Although he was mostly an obscurity during his life, in the last few years, beginning with an appearance on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson in 1964, Mississippi John Hurt became a star of the folk and blues scenes.
He had originally recorded back in the Twenties, but nothing much came of it, and by the time the Great Dperession killed Okeh (his label), he was back in Avalon, Mississippi, sharecropping. He would have stayed there if not for the efforts of musicologist Tom Hoskins, who tracked him down and convinced him to give it another go, with much better results.
But Hurt was already in his seventies by then, and his life had been marked by poverty and suffering. He died of a heart attack in 1966, although not before recording a few more sessions.
Did You Hear John Hurt – Tom Paxton