Bud Garrett, traditional blues musician and marble maker, was born January 28, 1916, to John Tom Garrett and Adeline Hamilton Garrett in Free Hill, a small African American settlement in Clay County established by freed slaves prior to the Civil War. Garrett learned to play the guitar as a young man and accompanied older men in the community at local square dances. In later years Garrett performed as a solo artist on acoustic or electric guitar, and his repertoire included a mixture of traditional and popular song styles rooted in blues, country, minstrel shows and vaudeville, big band, and western swing, as well as original compositions. In 1962 Garrett recorded two original blues compositions–“I Done Quit Drinking” and “Do Remember Me”–which were released on the Excello label.
From the late 1970s until his death, Garrett received broader attention throughout the South on music tours and at festivals, performing his music and demonstrating flint marble-making (marbles made for playing “rolley hole,” a regional marble game played in the Upper Cumberland River Valley) on his machine constructed from an assemblage of spare auto parts. Among other venues, he performed at the 1982 World's Fair, the Smithsonian Institute's 1985 Festival of American Folklife, and the annual Tennessee Grassroots Days in Nashville. In addition to commercial releases, selections of his music appear on recordings of the Tennessee Folklore Society, and several interviews are housed in the Tennessee State Library and Archives. Garrett died November 24, 1987, in Free Hill, while playing marbles.