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
Pop Music Plagiarism's Worst Offenses: A HistoryPhoenix New Times (blog), September 1st
The Case: Most Led Zeppelin riffs are borrowed from some unearthed blues records and repurposed for much louder, much more profitable ends. But when one of your most popular songs ever lifts lyrics from a Willie Dixon song, well, people will start to...Read more
Daniel Lanois finds new musical gold with Rocco DeLucaToronto Sun, August 29th
Lanois was captivated by his artistry and stage presence, and immediately after being introduced, they struck up a friendship (mostly consisting of riding motorcycles and listening to old blues records) and began working on what became DeLuca's second ...Read more
Funeral arrangements announced for Jim Russell, New Orleans record impresarioThe Times-Picayune - NOLA.com, August 26th
After returning home from World War II, he got into the music business as a disc jockey and concert promoter – but, as he told a camera crew from the MTV program "The Cutting Edge" in the 1980's, he was fired for playing rhythm and blues records by...Read more
The Gun Club: Fire of LovePopMatters, August 25th
“It is not an art statement / to drown a few passionate men”, is likely not a sentiment to be found on either punk or blues records preceding it, I reckon. The offbeat nature of Pierce's lyrics, declamatory and allusive, offer a twist on either genre...Read more
Hot Pick: Johnny Winter Tribute JamBeaumont Enterprise (blog), August 23rd
Johnny Winter, entertainer, as he performed at New York's Palladium Theater on Oct. 1, 1977, in a benefit performance for the New York Public Library to purchase rare blues records. (AP Photo). This open mic-format show will let local musicians pay...Read more
Story of Vee-Jay Records spun with ironyOrillia Packet & Times, August 22nd
His music also caught on with blues fans and crossed over to the pop charts — a rare occurrence for blues records. Vee-Jay quickly became a hot label. It set up an office in Chicago right across the road from arch rival Chess and hired Vivian's...Read more
What a Quart of Whiskey Might Assuage, but Never AlleviatePopMatters, August 22nd
“Consciousness,” wrote the American guitarist John Fahey, in his introduction to a book of sheet music, “is in a constant state of flux. The stable element, therefore, must be the commitment to sit there with your guitar for six hours and express...Read more
Legendary artists pay tribute to Johnny WinterTampa Bay Newspapers, August 11th
Considered one of the architects of British blues, Kim Simmonds began performing professionally in London in the mid 1960s after learning how to play guitar by listening to his brother's blues records as a teenager. As the leader and founder of the...Read more