The Daily Mirror

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Blind Tom dies

July 24, 2008 |  5:31 am

Dropcap_t_1938 he Daily Mirror overlooked the death of "Blind Tom" Wiggins, reported June 28, 1908. Blind Tom played the piano, but he was more than a pianist. He wrote music, but he was far more than a composer. Blind Tom was a sensation and a curiosity, a force of nature. I'm not even sure what term we would use for him today; perhaps "childlike genius" would be the most appropriate.

Whatever Blind Tom was, the piano was his connection to the world. According to accounts from the period, he could use the piano to reproduce any imaginable sound. He was apparently capable of mimicking performances of other pianists and seemingly never forgot anything -- at least about music. 

And as you might expect, living in the 19th century, being African American and developmentally disabled, Blind Tom did not have an easy life.

Blind Tom performed in Los Angeles and Santa Ana several times and drew large crowds, according to The Times.  Above left, a program from one of his concerts.

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Warning: The "N-word" appears several times in his obituary, below.