Personalities | Brownie McGhee | Forties | Jazz & Blues

(Guitar, vocals, 1915–96)

Walter Brown McGhee was born in Knoxville, Tennessee. He learned to play guitar before his tenth birthday and dropped out of school to play throughout the state in the late 1920s. He met Sonny Terry in 1939 and they joined forces almost immediately. McGhee began recording for OKeh in 1940 and moved to New York.

McGhee recorded on his own (without Terry) for several labels, notably Savoy. He was recorded in an R&B context throughout 1948–58, in addition to his own Piedmont-style acoustic blues and duets with Terry. The duo appeared in the Tennessee Williams Broadway drama Cat On A Hot Tin Roof from 1955–57 and toured England in 1958, going on to become regular visitors to Europe. McGhee continued to make his own recordings during the folk-blues revival of the early 1960s and the duo continued into the mid-1970s.

Styles & Forms | Forties | Jazz & Blues
Personalities | Big Jay McNeely | Forties | Jazz & Blues

Source: The Definitive Illustrated Encyclopedia of Jazz & Blues, founding editor Howard Mandel


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