Ide kerül minden ami kedvenc zeném a blues zenével kapcsolatos. Jó szívvel gyűjtöttem, fogadd szeretettel!

Először is szeretnék egy blues lexikont létrehozni, amelyben a teljesség igénye nélkül a legismertebb blueszenészek szerepelnének.

Blues zenészek lexikona:


b. 11 May 1923; Chicago, IL
d. 27 December 1997; Los Angeles, CA
Record executive of the post–World War II era, heading at different times two of the biggest black-owned labels of all time, Vee-Jay and Motown. With owner Art Sheridan, he first ran the Chance label (1950–1954) and then served as the general manager and part owner at Vee-Jay beginning in 1955, running the company for founders Vivian Carter and James Bracken. In 1961 he became president. Under his stewardship, Vee-Jay (and its subsidiary label Abner) became a major independent by not only getting hits on such blues acts as Jimmy Reed and John Lee Hooker, but also such soul acts as Jerry Butler, Gene Chandler, Dee Clark, Betty Everett, and such rock ’n’ roll acts as the Beatles and the Four Seasons. Abner owned and headed Constellation (1963–1966), and then joined Motown, where he served as its president from 1973 to 1975. Abner continued to work with Motown’s Berry Gordy in various capacities until his death


b. 27 June 1913; near Gueydan, LA
d. 13 May 1981; Basile, LA
Cajun vocalist and accordionist, noted for his ‘‘Pine Grove Blues,’’ which he first recorded in 1949 for the OT label run by Virgil Bozeman. For many years he was active mostly in south Louisiana, although in the 1970s he performed widely at festivals and colleges.


b. John Marshall Alexander, Jr., 9 June 1929;
Memphis, TN
d. 25 December 1954; Houston, TX
Ace served in the U.S. Navy during World War II and returned to Memphis in 1946 to perform with several groups, including the B. B. King and the Beale Street Boys group. After King and Bobby Bland left the group, Ace renamed the group the Beale Streeters. He joined the Duke label in 1952 and scored a #1 hit with his first release, ‘‘My Song.’’ Following
releases were hits as well: ‘‘Cross My Heart,’’ ‘‘The Clock,’’ ‘‘Never Let Me Go,’’ ‘‘Please Forgive Me,’’ and ‘‘Saving My Love for You.’’ Ace died tragically at the age of twenty-five. His death was attributed to Russian Roulette, despite
widely circulated rumors of murder and career manipulation, and came at the peak of his career. That year, he had been voted most programmed artist of the year by a Cashbox magazine poll.
Following his death, his career culminated with the release of ‘‘Pledging My Love.’’ It is an anthem to love and youthful angst; its success was fueled partially by the mystique surrounding his tragically young death and its soulful rendition of what would turn out to be an R&B standard.
Unfortunately, few recordings exist for Ace. In his brief career, virtually everything was released in the months following his death. The limited amount of material does not, however, diminish his role as an essential troubadour of this phase of R&B music in America.


b. 28 February 1943; Oakland, CA
d. 27 November 1998; Omaha, NE
An R&B singer from Chicago whose vulnerable soprano voice typified the city’s brand of soft soul during the 1960s and 1970s. After Acklin joined Brunswick Records in 1966, her first singles did not meet major success, but when she teamed up with Gene Chandler in 1968, the duo scored two hits: ‘‘Show Me the Way to Go’’ and ‘‘From the Teacher to the Preacher.’’ Her solo career was also established in 1968 with two big hits, ‘‘Love Makes a Woman’’ and ‘‘Just Ain’t No Love.’’ Acklin was a valuable songwriter for Brunswick, achieving her first big success in 1966 by cowriting one of Jackie Wilson’s best hits, ‘‘Whispers (Gettin’ Louder).’’ Collaborating with the company’s ace songwriter, Eugene Record,
she contributed ‘‘Have I Seen Her,’’ ‘‘Let Me Be the Man My Daddy Was,’’ and ‘‘Toby’’ for the Chi-Lites.


b. Roberta Louise Osborn, 26 July 1917; Indianapolis, IN
Vocalist. Santelli gives a birth date of July 26, 1923. Adams moved to Detroit before age five and began her career in the late 1930s as a tap dancer. She started to sing at Club B&C in 1942, worked steadily as a vocalist from 1942 onward, and then began incorporating blues into her repertoire. By 1944 she was billed locally as ‘‘Queen of the Blues.’’ Adams toured with Lionel Hampton, Louis Jordan, and TBone Walker and recorded for Chess in 1952 and under her own name for Cannonball.


b. 25 December 1940; Medon (near Jackson), TN
Adams learned to play his uncle’s Silvertone guitar. Gospel music shaped his first interest in music, but he soon switched to blues. In the early 1960s, Adams moved to Los Angeles where he became a top studio guitarist, writing songs for television movies and touring the United States and Europe with soul divas (Nina Simone, Diana Ross, Maria Muldaur, and others) before achieving a dream and becoming head of the house band at B. B. King’s club in Los Angeles
in 1995. In 1999 he recorded his first blues album and started an unending series of gigs in clubs and festivals throughout the world.


b. 1918; Alabama
d. 27 February 1988; Chicago, IL
Vocalist in the style of Cab Calloway, active especially during the 1940s and 1950s. Recorded six sides with Tom Archia for Aristocrat in Chicago, and also for the ML, Ald, Hy, Change, and Parrot labels. In his later years, he occasionally performed in small neighborhood venues in Chicago.


b. ca. 1932; Newark, NJ
Aka Faye Scruggs, Fayle Tuell. Larkin gives birth
year as circa 1925. Blues, R&B, and ‘‘pre-soul’’ singer who gained fame for such hits on the Herald label as ‘‘Shake A Hand,’’ ‘‘I’ll Be True’’ (which were #1 hits in 1953), and ‘‘Hurts Me to My Heart’’ (reached #1 in 1954). Also recorded on the Lido, Warwick, Savoy, and Prestige labels in the early 1960s. In later years she devoted her time to church activities


b. 17 February 1911; Morganfield, KY
Learned guitar from his father. Moved to Indianapolis in 1941, where he met Scrapper Blackwell. His main musical partner was Shirley Griffith, with whom he made the Bluesville album J. T. Adams and Shirley Griffith (Bluesville BVLP-1077). Activity not known after 1977.


