Baby Tate (January 28, 1916 – August 17,
1972) was an American Piedmont blues guitarist, who in a sporadic career
spanning five decades, worked variously with guitarists Blind Boy Fuller,
Pink Anderson, and Peg Leg Sam. His playing style was influenced by Blind
Blake, Buddy Moss, Blind Boy Fuller, Josh White, and Willie Walker, and to
some extent Lightnin' Hopkins.
Born Charles Henry Tate in Elberton, Georgia, he was raised in Greenville,
South Carolina. In his adolescence, Tate started performing locally, after
seeing Blind Blake in Elberton. Tate later
formed a trio with Joe Walker (the brother of Willie Walker) and Roosevelt
'Baby' Brooks and, up to 1932, played in the local area. As The Carolina
Blackbirds, they appeared on the radio station, WFBC, broadcasting from The
Jack Tar Hotel, but for the rest of the 1930s worked for a living, mainly as
Baby Tate served in the United States Army infantry during World War II in
the south of England, and did not return to the Spartanburg/Greenville club
circuit until 1946. Nevertheless, in 1950 Tate claimed to have recorded
several (unreleased) tracks for the Kapp label. Relocating to Spartanburg,
South Carolina, he performed solo before forming an occasional duo with Pink
Anderson; a working relationship that endured through to the 1970s.
Tate released his only album, Blues of Baby Tate:See What You Done Done, in
1962, and twelve months later appeared in Sam Charters' documentary film The
Blues. Throughout the 1960s Tate performed irregularly across the US.
Utilising another harmonica player, Peg Leg Sam, Tate recorded around forty
tracks in August and December 1970 for Peter B. Lowry, but the proposed
album remained unreleased once Tate had unexpectedly died. He appeared at a
concert at the State University of New York at New Paltz, New York as a
result of Lowry's efforts in 1972.
Tate died from the effects of a heart attack, in the VA Hospital in
Columbia, South Carolina, in August 1972, at the age of 56.
In January 2011, Baby Tate was nominated for The 10th Annual Independent
Music Awards in the Blues Song category for 'See What You Done'.
Smithsonian Folkways released a compilation album on February 16, 2010,
titled Classic Appalachian Blues. It featured the Baby Tate number, 'See
What You Done Done.'