Rufus Payne was buried in Lincoln Cemetery located in Montgomery, Alabama. This is the marker placed near his final resting place.
|Birth name||Rufus Payne|
|Also known as||Tee Tot|
|Origin||Montgomery, Alabama, United States|
|Died||March 17, 1939
|Genres||Country, blues, gospel|
|Associated acts||Hank Williams|
Key details of Payne's life are a mystery, his date of birth, mother and father are listed on his death certificate as "Unknown". According to Alabama historian Alice Harp, Payne was born around 1884 on the Payne Plantation in Sandy Ridge, Lowndes County, Alabama.
Career and influence
Some say he played the blues alone, others say that he led a little combo that played pop songs and hokum numbers and was a street musician.
Tee Tot is best known for being a mentor to Hank Williams, Sr.. His influence in exposing Williams to blues and other African American influences helped Williams successfully fuse hillbilly, folk and blues into his own unique style, which in turn expanded and exposed both white and black audiences to the differing sounds.
Aside from Williams' own genius, all of the credit for the success of Williams' career has been credited to Tee Tot, who remained largely unknown outside of southern Alabama in his lifetime, but has now been elevated to iconic status by some due to his mentorship of Williams. "As unfashionable as it was to acknowledge the influence of black musicians, Hank later went out of his way to give Payne full credit." Talking to jazz journalist Ralph J. Gleason the following year, he said, "I learned to play the guitar from an old colored man. ...I'd give him 15 cents, or whatever I could get a hold of for the lesson." Hank acknowledged Payne again during his Greenville Homecoming and apparently searched for him, but Payne had died." Hank's mother Lilly says she fed Payne in exchange for Williams' lessons, but memories of him are otherwise vague.
Hank's sister Irene said that Payne once came to Lilly's house and told her that Hank was going to get both of them into trouble by following him around, which seems to imply that Hank was quite determined in his pursuit. "More than anything," said Walter McNeil, "I think Tee Tot helped Hank get beyond his shyness, and helped him project himself a little, little more, 'cause Hank was a shy person really. He had to lose that somehow, and I think Tee Tot was a big help to him in doing that."  In 1951, Williams told the Montgomery Advertiser that Payne had given him “all the music training I ever had…” 
Payne died at a charity hospital in Montgomery, Alabama on March 17, 1939. Payne's age upon his death was unknown but it was thought at the time that he was around the age of 55 when he died. Payne is buried at Lincoln Cemetery in Montgomery. His gravesite is unknown, but a memorial stands near the entrance to the cemetery.