The dominant gene in the DNA of rock ’n’ roll comes from the blues, which is just one reason why many believe it’s the most important musical genre of the last 100 years. Everyone from Chuck Berry to The Beatles to Led Zeppelin has used the basic 12-bar blues chord progression as the underlying structure for their music. Indeed, it’s difficult to imagine much of contemporary music without it.
Cognizant of this fact, the Rock and Roll Museum inducted blues legend Robert Johnson into its Hall of Fame in 1986, the institution’s very first year. The following year it added Johnson acolyte Muddy Waters to its ranks, along with bluesmen B.B. King and Big Joe Turner. In subsequent years, blues artists such as Lead Belly, Bessie Smith, Ma Rainey, Howlin’ Wolf, John Lee Hooker, Jimmy Reed, and Willie Dixon, among others, have been inducted into the hallowed hall.
For vinyl record collectors, blues records are particularly appealing because the style spans so many years and formats. For example, collectors of antique 10-inch 78 RPM discs on Okeh and other labels look for Bessie Smith tunes such as “Safety Mama” or “Blind” Lemon Jefferson songs like “How Long, How Long.” In the 1920s, Jefferson’s music was so popular that some of his records enjoyed as many as 750,000 pressings.
The Depression knocked some of the stuffing out of the blues market, and World War II forced many labels to cease operations altogether as raw materials were husbanded for the war effort. But a parallel upheaval was happening in the blues, as artists moved from the Mississippi Delta region in the south to urban areas up north.
In Chicago, Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, and John Lee Hooker all made their mark, trading their acoustic Martin guitars for electric ones made by Gibson and others (B.B. King’s black ES-335, which he named Lucille, remains one of the most identifiable instruments in music).
One of Chicago’s leading blues artists was Willie Dixon. He performed extensively in the postwar era, but he also wrote a lot of tunes recorded as 45s on Chess Records, by performers from locals Waters and Wolf to England’s Rolling Stones—their 45 single of Willie Dixon’s “Little Red Rooster” was recorded in Chicago for Chess in 1965.
In fact, in the 1960s, rock bands would regularly weave blues numbers by Dixon, Lightnin’ Hopkins, and Bo Diddley into their repertoires. First pressings of “East-West” by the Paul Butterfield Blues Band are prized, as are mint mono LPs of the 1966 “Blues Breakers with Eric Clapton” album—the leader of that band, John Mayall, was one of the greatest champions of the U.S. blues in England...
Then there were the Yardbirds, a blues-inspired pop outfit that launched the careers of not only Clapton (good luck finding a seven-inch single of their 1965 hit, “For Your Love”) but also Jeff Beck (the U.K. release of “Roger the Engineer” is much sought after) and Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page (look for “Little Games”).
Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)
Association of Vogue Picture Record Collectors
The Remington Site
Clubs & Associations
Other Great Reference Sites
Most watched eBay auctions
Recent News: Blues Records
Source: Google News
Good Times, Bad Times: Jimmy Page In PicturesClash Magazine, November 27th
Like, all those old blues records where they've got two guitarists going on, like the Howlin' Wolf stuff and Muddy Waters; you hear some wonderful guitar parts blending. The Stones were doing that, but we wanted to have stuff that was more like a big...Read more
Christopher 'Kong' Jon Peter SquiresWinona Daily News, November 26th
He loved music, and could be found listening to old scratchy blues records at every chance. Christopher's humor was enough to dry your tears; his loyalty was stronger than anything the world could offer. Christopher met the love of his life, Sarah...Read more
Eliot Bronson builds songs on a foundation of the sacred and secularThe Daily Times, November 26th
Sacred music shaped him, but so too did the folk and blues records that were always on his parents' turntable, he told The Daily Times this week. It all shines through on his new self-titled album, a soupçon of country lamentations, folk ruminations...Read more
Amy of ArabiaArkansas Times, November 26th
In her time, she has worked as a waitress at Sims Barbecue (she may, in fact, have been the reverse Jackie Robinson of that Little Rock foodie fixture), spun blues records as a DJ at KABF-FM, 88.3, and taught school. Last summer, she drained the fifth...Read more
Steve Earle On The Making of Terraplane Blues … And Then SomeAmerican Songwriter, November 20th
But there's one song that's based on the fact that I very much believe, for me, where I come from, the first two ZZ Top records are blues records. And that one track that rocks pretty hard is kind of from that. So is “Terraplane Blues” your favorite...Read more
Various Artists – The Healing Blues (2014)Something Else! Reviews, November 7th
Money is generated by selling a blues-oriented record by a rotating roster of local bands, but this CD, also called The Healing Blues (October 5, 2014, Healing Blues Records), uses a novel approach to come up with the music. All fifteen songs are drawn...Read more
Jack White discusses jazz and blues records of Paramount Records at Yale ...NME.com, October 30th
Jack White has appeared at Yale University, discussing the jazz and blues records of Paramount Records. The former White Stripes frontman appeared at the prestigious establishment in New Haven, Connecticut earlier this week (October 28), taking part in...Read more
Jack White Speaks at Yale About (What Else?) 1920s Blues RecordsBillboard, October 29th
Yale University welcomed rock-legend-in-the-making Jack White to their campus on Tuesday night. And what happens when you invite Jack White to anything? He's going to start talking about blues records from the 1920s, whether it's applicable or not...Read more