b. Latham John Adams, 5 January 1932; New
Orleans, LA
d. 14 September 1998; Baton Rouge, LA
Singer. The ‘‘Tan Canary’’ of New Orleans, often
considered the musicians’ favorite Crescent City vocalist, began his career with a decade of gospel, singing with the Soul Revivers and the Soul Consolators before crossing over to the secular side and signing with the New Orleans-based Ric label in 1959. The Adams vocal style, at once both urbane and intense, proved to be immediately popular as he recorded a series of regional hits, the first, ‘‘I Won’t Cry,’’
produced by a teenage Mac ‘‘Dr. John’’ Rebennack.
Adams, who recruited longtime associate and swamp
soul guitar star Walter ‘‘Wolfman’’ Washington for
his live act, scored his biggest hit, ‘‘Reconsider Me,’’ in 1969. Adams, however, soon dropped out of the national scene, performing almost exclusively in New Orleans, primarily at his regular gig at Dorothy’s Medallion Lounge, and also making an annual appearance at the Heritage & Jazz Festival. Adams reappeared in 1984 when he resumed recording, beginning a long affiliation with Rounder Records on the release of ‘‘From the Heart,’’ an album featuring Washington leading his working band in the only time it was recorded. A series of critically acclaimed albums, including
After Dark, Room with a View of the Blues, I
Won’t Cry Now, One Foot in the Blues; the Percy
Mayfield tribute Walking on a Tightrope followed.
Adams emphasized his jazzier side on ‘‘Good Morning Heartache’’ in 1993 and on ‘‘The Verdict,’’ which featured hometown fan Harry, Connick, Jr., on piano in 1995. He also recorded a duet on an album by R&B legend Ruth Brown. ‘‘Man of My Word’’ in 1998, which reunited him with Washington, was his final recording.


b. Ollie Marie Givens, 19 October 1925; Linden, TX
d. 23 February 1998; Houston, TX (?)
Vocalist who was a highlight of the Johnny Otis Show lineups of the 1950s. She began her recording career on the Peacock label, accompanied by the Cherokee Conyers Orchestra. Remained with the Jimmy Otis band until the late 1950s. Recorded for Capitol, Sure Play, Vended, and Encore Artists. Reported to have died in Houston, Texas, on February 23, 1998.


b. 9 April 1917; Tchula, MS
Performed on guitar and harmonica. Worked with
Howlin’ Wolf from the late 1940s through the early
1950s. Known for ‘‘Baby You Just Don’t Know,’’
‘‘Pretty Baby Blues,’’ and ‘‘The Train Is Coming.’’ Adams earned his living driving a tractor throughout life.

b. 16 October 1932; Kortrijk, Belgium
d. 5 May 1999; Kortrijk, Belgium
Author, blues photographer. Georges Adins was a
Belgian blues fan who made pioneering trips to the
United States in 1959, 1962, 1966, 1968, and 1969. His fame rests on the photos (particularly of Elmore James) and recordings from those journeys.


Doo-wop vocal group active in 1955, consisting of
Gene McDaniels, Wesley Devereaux, Will Barnes,
James Farmer, and Richard Beasley. Previously
known as the Sultans, the Admirals recorded for
King Records in Cincinnati; the releases were not
successful. After the group’s breakup, McDaniels
went on to a songwriting career


b. 10 April 1930; Dixons Mills, AL
d. ca. 1990 (?)
A fine singer, even though he never achieved more
than local success. After moving with his family to Los Angeles in the late 1930s he sang with the family gospel group, then from 1951 to the mid-1970s recorded more than a hundred titles for a myriad of West Coast labels.


Chicago blues guitarist, active since the 1980s. He got his start at the Checkerboard Lounge after sitting in with Lefty Dizz. Has played behind Son Seals, Valerie Washington, and Koko Taylor. Leads his own trio, One Eyed Jax.


b. ca. 1900; Brights, MS
d. late 1950s; perhaps Memphis, TN
Akers, a first-generation bluesman, had a repetitive, percussive guitar style that reached a new sense of urgency on duets with Joe Callicott and influenced other musicians from Memphis and beyond. He had an expressive, high-pitched voice, danced, and was a popular entertainer. Akers recorded four sides for Vocalion in 1929 and 1930 with Callicott, including his noted ‘‘Cottonfield Blues Parts 1 and 2’’ but remained essentially a local musician.


b. 12 September 1900; Jewett, TX
d. 16 April 1954; Richards, TX
Texas Alexander began recording for OKeh in 1927,
recording 56 sides for them. He played no instrument, but from 1927 to 1930 he was accompanied by Lonnie Johnson, Eddie Heywood, Eddie Lang, King Oliver, Little Hat Jones, the Mississippi Sheiks, Carl Davis, or Willie Reed, among others. Alexander often carried a guitar with him in case there was a guitarist around when he sang on the street. His records sold well, and new versions of ‘‘Range in My Kitchen’’ were recorded by William Harris and Rinehart &
Stubblefield, and Lightnin’ Hopkins and Smokey
Hogg both remade ‘‘Penitentiary Moan Blues,’’ now
a classic of Texas blues. Alexander’s style, so often consisting of lengthy moans and hums, often drawn out over unevenly spaced measures, sounds very close to the field holler. Indeed, combining a field holler with the shouts of the section gang caller—where Alexander once worked— and tailoring it into a recordable blues song would produce a sound very similar to Alexander’s. He recorded for Vocalion in 1934, backed either by a small jazz group or two guitars. He was passed over by an Aladdin scout in favor of Amos Milburn and
Lightnin’ Hopkins in 1946 or 1947. His last recording was for the Freedom label in Houston in 1950.


