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”).
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Recent News: Blues Records
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Bachman launches "Heavy Blues" tour in MilwaukeeOnMilwaukee.com, March 28th
"Heavy Blues" was produced by uber-producer Kevin Shirley, who has worked with rockers such as AC/DC, Rush and Iron Maiden but also recently struck gold with a pair of fantastic blues records with Joe Bonamassa and Beth Hart. "Kevin Shirley owed me a ...Read more
Samuel Charters, famous blues scholar, dies in SwedensNew York Daily News, March 22nd
To this day, there are still no known copies of a handful of early blues records. Charters, who was born in Pittsburgh and first drawn to the blues when he heard Bessie Smith singing "Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out," decided these stories ...Read more
Vinyl records a big draw among crate-diggers, audiophilesWashington Times, March 21st
MEMBER EXCHANGE ADVANCE FOR SUNDAY, MARCH 22, 2015 - In this March 7, 2015 photo Douglas Hovey, of Bridgeport, Conn., shows a collection of his Blues records for sale to Sam Ogrodowski of Easton, Conn., during the Music Mash 2015 ... more ...Read more
Fresh Air Remembers Blues And Jazz Historian Samuel Charters90.5 WESA, March 20th
As early as the late '40s, the jazz groups I was playing with, we had one or two blues records that we would listen to even though we knew nothing about it - nothing. And I heard over the radio - of course, I was part of the black community in the...Read more
Live coverage: Jack White's Rolling Record StoreShreveport Times, March 16th
Times ACE reporter Tiana Kennell will update live on Twitter from Third Man Records Rolling Record Store beginning at 3:30 p.m.. Day Old Blues Records will host the traveling record store from 3 to 7 p.m. today at its store at 437 Kings Highway in...Read more
Exclusive: Dan Aykroyd Launches Blues Brothers Records: 'I Want to Find the ...Billboard, March 16th
Jack White and Aerosmith have done blues records. After I saw Miley Cyrus on Saturday Night Live, I could hear her doing Lightnin' Hopkins with that growling voice. By working with a first-class producer in Don and using BluesMobile to help sell, there...Read more
Jack White's Rolling Record Store in Shreveport todayShreveport Times, March 4th
Third Man Records' Rolling Record Store will be in Shreveport with an inventory of hot tunes on vinyl and merchandise for sale. Day Old Blues Records will host the traveling record store from 3 to 7 p.m. today at its store at 437 Kings Highway in...Read more
Nettwerk Acquires An Interest In Jazz/Blues Label Justin Time RecordsAll Access Music Group, March 3rd
NETTWERK MUSIC GROUP has acquired an interest in JUSTIN TIME RECORDS, an independent music label with a 30+ year history of releasing jazz and blues records from such luminaries as DIANA KRALL, OSCAR PETERSON, OLIVER JONES and ...Read more