Tommy McClennan

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Tommy McClennan
Born(1905-01-04)January 4, 1905
Durant, Mississippi, U.S.
DiedMay 9, 1961(1961-05-09) (aged 56)
Chicago, Illinois
Genres Delta blues, country blues, blues
Instruments Guitar
Years active1939–1942
Labels Bluebird
Associated acts Robert Petway

Tommy McClennan (January 4, 1905 [1] May 9, 1961) was an American Delta blues singer and guitarist. [2]


Life and career

McClennan was born in Durant, Mississippi, and grew up in the town. He played and sang blues in a rough, energetic style.

He made a series of recordings for Bluebird Records from 1939 [3] through 1942. He regularly played with his friend Robert Petway. [4] His voice is heard in the background on Petway's recording of "Boogie Woogie Woman" (1942). [5] McClennan's singles in this period included "Bottle It Up and Go", "New Highway No. 51", "Shake 'Em on Down", and "Whiskey Head Woman". [5]

Several of his songs have been covered by other musicians, including "Cross Cut Saw Blues" (covered by Albert King) and "My Baby's Gone" (Moon Mullican). [6] McClennan's "I'm a Guitar King" was included in the 1959 collection The Country Blues , issued by Folkways Records.

McClennan died of bronchopneumonia in Chicago, Illinois, on May 9, 1961. [1] [7]


"He had a different style of playing a guitar", Big Bill Broonzy said. "You just make the chords and change when you feel like changing" [5]

John Fahey's "Screaming and Hollerin' the Blues" contains an interview with Booker Miller, a contemporary of Charlie Patton's, in which Miller mentioned someone who is most likely Tommy McClennan, though Miller did not know his name: "... and I saw another fella he put some records out, they (him and Willie Brown) be together, but he be by himself when I see him, they called him "Sugar"... I ain't never known him as nothing but Sugar, he put out a record called Bottle Up and Go... I sold him my guitar."

Bob Dylan covered Tommy McClennan's track, "Highway 51" (which was written by Curtis Jones), on his self-titled debut album in 1962. [8]

See also

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  1. 1 2 "Tommy McClennan". Retrieved 2015-08-30.
  2. Du Noyer, Paul (2003). The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Music (1st ed.). Fulham, London: Flame Tree Publishing. p. 181. ISBN   1-904041-96-5.
  3. Russell, Tony (1997). The Blues: From Robert Johnson to Robert Cray. Dubai: Carlton Books. p. 13. ISBN   1-85868-255-X.
  4. Robert Palmer (1981). Deep Blues . Penguin Books. p.  104. ISBN   978-0-14-006223-6.
  5. 1 2 3 Russell, Tony (1997). The Blues: From Robert Johnson to Robert Cray. Dubai: Carlton Books. p. 139. ISBN   1-85868-255-X.
  6. O'Neal, Jim (1908-04-08). "Tommy McClennan | Biography". AllMusic . Retrieved 2015-08-30.
  7. Archived June 23, 2006, at the Wayback Machine
  8. "Bob Dylan - Bob Dylan | Songs, Reviews, Credits | AllMusic". AllMusic . Retrieved 8 March 2021.