From local legend to touring the globe
Born in 1926 in nearby Madison County, Neal Pattman grew up learning to play harmonica from his father, with inspiration from Sonny Terry. One of fourteen children, Pattman worked on the family farm throughout his childhood. At age seven he lost his arm in a wagon accident, which would eventually earn him the nickname, “the one-armed harmonica virtuoso.“ Getting a job with his injury proved difficult early in his adulthood, so he began playing the harp and harmonica to earn money.
Pattman later got a job in the Georgia Center kitchen. Pattman became a local legend as time went on, playing in Athens nightclubs, churches, and festivals. In 1989, he emerged onto the world stage when he performed at Lincoln Center. Offers to tour globally came soon after. Pattman collaborated with numerous other blues artists, including Timothy Duffy, Cootie Stark, and Dave Peabody.
He released two albums in the 1990s before succumbing to cancer in 2005.