b. 10 May 1940; Florence, AL
d. 9 June 1993; Nashville, TN
Southern soul singer whose ballads were especially
popular during the early 1960s with the rock ’n’ roll audience. Alexander first recorded for the Judd label in 1960. He was one of the first artists to record for Rick Hall’s studio in Florence, Alabama. Hall placed Alexander’s first records with Dot Records. His initial record, ‘‘You Better Move On,’’ became a pop and
R&B hit in early 1962; the flip, ‘‘A Shot of Rhythm and Blues,’’ received heavy airplay as well. He followed with another ballad, ‘‘Where Have You Been (All My Life),’’ also a pop and R&B success in 1962. His third single from 1962 was the ballad ‘‘Anna (Go to Him),’’ a top ten R&B hit and a pop hit as well. He also recorded the well-regarded but unreleased ‘‘Every Day I Have to Cry.’’ These songs were influential and were frequently remade by other acts. ‘‘Anna’’ was subsequently recorded by the Beatles and Humble Pie, ‘‘You Better Move On’’ was recorded by the Rolling Stones and the Hollies, and
‘‘Everyday I Have to Cry’’ by Steve Alaimo and Joe
Stampley. After Dot, Alexander recorded for the Sound Stage 7 subsidiary of Monument (1965–1969) and then for Warner Brothers (1971–1972). Neither label affiliation produced any hits, however. In 1975, Alexander rerecorded ‘‘Everyday I Have to Cry Some’’ (note the slight change in the title), and he got a hit on Buddah. The following year he charted with ‘‘Sharing the Night Together.’’ In 1977 Alexander retired, but revived his career in 1990, after he was inducted into the Alabama Music Hall of Fame. Just prior to his death he recorded an album for Electra


b. Dave Alexander Elam; 10 March 1938; Shreveport,
LA Alexander began playing piano professionally in 1954 and served in the U.S. Army from 1955 to 1958. He recorded with Albert Collins under the World Pacific Label in 1969, then recorded for himself for Arhoolie during the early 1970s. In 1976 he changed his name to Omar Khayyam and since then has performed as Omar the Magnificent.


b. Liza Mae (or May) Alix, 31 August 1902; Chicago, IL
Vocalist; birth year of 1904 also given in some sources. Early career was in Chicago clubs and cabarets. Recorded ‘‘Big Butter and Egg Man’’ and ‘‘Sunset Cafe´ Stomp’’ with Louis Armstrong’s Hot Five (1926). Recorded six titles with Jimmie Noone
(1929–1930) for the Vocalion label. From 1931
through 1941, her base of activity was New York City.


b. Ernestine Letitia Allen, 11 November 1920; Champaign, IL
d. August 10, 1992; New York City, NY
Singer with the Lucky Millinder band from 1945 to
1951, recording for Queen/King, Decca, and RCA
Victor. Her rhythm and blues hits with Millinder
include ‘‘More, More, More,’’ ‘‘Let It Roll,’’
‘‘Moanin’ the Blues,’’ and ‘‘I’ll Never Be Free.’’ She was a solo artist through the early 1960s, making more records with King/Federal, Capitol Records, and Tru-Sound (with the King Curtis band).


b. 2 July 1927; Pittsburg, KS
d. 18 October 1994; Los Angeles, CA
One of the foremost tenor sax players in R&B, and
part of the nucleus of the classic New Orleans R&B
sound, Allen was not a Louisiana native. Raised in
Denver, he came to the Crescent City to attend Xavier University in 1943, but got his music education in the city’s clubs and by 1947 had joined the Paul Gayten Band. This association led to a long-running association with Dave Bartholomew’s band, regularly backing artists like Fats Domino, Smiley Lewis, Lloyd Price, Little Richard, and many others at Cosimo Matassa’s studio. He played on hundreds of hits recorded at Cosimo’s for labels such as Imperial, Specialty, and Aladdin, working out horn arrangements on the spot with fellow reed-men Alvin ‘‘Red’’ Tyler and Herb Hardesty in return for session fees but no royalties, even though their intense rhythm riffs (often tracking the bass lines) and robust solos helped sell the records. His only major hit under his own name was the instrumental ‘‘Walkin’ with Mr. Lee’’ on Ember (1957); he also produced other New Orleans artists for Ember and its sister label, Herald. In the early 1960s he rejoined Fats Domino’s band, but in 1965 he relocated to Los Angeles, working in an aerospace factory while doing session and club work. After a return stint with Domino in the early 1970s, Allen capped an illustrious career in R&B by hooking up with the young retro-rock groups the Blasters and Stray Cats in the 1980s.


b. 11 August 1949; McComb, MS
Guitarist, singer. Allen’s career took off in the late 1980s. He was involved with spiritual music. Allen has worked with B. B. King, Albert Collins, and Mick Jagger, and has recorded with Buddy Guy and Junior Wells among others.


b. 6 January 1935; Nashville, TN
Chicago blues singer who briefly made a name for
himself in the early 1960s recording hard soul and
blues. Allen started his singing in church choirs in his native Nashville, but after he came to Chicago in1960 he immersed himself in the West Side blues scene. He began recording for Mel London’s Age label in 1961 and attained success with a local hit, ‘‘You Better Be Sure,’’ a fast blues tune with a rock ’n’ roll feel. Allen scored his only national R&B hit in 1963 with the driving blues, ‘‘Cut You A-Loose.’’ His subsequent recording successes remained largely local, with such standouts as ‘‘It’s a Mess I Tell You’’ (1966) and ‘‘I Can’t Stand No Signifying’’ (1967) both issued on Willie Barney’s Bright Star label. These soulfully sung numbers presaged the
later soul-blues style that emerged in the 1970s. He retired from the music business in the early 1970s to run a laundry and later a limousine service. In 2001, Allen was lured out of retirement to perform in Sweden at the Monsteras Festival; a live CD recording was released of his performance


b. 26 November 1965; Chicago, IL
Guitarist and vocalist. Son of bluesman Luther Allison,
he joined Koko Taylor’s Blues Machine after
graduating from high school. Two years later, he
toured with his own group, Bernard Allison and
Backtalk. Allison then rejoined Taylor for another
year in the late 1980s before moving to Europe to
serve as bandleader for his father’s Paris-based
group. Allison recorded several albums on foreign
labels, including Next Generation, Hang On, No
Mercy, and Funkifino. His U.S. debut, Keepin’ the
Blues Alive, was released on Cannonball Records in
1997. Despite critical acclaim and successful tours in
the United States, Allison remains based in Paris.


b. 17 August 1939; Widener, AR
d. 12 August 1997; Madison, WI
Singer, songwriter, guitarist, harmonica player. One
of many great Chicago bluesmen to emerge from the
Chicago club scene of the 1950s and 1960s, Allison
found considerable local success, which translated
into a more wide-ranging popularity during the late
1960s and early 1970s with a reemergence in the mid-
1990s after some time spent touring in Europe. Some
resources give his birthplace as Mayflower, Arkansas.
Allison was the fourteenth of fifteen children born
into a family of cotton farmers that moved to Chicago
in 1951. At the age of eighteen, he learned the basics
of guitar playing from his older brother, Ollie. Eventually,
Allison met Freddie King, who encouraged the
fledgling musician.
Allison cut his first album with Delmark in 1969
then headlined the Ann Arbor Blues Festival in 1969,
and subsequently signed with Berry Gordy’s Motown
Records. His debut record on Motown, Bad News Is
Coming (1972), showcases his vocal intensity and instrumental
virtuosity on blues standards such as ‘‘The
Little Red Rooster,’’ ‘‘Rock Me Baby,’’ and ‘‘Dust
My Broom.’’ On these tunes, and on ‘‘Sweet Home
Chicago’’ and the instrumental ‘‘The Stumble’’
(bonus tracks on the 2001 reissue), some of Allison’s
primary influences are apparent: Magic Sam, Freddy
King, Muddy Waters, Elmore James, and B. B. King.
His subsequent Motown release, Luther’s Blues
(1974), is an album that further demonstrates Allison’s
blues influences: Magic Sam’s double-note
rhythm/solo progressions and vocal blends of soulful
crooning and piercing falsetto on ‘‘Easy Baby’’ and
‘‘Someday Pretty Baby’’; Freddy King’s shufflerhythms
on the bonus track ‘‘San-Ho-Zay’’; Elmore
James’s searing slide-work on ‘‘Driving Wheel’’;
and B. B. King’s tremolos ‘‘Someday Pretty Baby’’
and the live bonus ‘‘Medley’’ track.
After a third release on Motown, Night Life (1975),
Allison began playing extensively in Europe. During
the late 1970s when blues music waned in popularity,
Allison left the United States, toured in Europe, and
then settled in Paris in 1984. During this period,
Allison made a handful of European recordings on
minor labels with one exception: Serious (1987) on
Blind Pig Records, featuring Allison’s songwriting
abilities, guitar work, and vocals on songs such as
‘‘Backtrack,’’ ‘‘Life Is a Bitch,’’ and ‘‘Reaching Out.’’
In the mid-1990s, Allison returned to the United
States for some gigs at festivals such as the Chicago
Blues Festival and made several excellent studio
recordings: Soul Fixin’ Man (1994), which displays
Allison’s solid songwriting (along with band
member/guitarist James Solberg) and powerful guitar
work/vocals on ‘‘Bad Love,’’ ‘‘Soul Fixin’ Man,’’ and
‘‘Nobody But You’’; Blue Streak (1995), featuring a
version of Magic Sam’s ‘‘What Have I Done Wrong?’’
and numerous Allison/Solberg originals; and Reckless
(1997), which was nominated for a Grammy Award,
highlighted by the raucous ‘‘Low Down and Dirty,’’
the social criticism of ‘‘Will It Ever Change,’’ and two
powerful ballads—‘‘Just As I Am’’ and ‘‘Drowning at
the Bottom.’’
Allison received many awards for his recording/
performing efforts in the 1990s, including five W. C.
Handy Awards. Allison’s return to America was bittersweet,
however, as he succumbed to cancer in 1997. Live
in Chicago (1999) is a testament toAllison’s remarkable
live performances and to Allison’s stature as a vibrant
blues performer. His son Bernard Allison continues
Luther’s blues legacy and can be heard on his own
recordings and in collaboration with Luther on the
all-acoustic Hand Me Down My Moonshine (1998).


b. 11 November 1927; Tippo, MS
Pianist, singer, and songwriter. Allison grew up in
Mississippi, where the blues and related styles like
stride and boogie-woogie became the bedrock of his
musical style. He learned to play both piano and
trumpet before leaving high school. He graduated
from Louisiana State University in 1952, then
moved to New York, where he established himself
on the jazz scene, working with Zoot Sims, Stan
Getz, and Gerry Mulligan, among others. He made
his debut album as a leader, Back Country Suite, for
Prestige in 1957.
He led his own trio from 1958, and developed an
idiosyncratic vocal and piano style that was more
dependent on evoking moods and exercising his sly,
ironic humor than on technical wizardry. Both his
piano playing and his vocal phrasing were predicated
on a quirky, occasionally wayward individuality.
Nonetheless, his approach influenced many singers,
particularly in the United Kingdom, where Georgie
Fame was the most notable example.
He recorded extensively for Prestige, Columbia,
Atlantic, Elektra, and Blue Note. His many compositions
include a widely covered modern blues song,
‘‘Parchman Farm,’’ which was first recorded on
Local Color (Prestige, 1957).
He is an intriguing artist who seems to inhabit the
space between genres, rather than belonging firmly to
any particular style. His approach is far from the
conventional model of the Mississippi Delta blues
singer, but the influences he absorbed in that heartland
of the blues have always been strongly evident in
his music, both in his use of blues form and in less
overt blues inflexions and feeling within his music.


b. 20 June 1956; Chicago, IL
Drummer and percussionist. Recorded the album Spider
in My Stew. Allison worked with Muddy Waters
and freelanced in Europe for several years where he
recorded many albums and did session work.


