Lyrics & Knowledge Personal Pages Record Shop Auction Links Radio & Media Kids Membership Help
The Mudcat Cafemuddy

Post to this Thread - Sort Descending - Printer Friendly - Home


Jesse Fuller - Facts & Myths

DigiTrad:
EVERYBODY WORKS AT MY HOUSE BUT MY OLD MAN
SAN FRANCISCO BAY BLUES


Related threads:
Jesse Fuller - Footdoodler (19)
Help: Jesse Fuller's Washboard Contraption (9)
who has made a fotdella? (21)
Happy Birthday Jesse Fuller (12)


Tomber9 15 Jun 01 - 12:31 AM
Charley Noble 15 Jun 01 - 04:44 PM
toadfrog 15 Jun 01 - 11:50 PM
Tomber9 16 Jun 01 - 01:49 PM
toadfrog 17 Jun 01 - 01:01 AM
DHonemanband 06 Oct 09 - 01:54 AM
Fred McCormick 06 Oct 09 - 04:30 AM
GUEST,Hootenanny 06 Oct 09 - 08:42 AM
Fred McCormick 06 Oct 09 - 08:58 AM
alanabit 06 Oct 09 - 02:46 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 06 Oct 09 - 03:18 PM
GUEST,TJ in San Diego 06 Oct 09 - 07:11 PM
DHonemanband 18 Oct 09 - 07:00 PM
GUEST,lompocan 18 Oct 09 - 08:38 PM
lompocan 19 Oct 09 - 12:37 PM
Mark Ross 19 Oct 09 - 12:57 PM
GUEST,Jeff Burnige 06 Jul 10 - 07:29 PM
Joe Offer 06 Jul 10 - 07:37 PM
Mary Katherine 06 Jul 10 - 08:11 PM
Charley Noble 06 Jul 10 - 08:25 PM
DHonemanband 22 Nov 10 - 10:03 PM
Charley Noble 23 Nov 10 - 10:08 PM
DHonemanband 23 Nov 10 - 11:04 PM
GUEST,Hootenanny 24 Nov 10 - 06:49 AM
Charley Noble 24 Nov 10 - 08:48 AM
DHonemanband 24 Nov 10 - 06:23 PM
GUEST,Hootenanny 25 Nov 10 - 07:59 AM
DHonemanband 25 Nov 10 - 05:23 PM
GUEST,Hootenanny 25 Nov 10 - 06:48 PM
GUEST,Seth from Olympia 26 Nov 10 - 02:09 AM
GUEST,Alex Cherian 14 Dec 10 - 03:06 PM
Mark Ross 14 Dec 10 - 06:31 PM
Share Thread
more
Lyrics & Knowledge Search [Advanced]
DT  Forum
Sort (Forum) by:relevance date
DT Lyrics:



Subject: 'JESSE FULLER' Facts & Myths
From: Tomber9
Date: 15 Jun 01 - 12:31 AM

I'm am new here, & a lover of train & railroad songs. Jesse Fuller has become an obession with me over the past 8 months or so, since I first heard a few of his songs. I have noticed in some of the "Jesse" Threads & Post here, as well as info on the web, that there is a lot of conflicting & misinformation about him. Such as: some of his train songs being about drugs; He was an Engineer; a misbelief of his influence on many Folk, Blues, & Rock musicians, on this side of the pond & also in the UK & beyond. I am trying to get together as much factual info on Jesse as I can, & create a Jesse Fuller information & Fan appreciation site on the web. Watching Jesse on The Elizabeth Cotton & Jesse Fuller video, I am amazed at how little movement he makes for all the sound that comes out of him & his instruments. By the way, his Fodella or Fotdella, was supposed to go to "The Oakland Museum of California". Whether it actually did, I haven't found out as yet. A Documentary was filmed of his last public concert on May 7, 1971 in Crowell Hall at the Oakland Museum of California. The film is supposed to be at The San Francisco State University Communication Department. I have not got in contact with them yet, as to if a copy may be available.

