Smokestack Lightnin' Home Page -- The Blues Profile Page
Saunders Terrell, better known as Sonny Terry (24 October 1911, Greensboro, North Carolina - 11 March 1986, Mineola, New York) was a blind blues musician. He was most widely known for his energetic blues harmonica style, which frequently included vocal whoops and hollers, and imitations of trains and fox hunts.
In 1938 Terry was invited to play at Carnegie Hall for the first From Spirituals to Swing concert, and later that year he recorded for the Library of Congress. In 1940 Terry recorded his first commercial sides. Some of his most famous works include "Old Jabo" a song about a man bitten by a snake and "Lost John" in this he demonstrates his amazing breath control combined with over blows and bends.
Despite their fame as "pure" folk artists, in the 1940s, Terry and McGhee fronted a jump blues combo with honking saxophone and rolling piano that was variously called Brownie McGhee and his Jook House Rockers or Sonny Terry and his Buckshot Five.
Terry was also in the 1947 original cast of the Broadway musical comedy, Finian's Rainbow.
Terry's song "Fox Chase" was used by the experimental filmmaker Len Lye as the soundtrack for his short film, Color Cry (1952). "Old Lost John" was used by Werner Herzog at the conclusion of his 1977 feature film, Stroszek, and he also appeared in The Color Purple. More recently Terry's track "Whoopin' The Blues" was used for a EON Wind Farm brand commercial.
Terry died in 1986, the year he was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame.