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The Blues

The evolution of the renowned music genre from its inception to the present day - including the phases it went through as well as the musicians, events, places and times that helped shape it to become what it is today.
by

Sean Goddard

on 7 January 2014

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Transcript of The Blues

Delta Blues
About The Delta Blues
Location - Mississippi Delta area, United States
Time period - 1920's-1930's


1920's-30's Mississippi Delta
Significant Events
Charley Patton
Significant Musicians
Son House
Robert Johnson
Chicago
Blues
About The Chicago Blues
Location - Chicago, United States
Time period - 1940's-1960's
1940's-60's Chicago
Significant Events
Significant Musicians
Muddy Waters
Howlin' Wolf
Little Walter
Willie Dixon
Mod
e
n
r
Bl
u
es
The British Blues Boom
Location - Britain
Time period - 1960's
Significant Events
Significant Musicians
Alexis Korner
Cyril Davies
John Mayall
The Rolling Stones
Eric Clapton
Blues In The Present
Location - Worldwide
Time period - 1980's-Present Day
Significant Events
The Great Depression
& The Dust Bowl
Racial Segregation
Radio & Recording Technology
Electric Guitars &Amplification
The 2nd Great Migration
The Chess Record Company
Muddy Waters' Britain Tour
The British Invasion
Creation of Blues Rock
Deep south heavily reliant on agriculture
Most of the population lived in rural areas
The first known form of Blues music
Formed in the African-American community of workers and farmers
"People keep asking me where the blues started and all I can say is that when I was a boy we always was singing in the fields. Not real singing, you know, just hollerin', but we made up our songs about things that was happening to us at the time, and I think that's where the blues started." - Son House
Majority of the African-American population lived in poverty
Work was hard and pay was little, most relied on working on white-owned plantations
1902-1988
Originally a preacher, he turned to a musical career that spanned from 1926-1941 before going into obscurity, to be rediscovered in the 60's
Played with Charley Patton and Willie Brown and was a major influence to the famous Robert Johnson
Playing style consisted of heavy use of a guitar slide (Demonstrated in the video)
1891-1934
Among the first Delta Bluesmen to gain widespread fame
Started making records for Paramount Records in 1929 along with Son House
An extremely talented musician with a sense of showmanship, Patton could play the guitar behind his back and between his legs
1911-1938
Hailed as one of the most influential musicians in Blues music
He played with Charley Patton, Son House and Willie Brown, who influenced him to take up the guitar
Buddy Guy
80's Blues Revival
1913-1983, born as McKinley Morganfield
Grew up in Mississippi and played Delta Blues like other artists
His talent was discovered by musicologists for the library of congress in 1941
Moved to Chicago in 1943, playing at clubs until he signed for Chess Records in 1946
His tour of the UK in 1958 made him an international sensation and helped bring the Blues to Britain
1910-1976, born as Chester Arthur Burnett
Learned the Blues from an early age in Mississippi by blues great Charley Patton, before moving to Chicago and signing to Chess Records in 1953
Throughout his career, he maintained a strong collaboration with songwriter Willie Dixon and a friendly rivalry with Muddy Waters
Wolf gained his name through his deep singing voice, large stature and his stage acts, often going on all fours and howling
1928-1984, known as the "Father of British Blues"
Immigrated to Britain during World War II and discovered the Blues from American records
Spent most of the 40's and 50's playing in jazz clubs with harmonica player Cyril Davies and opened a club playing Blues music in 1954
Formed Britain's first blues band "Blues Incorporated" in 1962
Acted as a mentor to many young musicians who would later gain widespread fame
The divide between Black and White Americans was stronger and more bitter in the south
Most public areas like restaurants, bathrooms and trains and buses had separate quarters or were restricted for Black citizens
Blues music would remain mostly within Black communities and wouldn't gain widespread recognition by White audiences for another 2 decades
Worldwide economic depression lasting from 1929 to the beginning of World War II
In the US, unemployment rose to 13-15 million, half the banks had gone out of business and the market for agriculture slumped
This left millions in poverty without jobs or a steady source of food
The Dust Bowl
The Great Depression
Soil erosion and drought throughout the 1930's in Southern states caused devastating dust storms to sweep across the Deep South
Virtually all forms of agriculture hit by the storms were destroyed
The Deep South, heavily reliant on agriculture, lost most of its primary source of income
1930-1968, born as Marion Walter Jacobs
Picking up a harmonica at an early age, Walter was playing solo at bars in his native New Orleans by age 12
He left to Chicago in 1947, playing the harmonica in Muddy Waters' band for Chess Records by 1950
He contributed to many of Muddy's hits even as he found his own fame after a string of successful releases in 1952
Walter was the first blues harpist to explore harmonica amplification and distortion and is considered one of the most influential blues harpists in history
Run by brothers Leonard and Phil Chess with Leonard's son Marshall
Chess Records studio in Chicago
Chicago's most successful record company was formed in 1950 by brothers Leonard and Phil Chess
Chess Records was among the first white-run studios to focus solely on the Blues and music from African American artists and publicise them to white audiences
Crossroads Music Festival
Digital Music Sharing
Significant Musicians
The massive migration of African Americans from southern states to the more urbanised northern states, in search of better jobs and lives
Between the 1940's and 70's over 5 million people had migrated to the north
With these migrants came the Blues music that was a part of life in the south
A majority of Chicago's biggest musicians were originally from the South and had built upon the Delta Blues they had grown up with to create the more electrified Chicago Blues
The company had a reputation for signing musicians of extreme talent and great potential and bringing them widespread recognition
Chicago's greatest Blues and later, Rock & Roll and Soul artists all came to Chess Records, many even having their careers kick started by them
