Associated Press has reported that James Lewis Carter ‘T-Model’ Ford, a hard-living blues singer who taught himself to play guitar when he was 58 years old and his fifth wife left him, died Tuesday at his home in Greenville, Mississippi.
Apparently Ford’s age was uncertain. AP reports that County Coroner Methel Johnson said the family told her Ford was born in 1924 and had already had his birthday this year, which would have made him 89. But a blues expert and longtime friend Roger Stolle, said Ford didn’t remember what year he was born and claimed to be 93.
Johnson told the Associated Press that Ford had been under hospice care and died of respiratory failure shortly after 10 a.m. Tuesday. She said he was at home with several relatives, including his wife, Estella Ford.
Stolle, who owns the Clarksdale, Miss., record store Cat Head Delta Blues & Folk Art, accompanied Ford and other bluesmen when they toured Europe in 2009. He also traveled with Ford to gigs in New York.
In his younger days Ford served two years of a 10-year prison sentence for killing a man in self-defense. He had six wives and 26 children, Stolle said. When Ford’s fifth wife left him, she gave him a guitar as a parting gift.
Ford recorded seven albums with three labels, including three albums with Fat Possum Records in Oxford, Miss.