If anyone would like to contribute info & personal experiences about Jesse, feel free to do so. You can also email me at tberoney@xtdl.com

If you need cheering up, just pop in a Jesse Fuller CD & enjoy. If he doesn't make you smile, there is no hope for you. (in jest) but still true.

Tom


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: 'JESSE FULLER' Facts & Myths
From: Charley Noble
Date: 15 Jun 01 - 04:44 PM

Glad you're working on this. He was a fine and unique singer and songster.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: JESSE FULLER - Facts & Myths
From: toadfrog
Date: 15 Jun 01 - 11:50 PM

I knew a guy from college, who dropped out, came to the Bay Area, (SF or Oakland, I forget which) and sat at the feet of Jesse Fuller, who was then playing guitar at a shoeshine stand. He had someone make him an electric twelve string guitar, and set out to imitate Jesse Fuller's style. That was in or about 1960-1961, and the guy's name was Dan Persyco

About, maybe 15 years ago, I ran into Persyco at the Jewish folk music festival in Berkeley, and he showed me his business card. It said, "Dan, the Man, the One-Man Band," and he still was performing with the same set-up, and living in Fresno.

A few years after that, I heard him on NPR. He was doing the Christmas rush, playing Jingle Bells on the 12-string guitar at Union Square! So foranyone who is really gung ho on digging up Jesse Fuller lore, there is a potential source. I won't swear, a completely accurate one.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: JESSE FULLER - Facts & Myths
From: Tomber9
Date: 16 Jun 01 - 01:49 PM

Thanks toadfrog. I Will do some digging & searching on the web & phone & address info on him. Who knows, he just might show up. Was his appearance on NPR a locl event or national program? I may be able to dig up something from NPR.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: JESSE FULLER - Facts & Myths
From: toadfrog
Date: 17 Jun 01 - 01:01 AM

I have to assume the program was local, but I can't be sure. And on second thought, I think the correct spelling of his name is Persyko. "Persico" is Sicilian; this guy was originally a Polish Jew.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: JESSE FULLER - Facts & Myths
From: DHonemanband
Date: 06 Oct 09 - 01:54 AM

Dan Persyko (note spelling) lives on Galiano Island near me, in Victoria BC Canada. He isn't as active as a one man band but I'm in contact with him for my book on the subject. Looking for stories on Jesse Fuller and other OMBs for same book. Send to slimchance@shaw.ca Thanks!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: JESSE FULLER - Facts & Myths
From: Fred McCormick
Date: 06 Oct 09 - 04:30 AM

Apologies for the fact that my mind is a bit wayward this morning. However, I recently saw a BBC documentary which featured Valerie Wilmer, a well known jazz photographer, talking about Jesse.

Either Valerie or her mother put him up when he came over to England, but I remember her saying that he was quite a morose individual - not at all the happy go lucky character you'd expect from his songs.

Given his awful upbringing (I vaguely remember reading in a Sing Out article that somebody who was looking after him threw in a fire), that is probably not surprising.

I'll probably recall the name of the BBC programme when I've got a few more coffees inside me. In the meantime, the best of luck with your project.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: JESSE FULLER - Facts & Myths
From: GUEST,Hootenanny
Date: 06 Oct 09 - 08:42 AM

I know this is an old thread but one good source for stories on Jessie when he made his first English tour would be George Webb founder of one of the most important bands in the British Jazz Revival. George worked for Jazzshows in London and ran the 100 club and looked after Jessie from his arrival at Paddington Station until his departure a few weeks later.

George still lives just outside London.

