Tommy McClennan

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Tommy McClennan
Born (1905-01-04)January 4, 1905
Durant, Mississippi, United States
Died May 9, 1961(1961-05-09) (aged 56)
Chicago, Illinois, United States
Genres Delta blues, country blues, blues
Instruments Guitar
Years active 1939–1942
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[edit]

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. His voice is heard in the background on Petway's recording of "Boogie Woogie Woman" (1942).[4] McClennan's singles in this period included "Bottle It Up and Go", "New Highway No. 51", "Shake 'Em on Down", and "Whiskey Head Woman".[4]

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).[5] 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][6]


"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"[4]

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 "Highway 51" on his self-titled debut album in 1962.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "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. ^ a b c Russell, Tony (1997). The Blues: From Robert Johnson to Robert Cray. Dubai: Carlton Books. p. 139. ISBN 1-85868-255-X. 
  5. ^ O'Neal, Jim (1908-04-08). "Tommy McClennan | Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved 2015-08-30. 
  6. ^ [1] Archived June 23, 2006, at the Wayback Machine.

External links[edit]