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Tommy McClennan


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Tommy McClennan (January 4, 1905 – May 9, 1961) was an American Delta blues singer and guitarist.

Tommy McClennan was born in Yazoo City in April of 1908, according to Big Bill Broonzy in his book “Big Bill Blues.” However, McClennan’s death certificate cites his birthplace as Durant (Holmes County) and the date as January 4, 1905.” He played and sang blues in a rough, energetic style.

He made a series of recordings for Bluebird Records from 1939 through 1942 and regularly played with his friend Robert Petway. He can be heard shouting in the background on Petway’s 1942 recording “Boogie Woogie Woman”. McClennan made an immediate impact in 1940 with his recordings of “Shake ‘Em on Down”, “Bottle It Up and Go”, “Whiskey Head Woman” and “New Highway No.51”.
He left a powerful legacy that included “Cross Cut Saw Blues” later covered by Albert King, “My baby’s gone” (covered and adapted by Moon Mullican), “Deep Blue Sea Blues” (aka “Catfish Blues”), and others whose lasting power has been evidenced through the repertoires and re-recordings of other artists. McClennan’s “I’m A Guitar King” was included on the 1959 collection issued by Folkways Records, The Country Blues.

His name was variously spelled McClinton, McLindon, McCleland, and McClenan on documents, although the McClennan spelling was used on all of his recordings.


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  • thestr8sounds

    excellant, I'm a Guitar King is great song

    25 Aug 2009 Reply
  • wendell3

    Well unless they were wire recordings -- and these sound way too high-fidelity for that -- then they presumably ALL had to be 78s, even the masters? Maybe they had actual metal masters or stampers in the archives. Anyway I guess it certainly was the age of electrical recording by then, but shit... :-) Really surprising!

    24 Jun 2008 Reply
  • CoolJack

    Yeah wendell I was really surprised at the quality of Tommy McClennans records. My guess is that they were really well preserved in the Bluebird archives.. If you listen to alot of other Bluebird recordings such as those by Peetie wheatstraw that were recorded around the same time as Tommy McClennan they are of similar quality. Though by comparison Bo Carters late bluebird recordings are no where near as well preserved. Though guess that was because they were recorded from 78's rather than the masters.

    31 May 2008 Reply
  • wendell3

    Is it just me or are these recording from the Complete Recordings collections peculiarly high-fidelity for their apparent age?

    6 May 2008 Reply
  • Foghat

    me too

    28 Nov 2007 Reply

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