Music sharing applications like iTunes, SoundCloud, Spotify and Grooveshark allow for music to be shared to others online
This has made Blues music accessible all around the world
Countless Blues classics have been digitally remastered and restored, gaining new new audiences to the Blues
1915-1992
Born in Mississippi, he was taught rhyme by his mother at an early age
Moved to Chicago in 1936 and played in clubs throughout the 40's, becoming a singer and songwriter for Chess by 1951
He could read, write, compose and arrange music and thus became the backbone of Chess record’s several hit musicians, Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf included
His career was mostly spent collaborating with other artists, before finding success as a solo artist in 1970
Stevie Ray Vaughan
Jack White
Music festival hosted by Eric Clapton every three years: 2004, 7, 10, 13 and on
Brings Blues musicians of all ages together, to play Blues music
Young, newer musicians and the old veterans of the Blues alike all contribute to the Blues living on
Born 1945
A blues enthusiast since a young age, he started playing the guitar at 16 and his guitar virtuosity became noticed fast
Throughout the 60's he played with groups like such as The Yardbirds and John Mayall's Bluesbreakers before forming his own Blues Rock group Cream from 1966-68
Formed in 1962, amidst the Blues Boom and just in time for the British Invasion
Even the world's biggest rock group started in the Blues, with some members having even played in Alexis Korner's Blues Incorporated and John Mayall's Bluesbreakers
Before 1965, when their first tries at songwriting proved to be successful, the Stones were covering older Blues songs and revitalising them to newer audiences
Born 1933
A Blues fanatic since his early teens, he was an avid collector of Blues records from America, which were hard to come by
Formed his group "John Mayall's Bluesbreakers" in 1963
The Bluesbreakers featured an ever changing line-up of young musicians, who would eventually become members of successful groups like The Rolling Stons, Cream, Fleetwood Mac and Canned Heat
The Bluesbreakers found major success with their album featuring Eric Clapton, which became an icon to modern Blues music
Born 1936
Picking up the guitar at a young age, he moved to Chicago in 1957, playing at clubs Bluesmen frequented
He came under the wing of Muddy Waters and became a backing guitarist for his band
He joined Chess Records in 1959 as a session musician and would play backing guitar to the Greats, Muddy, Howlin' Wolf and Little Walter
His talent and innovation with the electric guitar earned him the idolisation of the newer generation of blues guitarists, including Eric Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughan and even Jimi Hendrix
Post-war Chicago was booming with opportunity
People would migrate to Chicago and other large cities from all across America
Chicago was a particular favourite destination for African American migrants from the south
With migrants from all over the south, different styles and variations of Blues were all mixed together to form the Chicago Blues
Clubs frequented by Blacks became hot locations for Blues musicians to prove themselves and gain attention
For performers in the quiet open lands of the rural southern states, making themselves heard was no problem. However in Chicago, they needed a way of making themselves heard above the noise of the city. The invention of the electric guitar was their solution.
Leo Fender's first widely produced solid body guitar in 1950 became a favourite for Blues musicians
The Black Keys
John Mayer
Derek Trucks
1954-1990
Vaughan was a born Texas Bluesmen, playing since he was a boy along with his brother Jimmie, another Blues guitarist
He was majorly influenced by the guitar playing of Jimi Hendrix and incorporated several of his signature techniques into his own
Led mainly by Stevie Ray Vaughan and a revitalised Buddy Guy
From the early 1980's onwards to 1990, the Blues dominated the music scene
1932-1964
A harmonica player and a purist of the Chicago Blues, he was heavily influenced by Little Walter
Started a long term musical partnership with Alexis Korner in 1954
First toured in 1958, to massive success
Audiences had only seen quiet acoustic blues musicians before him and were shocked by the volume and sheer power of the Chicago Blues
Following Muddy's introduction to the Chicago Blues came a scramble in Britain for new Blues bands that could replicate and emulate his music
After his tour came many more from several American Blues artists throughout the 60's, finding fame on an international scale
Born 1979
A member of he Allman Brothers Band since he was a teenager
Signature playing style using a slide guitar, with very intricate complicated melodies
Born 1975
Lead singer and guitarist of bluesy Garage Rock group the White Stripes
Heavily influenced by the Delta Blues, he has made covers of Robert Johnson and Son House songs and
Born 1977
Originally considered a pop hitmaker, John had progressively developed more of the Blues into his music as he went
Had fully revealed his passion for the Blues in live performances by 2007
Guitar playing style heavily influenced by the Blues guitar styles of Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan
Vaughan found fame in 1982 after performing at the Montreux Jazz Festival with his band "Double Trouble"
His success continued unhindered by his death in a helicopter crash in 1990, however it marked the end of the 80's Blues Revival period
Formed in 2001 by Dan Auerbach (Vocalist, Guitarist) & Patrick Carney (drummer)
The duo have been playing a Blues/Garage Rock combo from the start, with several songs being highly Blues influenced
Prior to the 1960's, British artists had difficulty finding fame abroad
The Beatlemania that spread to the US in 1963 paved the way for British artists to dominate the music charts throughout the rest of the 60's
1910 - Radio broadcasting becomes a possibility, allowing for musicians to broadcast to the general public for the first time
1920 - Release of the first playable Blues record sees Blues music as playable from home
Formed in the mid 60's through groups like Cream, Rolling Stones, the Yardbirds
Mixed Psychedelic and heavier rock with traditional Blues to create a fusion of genres
A popular myth states that Johnson sold his soul to the devil in order to gain his advanced skills
Several of his songs have been covered extensively by various artists and are considered Blues classics
Full transcript