McCain had a long music career that spanned over five decades up to his passing. His best-known songs include “Ain’t No Use for Drug Abuse” and “Burn the Crackhouse Down,” which he wrote about goings-on in his neighborhood.
“I just think Jerry was one of a kind,” McCain’s friend, M.D. Garmon, told the Gadsden Times. “I think his harmonica style was more like a saxophone. A lot of people who play blues harmonica play a lot of notes — they just work the notes to death — and Jerry would just play a real sparse line of notes and say more than all the people who play the flurry of notes.”
McCain died Wednesday morning after nearly a month in the hospital fighting a heart condition.
McCain was preceded in death by his wife, Doris Jean; daughter, Geraldine; parents, Marcellas and Cynthia; brothers and sisters, Walter, Roosevelt, Thelma and Geneva; and three nieces and nephews. He is survived by his grandchildren, Leshell and Joe Billy Toles, and seven nieces and nephews.
McCain’s first record was cut at the famous Trumpet Records in Jackson, Mississippi. In the time since, McCain released over fifty singles, recorded with Okeh and Excello labels, and was awarded the Alabama Folk Heritage Award by the Alabama State Council in 2007.