Notoriously difficult to locate, the grave of of Mississippi John Hurt, a talented and somewhat obscure bluesman until he rose to national prominence during the 1960s, sits in the middle of a forest, beckoning blues fans to make a pilgrimage.
Born at the tail end of the 19th century in Teoc, Miss., Mississippi John Hurt toiled as a farmer and laborer for much of his life. He taught himself to play guitar at a young age and eventually recorded a few albums, which sold well. Despite his commercial success, Hurt remained close to home, often working as a musician for parties and fish fries. With the Great Depression came a decline in album sales and Hurt faded into obscurity. The ’60s brought a renewed interest in the blues, and blues researchers began a search for Hurt. With a 35-year-old record as their only clue, they went down to the Mississippi Delta and found the bluesman in Avalon, which he called his hometown in the song “Avalon Blues.”
Hurt enjoyed great popularity in the 1960s, touring, recording, and playing on television. His success, however, was short-lived. He died in 1966. His body was returned to a hilltop cemetery in his lifelong home, Avalon.
Know Before You Go
Take MS HWY 7 toward Greenwood. Turn right onto Avalon Road and drive up a gravel road up the hill.