After years of travelling around the South, working on farms and playing on the side, Fred settles in Como, Mississippi in 1940.
Folklorist Alan Lomax comes across Fred by accident in 1959 and records two collections: Southern Folk Heritage and Southern Journey.
In 1962 admirers of Fred's music begin making their way to Como to record him and two years later Fred plays at the Newport Folk Festival, the following year he makes his first visit to Europe, as part of the American Folk Blues Festival.
Long Way from Home is released in 1966. It includes 'Big Fat Mama', the first blues song that Fred ever learned.
George Mitchell records Fred playing alongside harmonica player, Johnny Woods, in a shack in Como. The results were released in 1967 on the album Eight Years Ramblin'.
The following years he is invited to play at Newport again and the year after Fred plays some solo concerts in Britain. At home, he recotds his best-selling album I Do Not Play No Rock'n'Roll.
In 1970 two albums are released of his concerts in London and in 1971 The Rolling Stones record Fred's 'You Gotta Move' for their Sticky Fingers album.
Fred McDowell dies in Memphis on 3 July 1972.
Bonnie Raitt pays a tribute to Fred in 1976 by covering his songs 'Write Me a Few of Your Lines' and 'Kokomo Blues' on her Takin' My Time album.
'Standing at the Burying Ground' recorded with Jo Ann Kelly, is released in 1989.