Yazoo City in Yazoo County, Mississippi — The American South (East South Central)
Tommy McClennan (c. 1905-1961) was one of America's most successful down-home blues recording artists during the period when he recorded 20 singles for the Bluebird label (1939-1942). Among McClennan's most notable numbers were "Bottle It Up and Go," "Cross Cut Saw," "Travelin' Highway Man," and "New Highway No. 51 Blues." McClennan, famed for his raucous, uninhibited singing and guitar playing, frequented this section of Yazoo City when he lived on the nearby J. F. Sligh plantation.
Tommy McClennan was born in Yazoo City in April of 1908, according to Big Bill Broonzy in his book "Big Bill Blues." However, McClennan's death certificate cites his birthplace as Durant (Holmes County) and the date as January 4, 1905. He is shown with his mother Cassie and his siblings in the 1910 census in Carroll County, and in 1920 the family was living on a plantation near Sidon in Leflore County. McClennan and his wife Ophelia were also enumerated in the 1930 Leflore County census, with his occupation listed as teamster. His name was variously spelled McClinton, McLindon, McCleland, and McClenan on these documents, although the McClennan spelling was used on all of his recordings. Other bluesmen remembered him from elsewhere in the Delta, including Bolivar County and Vance, but he was best
McClennan began his recording career in 1939 after white Chicago record producer Lester Melrose came looking for him. Broonzy recounted that Melrose had to make a hurried exit when his presence angered locals who thought he was recruiting laborers to leave Mississippi. In Chicago McClennan, “one of the most ferocious blues singers to get near a microphone,” in the words of Charters, unleashed his gruff, unbridled blues in the studio, sometimes further energizing the recordings with lively comments urging himself on. According to Broonzy, McClennan was chased from a Chicago party when revelers objected
Erected 2012 by the Mississippi Blues Commission. (Marker Number 148.)
Marker series. This marker is included in the Mississippi Blues Trail marker series.
Location. 32° 50.89′ N, 90° 24.927′ W. Marker is in Yazoo City, Mississippi, in Yazoo County. Marker is at the intersection of West Broadway Street (State Highway 149) and North Water Street, on the right when traveling west on West Broadway Street. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 294 West Broadway Street, Yazoo City MS 39194, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. Bank of Yazoo City (about 800 feet away, measured in a direct line); B.S. Ricks Memorial Library (approx. 0.2 miles away); Yazoo County Civil War Memorial (approx. 0.3 miles away); Bethel A.M.E. Church (approx. 0.3 miles away); The Oakes House (approx. 0.3 miles away); Yazoo Expedition (approx. 0.4 miles away); Town Creek (approx. half a mile away); St. Francis Mission School (approx. 0.6 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Yazoo City.
Also see . . .
1. Tommy McClennan Biography. (Submitted on September 18, 2014, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama.)
2. Mississippi Blues Trail. (Submitted on September 18, 2014, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama.)
Categories. • African Americans • Arts, Letters, Music • Entertainment •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on September 18, 2014, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama. This page has been viewed 217 times since then and 37 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on September 18, 2014, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama. • Bernard Fisher was the editor who published this page.