A major name in 1970s blues-rock. Duane Allman
(b. 1946; d. 1971) (guitar) formed the band in
Macon, Georgia, in 1969, with Gregg Allman
(b. 1947) (keyboards, vocals), Dickey Betts (b. 1943)
(second lead guitar), Berry Oakley (b. 1948; d. 1972)
(bass), and two drummers, Jai ‘‘Johanny’’ Johansson
and Butch Trucks. Although essentially a southern
rock band, blues played a major role in their music,
alongside country, soul, and jazz. The death of Duane
Allman in a motorcycle accident in 1971, and the loss
of his distinctive slide guitar playing, led to a more
country-rock direction. They split and subsequently
reformed twice, in 1978 and 1989.

b. James Lenny Alston, 18 October 1907; Orange
County, NC
d. August 1978; Orange County, NC
Drummer and percussionist in North Carolina blues
and dance music. Recorded tracks in 1973 on Flyright’s
Orange County Special LP.

b. 17 May 1910; Pine Bluff, AR
d. 18 November 1940; Chicago, IL
Altheimer’s piano backed many of the most prominent
Chicago blues stars of the late 1930s on the
Bluebird label, including Big Bill Broonzy, John Lee
‘‘Sonny Boy’’ Williamson, Washboard Sam, and Jazz
Gillum. Along with Black Bob, Bob Call, and
‘‘Blind’’ John Davis, he was an active member of the
set of blues pianists used by producer Lester Melrose.
Although he never recorded on his own, some of his
best work can be heard on recordings by Broonzy and
Williamson made in the 1938–1940 period. After
Altheimer’s death at age thirty, Memphis Slim
replaced him as Broonzy’s primary pianist.

b. ca. 1887; Livingston, AL
Harmonica, singer of blues, dances, and sacred material.
Amerson recorded for the Library of Congress in
the 1930s, and for the Folkways label in the early


b. 23 September 1907; Chicago, IL
d. 2 or 3 December 1949; Chicago, IL
A pianist, Ammons was one of the major figures in
the development and popularization of the piano style
known as boogie-woogie. He drew on the example of
slightly older players like Jimmy Yancey in developing
his own approach. As a teenager, he practiced
with his friend Meade ‘‘Lux’’ Lewis using a mechanical
player piano for guidance, and developed a notably
powerful tremolo as a result. He began to perform
in Chicago and elsewhere during the mid-1920s.
He met Pine Top Smith in Chicago in 1927, and
later recorded a version of Smith’s ‘‘Pine Top’s Boogie-
Woogie’’ called ‘‘Boogie-Woogie Stomp’’ in 1936. He
worked in a variety of settings in Chicago, from solo
piano to his Rhythm Kings sextet, formed in 1934.
He made his New York debut in the ‘‘Spirituals to
Swing’’ concert at Carnegie Hall on December 23,
1938, in which he accompanied Big Bill Broonzy and
played in a boogie-woogie piano trio with Meade
‘‘Lux’’ Lewis and Pete Johnson.
His success led to a long-running engagement at
Cafe´ Society, initially in a duo with Lewis, and subsequently
with Johnson and singer Big Joe Turner
added. He recorded for Vocalion and Blue Note in
1939, and later for Commodore, Victor, and Decca.
The foursome was featured at the Sherman Hotel in
Chicago and became known nationally through
A hand problem left him unable to play for a
period in the mid-1940s, but he recovered. He
continued to perform throughout the decade, and
was briefly a member of the Lionel Hampton Band
in 1949. Jazz saxophonist Gene Ammons was his son.


b. 13 July 1954; Spartanburg, NC
Guitarist and singer. Alvin ‘‘Little Pink’’ Anderson
sees himself straddling two worlds: an older one of
medicine shows versus a newer one of clubs and festivals.
Combining older material, contemporary blues,
and his own compositions, Alvin seeks to play for the
same audience as his father, the legendary Pink
Anderson, did during his six-decade career.
Little Pink, a big guy who plays solo, has released
his own albums as well as recording a track on one of
his father’s albums for the Prestige label. His electric
guitar technique has been heavily influenced by
Albert Collins. Other influences include B. B. King,
Gary Moore, Cool John Ferguson, Bobby Gaines,
Marshall Tucker, and Mark Ford of the Black Crows.
Acoustically, his style is similar to Pink’s, but with
his own twist. Little Pink’s first teacher, Simmie
Dooley, was his dad’s partner; he has known Roy
Book Binder and Paul Geremia almost from birth.
Nappy Brown was a mentor to him, as was the late
Frank Edwards. Little Pink typically opens shows acoustically and
finishes electrically. He estimates that his shows are
acoustic about thirty percent of the time, electric fifty
percent. His performances, acoustic or electric, are
usually comprised of about twenty percent of his
own material. He has plenty to write about: He has
been in jail and has had numerous family tragedies.
But he is his own man now, and in the expression of
his own history, he has found freedom.

b. 18 April 1934; Bolivar, TN
d. 2 January 1985; Chicago, IL
Bassist who moved from Tennessee to Chicago in
1952. Performed with Howlin’ Wolf, James Cotton,
Koko Taylor, Eddy Clearwater, and Junior Wells.
His bass playing may be heard to advantage on
Cotton’s 1960s Verve recordings and on Charlie
Musselwhite’s LP Stand Back! (Vanguard, 1967).

b. 25 October 1925; near Conetoe, NC
d. 9 May 1980; Tarboro, NC
Guitarist. In 1973 he performed at the University of
North Carolina Fine Arts Festival blues weekend.
Recorded the LP Carolina Country Blues under the
Flyright label.


b. 1934; Natchez, MS
Harmonica player and singer in the style of Jimmy
Reed, active mostly in south Mississippi and Louisiana.
His 1960s recordings were made with producer
Jay Miller in Crowley, Louisiana, and were released on
the Zynn and Excello labels. His subsequent activity
is little documented, but it appears he recorded with
the Mojo Blues Band in 1992 for the Austrian group’s
CD Blues Roll On (EMI Austria 830319 2/C7777035).


b. 24 January 1941; Anderson, SC
Vocalist in the ‘‘deep’’ soul style of the 1960s and
1970s. His birth year has also been cited as 1938.
His better known performances are those recorded
for Checker in the 1960s, including ‘‘Without a
Woman’’ and ‘‘A Knife and a Fork.’’ Two CDs for
Ichiban Records in the 1990s revived his visibility
with record buyers.


b. 21 May 1920; West Memphis, AR
d. 20 June 1991; Chicago, IL
Harmonica player. He released an album in 1979
for the B.O.B. label. Anderson worked with Jimmy
Johnson, Smokey Smothers, Johnny Young, and
Muddy Waters.