Hoot

PS. With regard to Jessie's stay with Valerie Wilmer and her mother, Val covers this in her own book.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: JESSE FULLER - Facts & Myths
From: Fred McCormick
Date: 06 Oct 09 - 08:58 AM

By blinkin' heck. My mind must have been wayward this morning. I didn't notice the datestamps on any of the earlier threads.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: JESSE FULLER - Facts & Myths
From: alanabit
Date: 06 Oct 09 - 02:46 PM

The British one man band, Don Partridge, was also originally inspired by Jesse Fuller. He brought him over to do a concert at the time when he (Don) had a hit in the sixties. It was Jesse Fuller, who originally inspired Don to become a one man band at the time. When I saw Don back in the mid eighties, he was still singing "San Francisco Bay Blues". He certainly met the guy and knew a bit about him.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: JESSE FULLER - Facts & Myths
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 06 Oct 09 - 03:18 PM

I heard Jesse do a concert in NYC in the early 60's and always loved his stuff. I still do the Monkey & the Engineer. No personal stories to pass along, unfortunately.

Jerry


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: JESSE FULLER - Facts & Myths
From: GUEST,TJ in San Diego
Date: 06 Oct 09 - 07:11 PM

In the late 1950's and early '60's, a man named Dave Barber operated a coffee house in Fresno, CA, called "The Renaissance." Typical of the day, it had a lot of us local kids doing "open mike" or "open stage" stuff (since the small venue basically made amplification unnecessary). One night, circa 1960, Dave brought Jesse "Lone Cat" fuller in for an evening. There was no cover charge. Jesse and his one-man-band act was amazing to see. He hung out and shared songs and demonstrated his "fodella."

He was a very engaging guy and wanted to hear some of us play between sets. Of course he did "San Francisco Bay Blues," which was his anthem and his best known piece. After nearly 50 years, it's hard to recall much of the rest of his repertoire, but he kept us going all night. Sadly, I left for military service shortly afterward and I never saw him perform again. I count that evening among my musical blessings.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Jesse Fuller - Facts & Myths
From: DHonemanband
Date: 18 Oct 09 - 07:00 PM

Thanks for the recent postings! I'll keep checking. I'm incorporating the info I gain here into the book! Cheers.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Jesse Fuller - Facts & Myths
From: GUEST,lompocan
Date: 18 Oct 09 - 08:38 PM

A few years back Acoustic Guitar magazine had an article on Jesse Fuller. He was also an actor and spent a lot of time in Hollywood.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Jesse Fuller - Facts & Myths
From: lompocan
Date: 19 Oct 09 - 12:37 PM

The July 1997 issue of Acoustic Guitar has the article on Jesse Fuller, written by Elijah Wald (one of my favorite music writers).


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Jesse Fuller - Facts & Myths
From: Mark Ross
Date: 19 Oct 09 - 12:57 PM

Lompocan, could you post the article here on the 'Cat?

Mark Ross


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Jesse Fuller - Facts & Myths
From: GUEST,Jeff Burnige
Date: 06 Jul 10 - 07:29 PM

I saw Jesse Fuller in 1966 perform in the pub by the Iron Bridge in Southall, London. I won a copy of the San Francisco Bay Blues album on Good Time Jazz label, and Jesse autographed it for me on the sleeve and inner sleeve. I still have that treasured album. I looked him up in Oakland in 1969, but he wasn't home.
Jeff Burnige
burnige@blueyonder.co.uk


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Jesse Fuller - Facts & Myths
From: Joe Offer
Date: 06 Jul 10 - 07:37 PM

The Jesse Fuller article used to be at http://www.elijahwald.com/archcont.html - but it's no longer there. I had to track it down at the Wayback Machine, www.archive.org

JESSE FULLER PROFILE (written for Acoustic Guitar in 1997)
by Elijah Wald

Jesse Fuller was unique, and he worked hard at keeping it that way. One of America's great musical nonconformists, he played a big, 12-string guitar, chugging harmonica, raucous kazoo, cymbal, washboard and fotdella, and called himself the "Lone Cat," a romping one-man band. A singer, musician, composer, inventor and jack of all trades, he was the Bay Area's greatest contribution to the folk-blues revival, but his musical career reached a long way back before "San Francisco Bay," the song that catapulted him to national prominence.

