiences. It had been also within the middle-50s that Terry and McGhee recognized jobs on Broadway, signing up for the ensemble of Cat on the Scorching Tin Roof, revealing these to a straight broader target audience. In the first ’60s, the duo performed at several folk and blues celebrations all over the world, while Terry discovered time to use vocalist Harry Belafonte and in tv advertisements. Terry was continuously traveling through the entire ’70s, stopping just long enough to create his instructional publication, The Harp Varieties of Sonny Terry. From the middle-’70s, any risk of strain of being on the highway progressed into personal complications between McGhee and Terry. Regrettably, they resigned their lengthy partnership, divided from the bitterness of continuous touring. Terry was still getting discovered by way of a youthful blues era via the Johnny Winter-produced record Whoopin’ for the Alligator label, offering Wintertime and Willie Dixon. Wintertime had created a comeback record for Muddy Waters (Hard Once again) that helped rejuvenate his profession, and he was trying exactly the same with Terry. With the ’80s, Terry’s age group was getting up with him. He give up recording in support of recognized sporadic live performances. Terry passed on in 1986, the entire year he was inducted in to the Blues Foundations Hall of Popularity.

Quick Facts


Full Name Sonny Terry
Died March 11, 1986, Mineola, New York, United States
Profession Actor, Film Score Composer
Nationality American
Music Groups Almanac Singers
Music Songs Whoopin' the Blues, Hootin' Blues, Bring It On Home To Me, You'd Better Mind, People Get Ready, Treated Wrong, Hooray Hooray, Blowin' the Fuses, Harmonica Stomp, Born and Livin' with the Blues, White Boy Lost In The Blues, Down by the Riverside, Red River Blues, Crow Jane, Lost John, Harmonica and Washboard Breakdown, Right on That Shore, Harmonica Blues, Jesus Gonna Make It Alright, I’m a Stranger Here, One Monkey Don't Stop the Show, The New John Henry, Drinking in the Blues, New Love Blues, Dark Road, Cornbread, Peas & Black Molasses, Diggin' My Potatoes, I Couldn't Believe My Eyes, Key to the Highway, Back To New Orleans, Livin' With the Blues, Take a Trip With Me
Albums Sonny & Brownie, Midnight Special, Whoopin', Back Country Blues, At Sugar Hill (Remastered), Sonny Is King, Stranger Blues, Fox Chase, A Long Way From Home, Backwater Blues, Down South Summit Meeting, California Blues, Back to New Orleans, Get on Board: Negro Folksongs by the Folkmasters, Sonny's Story (Remastered), Sonny Terry and His Mouth-Harp, Sonny Terry's Washboard Band, Just A Closer Walk With Thee, Harmonica and Vocal Solos (Mono Version), Brownie & Sonny: The Giants Of The Blues (Digitally Remastered), London 1958, True Blues, I Couldn't Believe My Eyes Plus..., City Blues, Last Great Blues Hero, Talkin' 'Bout the Blues, Folk Blues, Blowing The Fuses, The Essential, Blues Mood, Live at The New Penelope Café (Remastered), Walk On, East Coast Harmonica Blues, Bothers In Blues, Hit Wonder: Sonny Terry, Vol. 2, When He Shines, Blowin' the Fuses, Sonny Terry 1938-1953: Mountain Harmonica (The Blues), All Alone Blues, Cripple Creek 2, Whoopin' The Blues, Vol. 2, Down Home Blues (Mono Version), When He Shines, Vol. 3, Chicken Hop, Robbin' the Grave, Whoopin' The Blues, Vol. 1, Terry Way, Blowing The Blues, The History of Jazz, Doggin' My Heart Around, Blowin' the Fuses from Studio to Stage
Movies The Jerk, Stroszek, Book of Numbers, Color Cry


