Influential jazz guitar pioneer Eddie Lang (born: Salvatore Massaro) (1902-1932) adapted the alias Blind Willie Dunn, for a series of recordings, that he made as a member of the Gin Bottle Four, in 1928 and 1929. An all-star group, that included blues guitarist Lonnie Johnson, cornet player King Oliver and, occasionally, Hoagy Carmichael, on percussion and vocals, the Gin Bottle Four served as one of the first inter-racial jazz bands to record.
First using the pseudonym for a recording session, with pianist Frank Signorelli and chimes player Justin Ring, in 1928, Lang revived the Blind Willie Dunn persona the following year, cutting such classic tunes as "Blue Guitars", "A Handful Of Riffs", "Midnight Call Blues", "Jet Black Blues" and "Hot Fingers".
The three recording sessions with the Gin Bottle Four represented only a small slice of South Philadelphia-born Lang's brief, but prolific, career. It's estimated that he worked with more than four hundred musicians before dying prematurely, after losing too much blood following a routine tonsillectomy, at the age of thirty. In addition to playing on groundbreaking recordings with jazz violinist Joe Venuti, a childhood friend, he rarely passed up an invitation to play. Seemingly color-blind, he worked with white musicians, including Cliff "Ukulele Ike" Edward, Ruth Ettig, Paul Whiteman, Bix Beiderbecke, Benny Goodman and Bing Crosby, as well as with such African-American artists as Louis Armstrong, Bessie Smith, Clarence Williams, Victoria Spivey and Ray Charles.
The legacy of Blind Willie Dunn continues to be celebrated by Detroit-based vocalist/guitarist Joe Serrapere and his band, the Willie Dunns.