Fuller was born in Jonesboro, Georgia, in 1896. He never knew his father and lost his mother when he was eight. Adopted by a local family, he was abused and neglected, and started working at an early age, breaking rocks in a quarry, toiling in a corn mill, carrying water for a railroad grading crew, and riding freight trains from job to job. At age ten, he also started playing guitar. As he later recalled, his first teacher was a woman who hung out around the railroad gang and went by the name of Big Estelle. "I'd go up there and watch her play and she was terrific," he remembered. "She didn't teach me all 'bout the guitar, just the chords, and I learned the rest myself."

As soon as he felt old enough to make it on his own, Fuller headed out of the deep South, looking for a better life. "Hell, I don't like the South at all," he told an interviewer in the 1960s. "If I were in the South now, . . . I'd be dead. I'm too color blind. Someone pushes me, I'll fight him, I don't care who he is." He first headed for Cincinatti, then got a job with a circus and began moving west. By the 1920s, he was in Hollywood, where he set up a shoe shine stand and, in the course of business, made the acquaintance of the movie star Douglas Fairbanks. Fairbanks set him up with a hot dog stand and gave him a Model T Ford, which Fuller "souped up like a race car." Fairbanks would sometimes hire Fuller to play at his private parties, and helped him get work as a movie extra, using him in "The Thief of Bagdad" among other pictures. As if all of that was not enough, Fuller developed still another sideline, carving amazingly lifelike wooden snakes, and worked his way through the depression selling them for a dollar apiece.

In 1929, Fuller moved up to Oakland, where he would live for the rest of his life. Once again, he worked a variety of jobs before making the decision to go into music as a full-time profession around 1950. At first, he tried to put a band together, but decided it was too much of a hassle. As he would later explain, "[The musicians] were all too busy--running around, drinking and gambling." Instead, he began rigging up ways to be his own accompanist. He put together a rack that could hold a harmonica, a kazoo and a microphone, and invented the fotdella, a six-string bass with a modified piano action that drove felt hammers against the strings. The fotdella, which he played with his shoeless right foot, was a visual novelty and gave his music a solid bottom, and he completed the rhythm section by using his left foot to keep time with either a sock cymbal or another homemade contraption that scraped a rubber arm across a washboard.

Thus was born the "King of the blues one-man bands." Fuller became a regular street performer around the Bay Area. The folk revival had not yet hit, but the West Coast was a hotbed for New Orleans jazz revivalists, and the trad fans were entranced by his music. He recorded his first album, a ten-inch LP called Working on the Railroad with Jesse Fuller, in the early '50s, and spent the rest of the decade bouncing around a variety of small, jazz-oriented labels.

The music Fuller played ranged from old work songs, hymns and spirituals to blues, ragtime and pop tunes. He was what blues fans call a "songster," a performer who could play and sing anything the audience wanted to hear. Whatever the style, though, once Fuller had rearranged it for his battery of instruments it bore his own unmistakeable stamp. Folklorists have sometimes tried to sort out the songs he wrote from those that were adapted from previous sources, but that is beside the point. Whether singing a folk ballad like "John Henry" or a pop chestnut like "Everybody Works But Father," he sounded only like Jesse Fuller.

Adept as he was at reshaping older material, Fuller always prided himself on his abilities as a writer. Al Young, the poet and novelist, who knew Fuller in the early '60s, recalls going over to see him at his sister's house in Oakland, and being shown his basement studio. "He went there every morning, and spent three hours writing his tunes," Young says. "He'd set up his fotdella and all of his stuff and sit there and compose with a tape recorder, and get his stuff down. Everybody thinks that he's a guy who just kind of casually knocked these things out, but he listened to everybody, he was very aware that the folk movement was his chance to be heard, and he would go down there every day and write. "

While the fotdella might be what stopped crowds on the street, what made Fuller a national figure was his songwriting, especially his masterpiece and theme song, "San Francisco Bay Blues." He recorded the song for every label that signed him, and soon it was covered by a plethora of young folkies, becoming a ubiquitous standard. With its success, Fuller took to the road, touring in a big Nash station wagon that also served him as a makeshift hotel, and playing coffeehouses, colleges and folk festivals across the country, then taking ship for a European tour during which, in his words, he "got more people than the Rolling Stones."

