Sleepy John Estes, an American bluesman, was also a legendary guitarist, songwriter and vocalist. Born in Ripley, Tennessee, Sleepy John's family moved to Brownsville, Tennessee, when he was 16. His father was a sharecropper who also played guitar, and Sleepy John took a cue from him. Due to an accident in a baseball game, Sleepy John lost sight in his right eye. At 19, he worked as a field hand and began to perform professionally at local parties and picnics. Estes made his debut as a recording artist in Memphis in 1929, later recording for Decca and Bluebirds labels. His style was a unique "crying" vocal one, and many of his songs were based on events in his own life or about people he knew from Brownsville, such as the local lawyer ("Lawyer Clark Blues"), local auto mechanic ("Vassie Williams Blues"), or a romantically inclined teenage girl ("Little Laura Blues"). In his music, he gave advice on agriculture ("Working Man Blues"), his lyrics combining keen observation with his talent for turning an effective phrase.
Tennessee Vacation eGuide
The 2014 eGuide gives you instant access to Tennessee’s irresistible attractions and destinations. Peruse venues online, then put in your order to get a free guide delivered to your doorstep.
Interstate 40 at Exit 56, Behind McDonald's; on the grounds of the West Tennessee Delta Heritage Center