Biography All Music Guide
All Music Guide:
One of the last real Piedmont blues guitarists, Cootie Stark was born as James Miller on December 27, 1927, in Abbeville, SC. He spent his childhood around Anderson County, receiving his first guitar when he was 14 years old. While still a teenager, Stark moved to nearby Greenville, SC, where, unable to find work because of extremely poor eyesight (he eventually went legally blind), he began singing and playing guitar on the street corners in the late '30s, learning the busking trade (and a large repertoire of songs) from the likes of Baby Tate, Pink Anderson, and Peg Leg Sam, soon acquiring the nickname "Sugar Man." He wasn't discovered by the outside world until he was in his seventies, when Music Maker Foundation founder Tim Duffy happened to hear Stark perform some Fats Domino songs. Music Maker released his first album, Sugar Man, in 1999, and a second release, Raw Sugar, which featured accompaniment by Taj Mahal, followed in 2003.