T-Model Ford, a raw-sounding, mesmerizing guitarist and singer who was among the last of the old-time Delta bluesmen — and whose career was all the more noteworthy for his not having picked up a guitar until he was almost 60 — died on Tuesday at his home in Greenville, Miss.
His exact age was shrouded in the smoky legend that often attends the blues, but he was almost certainly in his early 90s.
Once described by the head of that label as “the friendliest fun-loving psychopath you’ll ever meet” (Mr. Ford spoke openly, and amiably, of having killed at least one man), he began his musical life in the 1980s in Mississippi juke joints.
Mr. Ford did not release his first record, “Pee-Wee Get My Gun, ” until 1997, when he was well into his 70s.
Afterward, he performed to great acclaim across the country — appearing at the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Tex., and at various New York City clubs — and around the world. He was featured in “You See Me Laughin’, ” a 2002 documentary about the blues.
Mr. Ford toured energetically until last year, when he suffered a stroke. He owed his crackling longevity and lust for life, he said (he had 6 wives and at least 26 children), to a simple three-part regimen.
“Jack Daniel’s, the women and the Lord been keeping me here, ” he told The Chicago Sun-Times in 2003. In old age, however, on doctor’s orders, he reduced his involvement with the first of these to some extent.
Mr. Ford was a completely self-taught musician, and the blues that sprang from him was stark, harsh and haunting even by the standards of the genre.
Because he did not know the proper way to tune a guitar, the eccentric tunings he devised lent his music a strange, soulful tonality — he played, as fellow musicians sometimes described it, “in the key of T.”
If Mr. Ford exuded the aura of a backwoods bluesman from Central Casting, he came by it more or less honestly, for his personal narrative seemed to rival that of any blues song:
There was the childhood spent working the fields under the brutal Mississippi sun.
There was his first wife, whom he married when he was a teenager, and who left, Mr. Ford said, to run off with his father.
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