Blind Duke White

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Blind Duke White
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Died( 1947-12-09)December 9, 1947
CitizenshipUnited States Of America

Blind Duke White (? - April 9, 1947) was an American blues guitarist and singer. He was considered to be an important factor in the spread of Delta Blues music across the Southern United States. Until very recently, his tapes were possessed by a studio in Richmond, Indiana.[1]


Blind Duke White was born as William Lee in Mississippi, although the exact location is unknown. Some speculate he was born around 1912 or 1914. He was the 5th son of Jonathan and Martha Lee, a mixed-race couple who worked on a farm along with other families. His blindness may have been caused by alcoholism during pregnancy. From an early age he was proficient in English and music. At the age of 7, he performed gospel music for the first time in front of a group of friends and family. In 1923, Lee moved to Indiana in search of a music career. It was there he heard Charley Patton play, inspiring him to record his own songs[2]. He changed his name, inspired by Blind Willie McTell, and made his first recordings in Richmond, Indiana[3]. The recordings were filed away until recently, when it was discovered his songs were recorded onto tape. Five out of the ten tracks are currently in circulation, although extremely rare. During his short life, White traveled around most of the Southern United States. While living in Memphis, Tennessee, he played in a jug band. White died in Oklahoma after being caught in a tornado on April 9th, 1947[4]. He was on his way to visit relatives. Although it is nearly certain White died, his body was never found. His wrist watch, guitar, and personal belongings were found in a field some 30 miles from where he had been travelling.

Known Discography

Recording Date Recording Location Song
February 5, 1932 Richmond, Indiana Stackalee
February 13, 1932 Richmond, Indiana I Shall Not Be Moved
April 9, 1935 Richmond, Indiana Amazing Grace
December 3, 1942 Richmond, Indiana Born to Die (Fragment)
January 2, 1947 Oklahoma City, Oklahoma John the Revelator


  1. "Finding Aid for the Gennett Sound Recording Collection 1917-1930". Retrieved 2020-06-03.
  2. "Starr-Gennett Foundation | Charley Patton". Retrieved 2020-06-03.
  3. You Was Born to Die - Blind Duke White 1942 (VERY RARE) (DEMO), retrieved 2020-06-03
  4. US Department of Commerce, NOAA. "The Woodward Tornado of 9 April 1947". Retrieved 2020-06-03.

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