That choice of comparison says a lot about him. Unlike most of the older bluesmen who appeared on the folk circuit in the 1960s, Fuller was at home in the present, in tune with the contemporary scene and fully in charge of his life, music, and business. He knew what he was doing, and knew he was good at it, and it did not surprise him when the young, white folksingers started coming around to admire and learn from him. And learn they did. Bob Dylan's harmonica work shows more of Fuller's influence than anyone else's, and he paid tribute by recording Fuller's "You're No Good" on his first album. Mark Spoelstra used to drop by for guitar lessons. As for all the people who sang "San Francisco Bay," from Jack Elliott on down, there are simply too many of them to count.

Fuller died in 1976, but he left behind a lot of good music and good memories. Friends still tell stories about his quirky self-reliance, his insistence on driving everywhere, even to the point of refusing to go to Europe unless he could drive his car onto the boat and make the trip in his usual style, and the ingenuity with which he not only invented a slew of instruments but wired all of them so that he could plug the entire mass into a house p.a. system and wail away like a rock band. He was a true original and, two decades after his death, his music is still as exuberant and entertaining as anything on record.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Jesse Fuller - Facts & Myths
From: Mary Katherine
Date: 06 Jul 10 - 08:11 PM

Jesse's fotdella was donated by his family to the Smithsonian, where it still is. Although not on permanent display, it is in their permanent collection, and can be seen by appointment.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Jesse Fuller - Facts & Myths
From: Charley Noble
Date: 06 Jul 10 - 08:25 PM

I was given a 10" recording of Jesse Fuller back in the early 1960's by my grandfather recorded on the Washington label, I believe. I always wondered who had given this incredible recording to my grandfather. It was the first time I got to hear San Francisco Blues. Unfortunately I never got to hear him perform live.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Jesse Fuller - Facts & Myths
From: DHonemanband
Date: 22 Nov 10 - 10:03 PM

Still desperately looking for photos of Jesse. I don't have a lot of money but can pay something.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Jesse Fuller - Facts & Myths
From: Charley Noble
Date: 23 Nov 10 - 10:08 PM

DHonemanband-

Here's a link to a fan website which might be helpful: click here for PIXS!

Hope this is helpful.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Jesse Fuller - Facts & Myths
From: DHonemanband
Date: 23 Nov 10 - 11:04 PM

Thanks Charley. Unfortunately Stefan Wirz, while doing us all great service with his discographies (and I have availed myself of his work) does not own the rights to any of the photos. I need to contact the people who hold the copyrights for the photos (often but not always the person who took the shot). Good try though and thanks!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Jesse Fuller - Facts & Myths
From: GUEST,Hootenanny
Date: 24 Nov 10 - 06:49 AM

Here is one source in the UK but you would need to pay the going commercial rate. I feel sure that they have shots of Jesse in London.
I remember seeing a couple at least when I was researching photographs for a book.

www.sylviapitcherphotos.com


Hoot.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Jesse Fuller - Facts & Myths
From: Charley Noble
Date: 24 Nov 10 - 08:48 AM

DHonemanband-

Identifying who actually holds the photo copyrights can be a process frustrating but it is the right thing to do. I know I prefer to pay royalties (and to the right person!) if my use is clearly commercial. What is your purpose?