  • Facts
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Soundtrack

Soundtrack

TitleYearStatusCharacter
Good Hair 2009 Documentary performer: "One Monkey Don't Stop No Show" / writer: "One Monkey Don't Stop No Show"
Physical Graffiti: A Classic Album Under Review 2008 Video documentary writer: "Penicillin Blues"
Superbad 2007 performer: "Dangerous Woman With A 45 In Her Hand"
Austin City Limits 2006 TV Series documentary writer - 1 episode
Deadwood TV Series performer - 1 episode, 2004 writer - 1 episode, 2004
The Blues 2003 TV Series documentary performer - 2 episodes
The Soul of a Man 2003 Documentary performer: "John Henry"
Gangs of New York 2002 arranger: "New Careless Love" / performer: "New Careless Love"
Dogfight 1991 performer: "GUITAR HIGHWAY"
Highway 61 1991 performer: "Big Wind is a Comin'"
A Matter of Degrees 1990 performer: "Blue Feeling"
Arena 1988 TV Series documentary performer - 1 episode
Crossroads 1986 performer: "WALKIN' BLUES" / writer: "WALKIN' BLUES"
The Color Purple 1985 writer: "I Ain't Gonna Sing No Mo" - as Saunders Sonny Terry
The Jerk 1979 performer: "Pick A Bale Of Cotton"
Stroszek 1977 performer: "Old Lost John" / writer: "Old Lost John"
The Old Grey Whistle Test TV Series performer - 1 episode, 1973 writer - 1 episode, 1973
Book of Numbers 1973 performer: "I Walk with the Lord", "Blue Boy Holler", "He's Alright", "I'm So Glad", "Blue's Last Walk"
Cisco Pike 1972 performer: "Wailin' and Whoopin'" / writer: "Wailin' and Whoopin'"
Dave's Place 1965 TV Series performer - 1 episode
Loving 2016 performer: "Feel So Good"
Born to Be Blue 2015 performer: "One Monkey Don't Stop the Show" / writer: "One Monkey Don't Stop the Show"
American Horror Story 2013 TV Series performer - 1 episode
House of Lies TV Series performer - 1 episode, 2013 writer - 1 episode, 2013
House at the End of the Street 2012 performer: "Crazy 'Bout You Baby"
The Big Something 2011 performer: "Dirty Mistreater, Don't You Know", "Riff and Harmonica Jump"
Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans 2009 performer: "OLD LOST JOHN" / writer: "OLD LOST JOHN"
True Blood 2009 TV Series performer - 1 episode
Ghost Bird 2009 Documentary performer: "Lost John"

Music Department

Music Department

TitleYearStatusCharacter
Leadbelly 1976 musician
Buck and the Preacher 1972 featured musician
Color Cry 1952 Short musician: harmonica and vocals

Actor

Actor

TitleYearStatusCharacter
The Color Purple 1985 Jook Joint Musician (as Saunders Sonny Terry)
The Jerk 1979 Blues Singer

Composer

Composer

TitleYearStatusCharacter
Stroszek 1977
Color Cry 1952 Short

Self

Self

TitleYearStatusCharacter
Freedom Highway: Songs that Shaped a Century 2001 Documentary Himself
Woody Guthrie: Hard Travelin' 1984 Documentary
Shoutin' the Blues 1979 Documentary Himself
Blues Under the Skin 1973 Documentary Bluesman
The Old Grey Whistle Test 1973 TV Series Himself
The Virginia Graham Show 1971 TV Series Himself
Whoopin' the Blues 1969 Documentary short Himself
Festival 1967 Documentary Himself
Dave's Place 1965 TV Series Himself
A Roomful of Music 1965 TV Series Himself - Performer
Blues and Gospel Train 1964 TV Movie Himself
The Revlon Revue 1959 TV Series Himself
The Sunday Break 1958 TV Series Himself
To Hear Your Banjo Play 1947 Short Himself

Archive Footage

Archive Footage

TitleYearStatusCharacter
Folk America 2009 TV Series documentary Himself
Folk Britannia 2006 TV Series documentary Himself
The Blues 2003 TV Series documentary Himself
Legends of Country Blues Guitar 1994 Video Himself (uncredited)
Bluesland: A Portrait in American Music 1993 Documentary Himself - Performer
Arena 1988 TV Series documentary Himself

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