Tommy McClennan (January 4, 1905[1] – May 9, 1961) was an American Delta blues singer and guitarist.[2]

Life and careerEdit

McClennan was born in DurantMississippiUnited States, 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 through 1942 and regularly played with his friend Robert Petway. His voice is heard in the background on Petway's recording of "Boogie Woogie Woman" (1942).[3] McClennan's singles in this period included "Bottle It Up and Go", "New Highway No.51", "Shake 'Em on Down", and "Whiskey Head Woman".[3]

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).[4] McClennan's "I'm A Guitar King" was included on the 1959 collection issued by Folkways RecordsThe Country Blues.

McClennan died of bronchopneumonia in ChicagoIllinois on May 9, 1961.[5][6]


"He had a different style of playing a guitar", Big Bill Broonzy remarked drily. "You just make the chords and change when you feel like changing"[3]

In John Fahey's "Screaming and Hollerin' the Blues" there is an interview conducted with Booker Miller, who was a contemporary of Charlie Patton, he makes mention of someone who is most likely Tommy McClennan, though he does 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-named debut album in 1962.

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