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 very young. 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. Brownsville celebrates the Blues pioneer each year on the 4th Saturday of January.
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