Piedmont blues musician Sonny Terry was born on this day in 1911. Injuries to his eyes caused him to go blind by the time he was 16, forcing him to be a musician in order to make money. After the death of his father (who had taught him the harmonica), he started playing with Blind Boy Fuller until his death in 1941, then formed a longstanding relationship with guitarist Brownie McGhee. They were popular during the folk music boom in the 1950’s and ’60’s.
Terry was part of the original cast of the 1947 play Finian’s Rainbow, for which he wrote “Hootin’ The Blues.” He told a story on a PBS special in the mid-’70’s where he and the producer of the play got into an argument where the producer said he had to do the song exactly the same every night. They went back and forth, Terry saying he couldn’t do it, the producer insisting he had to. Finally, Terry said, “How much you payin’ me?” The producer told him, and Terry said “Oh yeah, I’ll do it the same way every night!”