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Jesse Fuller - Facts & Myths
From: DHonemanband
Date: 24 Nov 10 - 06:23 PM

My purpose is a book, that won't likely make a profit (certainly not if I charged myself an hourly rate for time spent). I hope to recoup my investment over time. I can't say it isn't commercial if I'm selling it, can I? So I'd have to call it a (bad) commercial project. I didn't set out to make money from this, my intent was to try and heighten awareness of the genre, pay tribute to the pioneers and raise my own profile a bit, in the process.

I checked Hoot's link thoroughly and lots of great photos there but no Jesse Fuller (or any other OMBs - closest I saw were Doc Watson and John Lee Hooker - both too on the periphery to pay for photos). Thanks though, I appreciate every lead.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Jesse Fuller - Facts & Myths
From: GUEST,Hootenanny
Date: 25 Nov 10 - 07:59 AM

That Website shows only a sampling from the library. There are a mass of blues photographs (plus jazz,country,bluegrass,old timey etc)held including Jesse Fuller and Doctor Ross I can tell you that for certain having been involved with research for blues material myself.

If you are serious about publishing a book and wish to include photographs then you must expect to pay for them. I guess that you won't be giving the book away for free. Photographers have a living to make too.

Hoot


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Jesse Fuller - Facts & Myths
From: DHonemanband
Date: 25 Nov 10 - 05:23 PM

Thanks Hoot. Can you explain how I can get to these photos? I just didn't see any other links or whatever and I went through all of the photos shown.

As to paying for photos, I understand about people making a living and I realize I have undertaken a large and potentially expensive project. I just hope to do the best I can on a limited budget. I make my living as a busking one man band and while I do have some money earmarked for the project, I have to be sensible about it too. I do expect to pay for some photos but I hope to keep the budget down too.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Jesse Fuller - Facts & Myths
From: GUEST,Hootenanny
Date: 25 Nov 10 - 06:48 PM

There is a menu at the left of the front page regarding contacting the library but to make it easier here is the e-mail address;

spphotolibrary@aol.com

I am sure they can help you.

Hoot


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Jesse Fuller - Facts & Myths
From: GUEST,Seth from Olympia
Date: 26 Nov 10 - 02:09 AM

Y was at that Oakland Museum concert in 1971- at first it seemed to be an odd sort of venue, but later I realized that he was just himself whever he played/ Glad I got see see him and say a few words to him....


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: Jesse Fuller documentary (1960s)
From: GUEST,Alex Cherian
Date: 14 Dec 10 - 03:06 PM

I've just found a 16mm color documentary film made by KRON-TV about Jesse Fuller in San Francisco, from the 1960s. We're going to restore and make it available online from our website (hopefully in a month or so):

library.sfsu.edu/sfbatv

I hope this may be of interest.
Regards

Alex Cherian, Film Archivist
SF Bay Area TV Archive
acherian@sfsu.edu


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Jesse Fuller - Facts & Myths
From: Mark Ross
Date: 14 Dec 10 - 06:31 PM

I met Jesse when I was living in Berserkeley in '70 & '71. I had gone down to Oakland to find him, but couldn't. Turned out he was in the hospital about 6 bocks from where I lived. I visited him there, told him that I was a friend of Dave Van Ronk's, and he seemed real glad to see me. While I was there, his wife came to visit, and Jesse demanded to know why she hadn't brought his guitar. She replied that he didn't need it in the hospital. He got mad, and said that if he died there I could have the instrument. Fortunately, he recovered from the operation. I didn't need an electric 12 string, which is what he was playing at the time. Anyone know what happened to his Tonk Bros. 12?

Mark Ross


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate
  Share Thread:
More...

Reply to Thread
Subject:  Help
From:
Preview   Automatic Linebreaks   Make a link ("blue clicky")


Mudcat time: 19 February 10:58 AM EST

[ Home ]

All original material is copyright © 1998 by the Mudcat Café Music Foundation, Inc. All photos, music, images, etc. are copyright © by their rightful owners. Every effort is taken to attribute appropriate copyright to images, content, music, etc. We are not a copyright resource.