b. 12 February 1900; Laurens, SC
d. 12 October 1974; Spartanburg, SC
Pink Anderson’s family moved to Greenville, South
Carolina, when he was one year old but the family
eventually settled in Spartanburg, South Carolina.
Anderson began his musical career in the first decade
of the twentieth century by entertaining on the streets
of Spartanburg. He learned the harmonica and, by
the age of seventeen, he was on the road, performing
with Dr. Frank ‘‘Smiley’’ Kerr’s Medicine Show.
Kerr sold ‘‘medicine’’ (better known as ‘‘snake oil’’)
made by the Indian Remedy Company.
Pink buckdanced and performed on the streets and
at parties and picnics in Spartanburg with other entertainers
when he wasn’t working for Dr. Kerr. Although
he learned guitar basics from a neighbor as a child,
Pink became much more proficient after he became
the prote´ge´ of Georgia-born guitarist Simeon ‘‘Blind
Simmie’’ Dooley. In April 1928, Columbia Records
recorded four songs by the duo in Atlanta, Georgia.
Around the same time he met Dooley, Anderson
also became acquainted with Arthur Jackson (later
known as ‘‘Peg Pete’’ and ‘‘Peg Leg Sam’’) and they
became lifelong friends. Eventually they worked together
on the Kerr show. Both later worked on Leo
Kahdot’s shows. Kahdot, a Potawatomie Indian, was
known as Chief Thundercloud and started his career
as a musician in vaudeville.
Folklorist Paul Clayton recorded Anderson at the
Virginia State Fair in May 1950. Samuel Charters
began recording him at his home in Spartanburg in
1962. This eventually led to a short film called The
Bluesmen, which also featured Charles ‘‘Baby’’ Tate,
another close friend of Anderson’s. The film featured
Pink’s young son, Alvin, known today as ‘‘Little
Pink.’’ Charters also recorded three albums of music
by the elder Anderson.
Forced to stop playing due to a 1964 stroke,
Anderson lived until 1974. He is buried at Lincoln
Memorial Gardens in Spartanburg.


British rhythm and blues band. Formed in 1962 in
Newcastle-upon-Tyne, the Animals featured Eric
Burdon as lead vocalist and Alan Price on organ.
(Bass player Chas Chandler later managed Jimi
Hendrix.) The Animals backed visiting blues artists
in the northeast, including Sonny Boy Williamson.
They had an international hit with their version of
‘‘House of the Rising Sun’’ in 1964. Several hit singles
followed with producer Mickie Most, including a
version of John Lee Hooker’s ‘‘Boom Boom’’
(1964). The group became Eric Burdon and the Animals
in 1966–1968 and the musical direction changed
to rock. Occasional partial reunions occurred in later
years. Burdon and Price went on to establish solo
careers, often in blues contexts.


b. 27 August 1940; Lafayette, LA
A versatile accordion player who first recorded with
Fernest and the Thunders on the Blues Unlimited
label in the 1970s. He has performed Louisiana
dance music, New Orleans-style R&B, and blues.


b. Ernest Alvin Archie, Jr., 26 November 1919; Groveton,
d. 16 January 1977; Houston, TX
Tenor sax jazz musician of the big band era who built
a second career as a rhythm and blues session man
after World War II. Archia moved from Texas to
Chicago in 1942 as a member of the Milt Larkin
Band (1940–1943), then served in Roy Eldridge’s
band and the Rhumboogie Club house band. In
1945, Archia moved to Los Angeles, working with
Howard McGhee and recording with Illinois and
Russell Jacquet and Helen Humes. Back in Chicago
in 1946, he recorded with Eldridge’s band, and then
from 1947 to 1950 he led the house band at Leonard
and Phil Chess’s legendary Macomba Lounge. Chess
put out eight sides on Archia on Aristocrat (which in
1950 would become Chess Records), and used Archia
to back blues singer Andrew Tibbs. Archia’s blowing
was robust and suffused with blues feeling, which is
why he was also used in 1947 to back such blues
artists as Marion Abernathy, Big Maybelle, and
Wynonie Harris for King Records. He did two sessions
with Dinah Washington in 1952–1953. Archia
returned to Houston in 1968.


b. Leon T. Gross, 14 September 1912; New Orleans,
d. 8 January 1973; New Orleans, LA
Sometimes a musician becomes permanently associated
with a particular selection, and that alone certifies their
longevity. In Archibald’s case, that benchmark is the
1950 release ‘‘Stack-a-Lee.’’ Most people associate the
composition with Lloyd Price’s 1958 release entitled
‘‘Stagger Lee.’’ Archibald’s version appeared on an
Imperial single and reached the R&B top ten. Subsequently,
the pianist, born Leon T. Gross, aka ‘‘Archie
Boy,’’ returned to national anonymity, although he
continued to record for Imperial through 1958. He
made his living through residences at New Orleans
venues such as the Poodle Patio Club and the Court of
Two Sisters, his recording career known only to the
cognoscenti of the city’s musical culture.


b. 16 November 1915; Duralde, LA
Alphonse ‘‘Bois Sec’’ Ardoin is the nephew of legendary
Creole accordionist and singer Ame´de´ Ardoin and
the grandfather of zydeco performers Chris and Shawn
Ardoin. He plays one-row button accordion in a style
that is strongly traditional Creole with Cajun influence.
For almost forty years he played duets with fiddler
Canray Fontenot until Fontenot’s death in 1996


b. 11 March 1896; L’Anse Rougeau, LA
d. 9 November 1941, Alexandria, LA
First name sometimes shown as Amadie. Ardoin was
an accordionist and one of the pioneers of black
Cajun music on records. From 1921 on he often
performed with white fiddler Denis McGee. In 1928
he signed with Columbia Records. Also recorded with
Brunswick, Decca, and Bluebird, including the songs
‘‘La Valse De Gueydan,’’ ‘‘Les Blues De Voyages,’’
and ‘‘Oberlin.’’ From the late 1930s until his death, he
was committed to the Louisiana State Institution for
the Mentally Ill.


b. 4 March 1909; LaFollette, TN
d. 30 July 2003; Boston, MA
Though he could play many instruments, Howard
Armstrong’s primary musical instruments were the
fiddle and mandolin. He played with Carl Martin
and Ted Bogan for much of his career. Their prewar
era string band was known under names including the
Four Keys and the Tennessee Chocolate Drops.
Credited as the latter, Armstrong made his first
recordings with Martin in 1930 for Vocalion. He
also recorded with Bogan for Bluebird in 1934, this
time credited as ‘‘Louie Bluie.’’ In the 1970s, the trio
achieved fame touring and recording as Martin,
Bogan, and Armstrong. In 1985, Armstrong was the
main subject of the documentary film Louie Bluie. He
continued to perform until shortly before his death.


