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
Five Blues Albums Recorded Behind Prison WallsOC Weekly (blog), December 6th
Record labels took note of these raucous crowds and found a gimmick that could sell. The gimmick tailed off by the mid 1970s but country musicians and blues cats had a new stop on the touring circuit for a little while. Here are five of blues records...Read more
Wild Melancholy: An Interview with Zachary CalePopMatters, November 20th
“It's like old blues records, too, where there's a melancholy, solitary side, but also a wildness. If you listen to a Robert Johnson record, you hear both.” From the Bayou to John Fahey. Zachary Cale grew up in Louisiana where, from the age of about 12...Read more
Cool Things / Memphisness Is "I Found My Love in Memphis" the greatest song ...Memphis Flyer (blog), November 19th
Wooten released country, rock, and blues records but is probably best remembered by record collectors for the (sometimes psychedelic) gospel releases on his Designer label. Available sources suggest he passed away after moving from Memphis to Jackson ...Read more
Interview: We chat to Bill Wyman ahead of his Tyneside gigChronicleLive, November 19th
People don't understand that when The Stones started there wasn't any Blues in England. It was never played on the radio and there were no Blues records in the shops. I knew nothing about it until I joined The Stones before Charlie joined. It was then...Read more
'I have a good feel for what people want to hear'KVAL, November 14th
Tefteller has collected thousands of rare blues records over the years including a Tommy Johnson 78 he paid $37,100 for earlier this year. Tefteller is a recognized expert nationally and internationally when it comes to the blues. (AP Photo/The Daily...Read more
Deep blues: Elvin Bishop returning to the StateModesto Bee, November 14th
Bishop remembers finding a drugstore that sold the old blues records from the jukeboxes in the black part of town and buying them for 7 cents each. After graduating from high school, Bishop moved to Chicago, where he went to school to study physics...Read more
Stream Jake Bugg's 'There's a Beast and We All Feed It' From His New 'Shangri La'SPIN, November 13th
They only knew what they had: the old blues records, the Everlys. That's the case now: It's all about accumulation. There's a very fine line between being influenced and imitating. And that's the line you don't want to cross. For Shangri La, did you...Read more
Norton's 'Tragic Songs from the Grassy Knoll' collects lost tributes to a ...Dallas Morning News (blog), November 12th
And it began with a New Yorker's trip through Oak Cliff — or, more specifically, Top Ten Records on Jefferson Boulevard, where Stevie Ray Vaughan used to buy his blues records when he was just a kid. Of course that's not what it's known for: The...Read more