Virtually nothing is known about Blind Blake‘s life. His real name, his birth year, his birth location, and the circumstances surrounding his death are all educated guesses and hearsay. Only one picture survives of Blind Blake. He recorded about 80 sides between 1926 and 1932, though some of “his” final sides are believed to be someone other than Blind Blake. Though his singing voice wasn’t as passionate as other blues singers, his guitar playing is inimitable. He was advertised as “Blind Blake and his piano-sounding guitar” and is considered by most to be the king of ragtime guitar. He was able to emulate counterpoint ragtime, including full chords and melodies, on one six-string guitar. In my mind, he was one of the best guitarist ever. It is very difficult to believe that some of his songs are played on one guitar.
His heavy drinking, along with Paramount Records‘ bankruptcy, led to his career (and life) ending early. Some say he was killed by a streetcar during a drinking binge at age 40.
This article contains much more information (in the way of quotes and opinions of more recent performers) about Blind Blake and his influence.