b. 22 April 1957; Los Angeles, CA
Singer, guitarist, and songwriter, whose influences include
Jimi Hendrix, Albert King, Albert Collins, and
Robert Cray. Since 1995 he has been a HighTone label
recording artist. He wrote the songs for his second CD,
Dark Night, while recovering from a 1996 stabbing.


b. Daniel Louis Armstrong, 4 August 1901; New
Orleans, LA
d. 6 July 1971; New York, NY
Trumpeter, singer. Jazz innovator Armstrong was one
of the most important musical figures of the twentieth
century, both for his pioneering role in the evolution of
instrumental soloing and as an enduring vocal influence
who popularized horn-derived phrasing and scat
singing. A young Armstrong replaced the legendary
King Oliver in Kid Ory’s band in 1919 in New Orleans.
He moved to Chicago in 1922 to join Oliver’s Creole
Jazz Band and then to New York City in 1924 to work
with Fletcher Henderson. He backed blues singers
Bessie Smith, Ma Rainey, Sippie Wallace, and Alberta
Hunter in recording sessions before revolutionizing
ensemble play with his Hot Five and Hot Seven landmark
recordings. He formed his own band in 1927 in
Chicago and spent the next four decades as the most
popular and widely known figure in jazz.

b. 22 October 1936; Sparta, TN
d. 14 December 1996; Chicago, IL
Tom Armstrong was the son of Howard Armstrong.
He played bass with Martin, Bogan, and Armstrong
(also known as Martin, Bogan, and the Armstrongs).
He recorded and toured extensively with the group.
He also played the trumpet and was a painter.

b. 8 February 1929; Colquitt, GA
Bass player. Grew up in Cleveland, Ohio; settled in
Sacramento, California. Worked with bands in
France, Vietnam, and Japan while in the armed services.
Sat in with Tiny Grimes as a youngster and
played with the Sensations in Japan. Arnett was a
member of Soul of the Blues, a popular Sacramentobased
blues band.


b. William Arnold; 16 September 1935; Chicago, IL
Harmonica player and vocalist. He took a few lessons
with Sonny Boy (John Lee) Williamson in 1948 and
was very influenced by his style. Made his recording
debut for a small local label as a teenager in 1952,
issued by the company under the name Billy Boy
Arnold. Although not his own choice, he decided to
retain the name. Arnold joined Bo Diddley’s trio and
played harmonica on the hit single ‘‘Hey Bo Diddley’’/
‘‘I’m a Man’’ in 1955 and on other recordings with the
singer. He used Bo Diddley’s trademark rhythmic
shuffle on many of his own recordings. Signed to
Vee-Jay Records, where Arnold made his best recordings
as a leader for the label in 1955–1957, including
‘‘I Wish You Would,’’ ‘‘I Ain’t Got You,’’ ‘‘Don’t
Stay Out All Night,’’ ‘‘Prisoner’s Plea,’’ ‘‘You’ve Got
Me Wrong,’’ ‘‘I Was Fooled,’’ and ‘‘Rockinitis.’’
He accompanied many Chicago luminaries in the
1950s, including Howlin’ Wolf and Muddy Waters,
but was not on their level as an artist. Arnold participated
in the Samuel Charters-produced More Blues
on the South Side for Prestige in 1963. He later
recorded for European labels while touring in blues
packages in the 1970s and 1980s. During this time he
appeared in the documentary film The Devil’s Music
(BBC) in 1977. He returned to a more prominent
profile with two albums for Alligator Records in
1993 and 1995, which critics have called his best
studio work since the mid-1950s. Boogie ‘N’ Shuffle
was released in 1999, with Duke Robillard playing
and producing. A live album was issued on Catfish
Records in 2000. Although at best an adequate vocalist,
his harmonica playing merits attention.

b. 26 November 1936; Chicago, IL
Jerome Arnold began playing electric bass guitar after
his brother, Billy Boy Arnold, couldn’t find any good,
steady bass players. After working with Billy Boy,
Jerome went on to play bass with some of the biggest
names in the business. He was a member of the Otis
Rush, Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters, Little Walter,
and Paul Butterfield bands, and performed with many
others. Jerome was a part of the 1968 American Folk
Blues Festival.


b. James Arnold, 15 February 1901; Lovejoys Station,
d. 8 November 1968; Chicago, IL
Kokomo Arnold was a left-handed bottleneck blues
guitarist from Georgia. He was taught by his cousin
John Wigges. Another guitarist later taught him how
to play the slide in the Hawaiian manner, with the
guitar laid flat in his lap. In 1919 he left Georgia for
Buffalo, NewYork. After a stint in Mississippi, Arnold
finally settled in Chicago in 1929. In 1930 Kokomo
made his first two recordings in Memphis as ‘‘Gitfiddle
Jim.’’ As a bootlegger Arnold found a lucrative
way of earning a living during the Prohibition era.
In 1934 he was discovered by ‘‘Kansas’’ Joe McCoy,
who persuaded Mayo Williams to record him. His first
Decca record proved to be a two-sided smash hit for
Decca. ‘‘Milk Cow Blues’’ was later recorded by ‘‘Big’’
Bill Broonzy, Amos Easton, ‘‘Sleepy’’ John Estes,
Freddie Spruell, and Josh White. Twenty years later
Elvis Presley recorded it on his third single. The flipside,
‘‘Old Original Kokomo Blues,’’ which Arnold
may have learned from the 1928 recording by Scrapper
Blackwell, was later recorded by Robert Johnson as
‘‘Sweet Home Chicago.’’ Under this title it became the
national anthem of postwar Chicago blues. Arnold
was to record a steady stream of songs for Decca
from 1934 to 1938. In 1936 and 1937 Peetie Wheatstraw
was his trusted recording partner. Besides
recording under his own name, Kokomo also accompanied
Mary Johnson, Alice Moore, Roosevelt Sykes,
Sam Theard, and Peetie Wheatstraw.
After his recording career, Arnold kept playing in
the Chicago clubs until at least 1946, after which date
he drifted off into obscurity. In 1959, when he was a
janitor at a steel mill, he was interviewed by Marcel
Chauvard and Jacques Demetre, but embittered
about his recording career he refused to enter a studio
once more. In 1968 he died at home of a heart attack.
Three-quarters of his songs are in open D, one quarter
in open G. Only ‘‘Shine on Moon’’ is in standard
tuning. His bottleneck style is less precise than Tampa
Red’s. Arnold’s style is less sophisticated and more
emotional. His aggressive playing and his original
song lyrics make him a compelling and influential artist.


