HEY BLUES FANS – Lets wish happy birthday to blues guitarist and singer Willie Trice born this day in 1908. He remained loyal to his native North Carolina and its regional blues style, often referred to as Piedmont blues, East Coast blues, or more generally country blues.
Trice was born in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, probably in 1908; some sources state 1910 or 1911. The family had moved to Raleigh by 1920.
Both of Trice’s parents played music—his mother played the organ at church functions, and his father was a music teacher—but it was mainly his uncle who taught Willie the rudiments of blues guitar playing. His biggest influence was Reverend Gary Davis. Trice formed a duo with his younger brother Richard in the 1930s and they befriended Blind Boy Fuller in the 1933, and it was this relationship that led them to enter a recording studio.
In July 1937, Trice recorded two sides with his brother playing second guitar, “Come On in Here Mama” and “Let Her Go God Bless Her”. Without any commercial success ensuing, Trice did not record again until the 1970s. However, he was well known for playing locally in the 1930s and 1940s in North Carolina. In the late 1960s, both of his legs were amputated below the knee, as a result of the effects of diabetes.
In 1971, he recorded two songs he wrote, “Three Little Kittens Rag” and “One Dime Blues”, which were released as a single the following year. Between 1971 and December 1973, he recorded enough songs (several of which he wrote himself), for an album, Blue and Rag’d, released in 1975. It was re-released on CD twenty years later.
Trice lived his whole life in the same area, continuing to play music as time and finances allowed.
Trice died at his home in Durham, North Carolina, in December 1976, at the age of 68. His brother Richard, who died in 2000, was buried next to him.