One of the last great rural blues stylists in the San Francisco/Oakland area, K.C. Douglas produced a blues classic when he recorded "Mercury Boogie" in 1949. The tune, which paid homage to the American automobile, was later renamed "Mercury Blues" and covered by Steve Miller and David Lindley.
Born and raised on a family farm near Sharon, MS, Douglas was deeply influenced by the 1920s recordings of Delta bluesman Tommy Johnson. Although he left home in 1934 to work outside of music in the Mississippi towns of Grenada and Carthage, he launched his music career after meeting Johnson two years later. After Douglas impressed Johnson with his baritone vocals and skillful guitar playing, the two musicians began performing together on street corners and parties.
Relocating to Vallejo, CA, in 1945, Douglas found employment in the naval shipyards. Within a couple of years, he gravitated to the San Francisco/Oakland blues scene, forming a band, the Lumberjacks, in 1947. His first recordings were issued on the Oakland-based Downtown label in 1948.
In 1949, he wrote Mercury Boogie, whilst working in a garage in Oakland, California. At the same time, he taught guitar to the grandson of the garage owner, 8 year old Steve Wold (now better known as Seasick Steve).
Although he continued to perform at dances and small clubs, occasionally with Jesse Fuller, throughout the 1950s and '60s, Douglas supplemented his meager income from music with a variety of jobs. He worked for the public works department in Berkeley from 1963 until the mid-'70s.
After performing at the Berkeley Blues Festival in 1970, he formed a quartet and became a frequent performer at coffeehouses, clubs, and bars in the East Bay/Modesto/Stockton area and recorded several tracks for the Arhoolie label between 1973 and 1974.