O.C. Thomas

O.C. Thomas lived right across the street from me on N.E. 12th Ave. in Portland. His friends all knew him as Toe Joe. For nearly twenty years, he was the perfect neighbour. There was nothing he couldn't fix! He painted cars for fun! He played the blues on his Truetone guitar. "Low down and dirty -- that's the way we like it!" he explained. So I talked him into doing a nice half-hour TV show on Portland Cable Access, which was great. Later I talked him into actually recording his favourite song for the Portland Blues sampler called A Taste of the Blue Rose and that turned out great, too. Then in March of 2001, already pretty sick, he played his one and only public show to a packed house at the Aladdin Theatre in Portland. He died on October 4th, 2001.

O.C. was born on the 5th of July, 1925 in Shaw, Mississippi. He moved to Portland in the 1940s, working as a steeplejack, welder, construction worker, and so on.

O.C. Thomas as a young man

Read excerpt from John Foyston's Oregonian A & E article dated March 9th, 2001

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updated January 31st, 2003 by Jan Chciuk-Celt