Hillbilly-Music.comThe People. The Music. The History.
About The Artist
Blind Jack Mathis was born in the town of Benton in Marshall County, Kentucky. His full name was Jack Copeland Mathis. Jack's family moved to Texas around 1910 so he could attend a Texas state school for the Blind in Austin. He became known as "The Blind Troubadour" by his classmates, a name which became associated with him for many years.
Jack was born with what was termed in Kentucky back then as "sore Eyes". That meant his vision was not good enough to attend public school.
When he was in his twenties, he went to a doctor in Dallas which he had heard about, hoping to regain his sight. But instead as fate would have it, he totally lost his vision. The treatment caused a spot on the optic nerve and there was nothing that could be done to help his vision after that.
During his early years Jack learned to play the guitar. In the 1940's, a blind friend of his from his school days taught him to play the accordion.
Among the notable achievements in his career was the fact that he was the first artist to record the legendary tune, "Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain" in 1928 or 1929. On the other side of that record was his version of "Silver Haired Daddy of Mine". His daughter recalls it was on the Columbia, RCA Victor or Decca record labels. She notes that Jack's older brother had a copy of the record, but it was destroyed when his house burned down in the 1980's.
Jack did record for all of the mentioned labels.
For some time, Jack was commuting between Houston and Dallas. He had a weekly program on radio station KPRC in Houston, where he was voted "Top Male Vocalist of the Year, in Houston". He also made weekly personal appearances on radio station WFAA in Dallas. He appeared with "The Light Crust Dough Boys" in Dallas. And even on "The Saddle Mountain Roundup" which aired out of Tulsa, Oklahoma.
But Jack found that traveling weekly between Houston and Dallas during the depression and being totally blind was a burdensome combination and eventually proved to be too much for him, so he walked away from the recording business (where he had a life-time recording contract}, and became a "Blind Street Singer".Some of his other recordings were: "Those Dark Eyes", "Your Love and Mine", "Are You Tired of me Darling?", Annie Dear, I'm Called away", "When the Roses come again", all recorded on Victor on 18 October 1929, "Your Mother still Prays for You" and "Charming Bessie Lee" on Columbia. I have managed to get a few of his records, and got some information on his recordings, from The Library of Congress. He also recorded with other artist.
Blind Jack Mathis passed away in April 1972 in Houston, Texas and is buried at the Hill of Rest Cemetery in Baytown, Texas, where he and his wife resided.
He always told his daughter, "If you can't say something good about a person, then don't say any thing". He believed that you should never pass judgment on anyone if you haven't walked in their shoes.
His daughter Helen, now residing in Granbury, Texas, relates that she never knew or heard of him, speaking ill of anyone. In her opinion, he was the greatest father in the world.
Credits & Sources