|Jesse Fuller - UK Promo Single 1965|
Some Artwork Included
Jesse Fuller (March 12, 1896 – January 29, 1976) was an American one-man band musician, best known for his song "San Francisco Bay Blues".
Fuller was born in Jonesboro, Georgia, near Atlanta. He was sent by his mother to live with foster parents when he was a young child, in a rural setting where he was badly mistreated. Growing up, he worked a multitude of jobs: grazing cows for ten cents a day, working in a barrel factory, a broom factory, a rock quarry, on a railroad and a streetcar company, shining shoes, and even peddling hand-carved wooden snakes.By the age of ten he was playing guitar in two techniques, as he described it, "frailing" and "picking."
He came west and in the 1920s he lived in Southern California, where operated a hot-dog stand and was befriended by Douglas Fairbanks. He worked briefly as a film extra in The Thief of Bagdad and East of Suez. In 1929 he settled in Oakland, California, across the bay from San Francisco, where he worked for the Southern Pacific railroad. He married, and he and his wife Gertrude had a family. During World War II, he worked as a shipyard welder, but when the war ended he found it increasingly difficult to secure employment. Around the early 1950s, Fuller's thoughts turned toward the possibility of making a living playing music.
Starting locally, in clubs and bars in San Francisco and across the bay in Oakland and Berkeley, Fuller became more widely known when he performed on television in both the Bay Area and Los Angeles, and in 1958 his recording career started with his first album on the Good Time Jazz record label.
Fuller's instruments included 6-string guitar (an instrument which he had abandoned before the beginning of his one-man band career), 12-string guitar, harmonica, kazoo, cymbal (high-hat) and fotdella. He could play several instruments simultaneously, particularly with the use of a head-piece to hold the harmonica, kazoo, and a microphone. In addition, he would generally include at least one tap dance, soft-shoe or "buck and wing" in his sets, accompanying himself on the 12-string guitar as he danced.
|Jesse Fuller Album UK 1966|
The fotdella was a musical instrument of Fuller's own creation and construction. He built at least two of them, in slightly different patterns, as evidenced in photographs and film footage of his performances.
As a one-man band, Fuller's problem was how to supply a more substantial accompaniment than the typical high-hat (cymbal) or bass drum used by other street musicians. His solution, the fotdella, was a foot-operated percussion bass, consisting of a large upright wood box, shaped like the top of a double bass. Attached to a short neck at the top of this box were six piano bass strings, stretched down over the body. The means to play the strings consisted of six piano or organ foot pedals, each connected to a padded piano hammer which struck the string.
|Jesse Fuller 1960|
The name was coined by his wife, who took to calling the instrument a "foot-diller" (as in a "killer-diller" instrument played with the foot), which was shortened to fotdella. The term "foot piano" has been used by some performers and musicologists to describe this type of devise.
Fuller died in January 1976 in Oakland, California, from heart disease. He was 79 years of age. He was interred at Evergreen Cemetery in Oakland. Both his fotdella and his 1962 Silvertone Electric-Acoustic guitar (the latter purchased in Detroit at a Sears and Roebuck store to replace his Maurer guitar, which had been stolen while he was on tour) are in the possession of the Smithsonian Institution.
Influence on other musicians:
• The Grateful Dead ("The Monkey and the Engineer" and "Beat It on Down the Line")
• Hot Tuna
• Peter, Paul and Mary
• Janis Joplin ("San Fancisco Bay Blues")
• Glenn Yarbrough
• Richie Havens
• Eric Clapton
• Paul McCartney
• Bob Dylan ("You're No Good", on his debut album in 1962)
JESSE FULLER 1962-04-24, Ida Noyes Hall University of Chicago, Chicago, IL
01. John Henry 11:39
02. San Francisco Bay Blues (Jesse Fuller) 3:48
03. Hesitation Blues 4:57
04. I'm Going to Sit at the Welcome Table 4:33
05. C.C. Rider 4:19
06. Corinna, Corrina 3:20
07. Take It Slow and Easy 3:05
08. untitled boogie 6:50
09. Stranger Blues 4:15
10. Bye and Bye 2:57
11. Stagger Lee 3:55
12. Down Home Waltz 2:10
13. Buck and Wing 3:23
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