The Blues of one man band inventor Jesse Fuller
Jesse Fuller was much more than a magnificent one man band folk blues musician. He was a movie star inter alia in ´the Thief Of Bagdad (1924), he ran a concession stand in front of the Hollywood studios, he was a factory worker in Oakland and an inventor. His influence is huge, everyone in the Bay Area knew Jesse Fuller.
Fuller Born in Georgia, never knew his parents and was raised by a couple who treated him ‘worse than a dog’. At age nine he was able to leave the situation and worked as a cow gazer near Atlanta. He crossed around the country until he moved to Oakland in 1929. In Oakland he developed himself as a musician who could play the 12-string guitar, the harmonica, kazoo, percussion and a foot-operated string bass he had made out of a piano case called the “Fotdella”. In 1954 Arhoolie founder Chris Strachwitz recorded Jesse Fuller with an easy second hand tape machine at Fuller’s house. (The American Book of the Dead, p.126)
Bass instrument the `Fotdella’
For his one man band act Fuller needed a bass instrument. He already used the hi-hat and bass drum pedal and needed an accompaniment instrument. While lying in bed Fuller dreamed about constructing a foot-operated bass instrument. It ended up as a large upright box with a rounded top, Six bass strings were attached to the neck and stretched over the body.