Cootie Stark (Johnnie Miller)

Black and white photograph of Cootie Stark

Cootie Stark. Photographed by David Gahr. Music Maker Foundation.

(1926-2005)  Johnny Miller was born in Abbeville, SC to John Henry and Lola Starks. 

Johnny was a great musician, although he became blind at an early age he never let his handicap stop him. He traveled across the country under the stage name of "Cootie Starks Sugar Man," making and recording blues and gospel music, under music maker labels along with agent Tim Duffy. Johnny did openings acts for great artist such as Aretha Franklin, B. B. King and the Nelville Brothers and many others. 

Plagued with poor eyesight since birth, he learned to play and sing the blues to make money. Though Stark's eyesight deteriorated and he eventually became legally blind, he continued his Blues career. He travelled across South Carolina performing at various local music venues before retiring to Greenville.

He was discovered by Tim Duffy of the Music Maker Relief Foundation when he was over seventy years old. Stark released two albums: Sugar Man (1999) and Raw Sugar in 2003, and appeared with Blues harmonica player Neal Pattman and Kenny Wayne Sheppard on Sheppard’s CD and DVD.