b. 24 April 1944; Collins, MS
Chicago blues vocalist who has performed with the
Manuel Arrington Blues Revue and New Orleans Beau
group. A frequent performer in Chicago blues venues


b. Joseph Augustus, 13 September 1931; New
Orleans, LA
d. 9 October 1992; New Orleans, LA
R&B singer. August originally performed as a novelty
act—The Nation’s Youngest Blues Singer—while in
his teens. Recorded for Coleman and Columbia in
the late 1940s and Dot and Instant in the 1950s.
Continued performing into the early 1990s.


b. Joseph Leonard, 7 August 1948; Lafayette, LA
Zydeco accordion player and singer. Although he
went blind before he was a year old, August has had
a long and versatile career. Influences include Ray
Charles, Clifton Chenier, and Guitar Slim. Has
recorded for Black Top.


b. 21 November 1918; Yakima, WA
Blues vocalist who performed in the 1950s and 1960s
with Kid Ory and Gene Mayl’s Dixieland Rhythm
Kings. She recorded for GTJ, Contemporary, and


b. 23 March 1930; New Rochelle, NY
d. 22 March 1996; Bridgeport, CT
Blues shouter, pianist, and organist. Jesse ‘‘Wild Bill’’
Austin developed a unique ‘‘hog calling’’ vocal style as
a youngster. He first toured with Wynonie Harris at
fourteen and would later perform with his groups Soul
Plus, Different Approach, and the Jesse Austin Band.


b. Cora Calhoun, 19 September 1887; Chattanooga,
d. 10 July 1972; Chicago, IL
Pianist, arranger, and bandleader. Studied music at
Knoxville College, Tennessee, and at Roger Williams
College in Nashville, Tennessee. She toured widely,
including on the TOBA theater circuit, before settling
in Chicago. She recorded prolifically in the 1920s as a
house pianist for Paramount records, providing band
and solo accompaniments for many leading blues
singers of the era, including Ida Cox and Ma Rainey.



b. 14 December 1899; near Bellwood, TN
d. 2 July 1982; Nashville, TN
Harmonica player DeFord Bailey was the first
African American star of WSM’s famous country
music radio show, the Grand Ole Opry, and he was
one of its most celebrated performers during his
nearly fifteen years on the show. Though Bailey also
played the guitar and banjo, it was his outstanding
harmonica work that brought him fame. Dubbed the
‘‘Harmonica Wizard’’ by Opry creator George D.
Hay, Bailey was especially renowned for his remarkable
ability to imitate the sounds of trains and
animals and to create the illusion of two harmonicas
playing at once. Bailey gained a great deal of popularity
among both black and white audiences, and
although his repertoire was not strictly limited to the
blues, he did perform a number of blues pieces.
Bailey was born and raised near the small town of
Bellwood, Tennessee, in a musical family that was
steeped in what he often called ‘‘black hillbilly
music.’’ He began playing the harmonica at the age
of three, and by the time he was a teenager, he had
already begun making a living playing the instrument.
In 1918, he moved to Nashville and started performing
around the city. Bailey joined the WSM Barn Dance
radio show around June 1926, and on December 10,
1927, his performance of his best-known piece, ‘‘Pan
American Blues,’’ indirectly inspired the change of the
show’s name to the Grand Ole Opry. During his time
on the show, Bailey toured extensively with the
Opry’s other stars, and he also made eighteen recordings
(eleven of which were issued) in 1927 and 1928
for Columbia, Brunswick, and Victor.
In 1941, as a result of a conflict between radio
networks and ASCAP, the performance rights licensing
organization, WSM, and a number of other stations
boycotted ASCAP songs and demanded that
their artists develop new material. In May 1941,
Bailey’s refusal to stop performing his older pieces
resulted in his dismissal from the show, an incident
about which he remained bitter for the remainder of
his life. He went to work full time at his shoe shine
parlor in Nashville and rarely performed publicly
again until the mid-1970s, when he made a few radio
and television appearances, including a handful of
performances on the Opry.


An elusive Mississippi blues vocalist and guitarist
who flourished during the early 1920s through the
1950s, Kid Bailey is known to have recorded one
record in 1929 which included ‘‘Rowdy Blues’’ and
‘‘M & O Blues.’’ Bailey also is believed to have performed
with Charlie Patton.


b. Eleanor Rinker, 27 February 1907; Tekoa, WA
d. 12 December 1951; Poughkeepsie, NY
American jazz and pop singer of the 1920s, 1930s, and
1940s. Bailey was one of the first white singers to
successfully incorporate blues and jazz phrasing,
rhythm, and improvisation into her music. During
her career Bailey scored a number of hits as a solo
artist and as the singer for several dance orchestras
and big bands. She is also credited with discovering
famed jazz singer Billie Holiday.
Bailey began her musical career in her early teens,
playing piano for silent movies and working in a
music store as a demonstration singer. By 1925 Bailey
was the headlining act at a club in Hollywood, where
she performed pop, jazz, and vaudeville standards
of the day. She made her first recording ‘‘What
Kind O’ Man Is You’’ (1929; with Eddie Lang) and
secured a place in Paul Whiteman’s touring band
shortly thereafter. She had her own radio program
in the early 1930s and her single ‘‘Rockin’ Chair’’
(1932; written by Hoagy Carmichael) became her
signature song. Bailey married xylophonist Red
Norvo in 1933 and joined his band in 1936. The pair
became known as ‘‘Mr. and Mrs. Swing’’ and a
number of their musical collaborations reached the
charts. Bailey became a regular on Benny Goodman’s
Camel Caravan radio show and recorded several
songs with him, including ‘‘Darn That Dream’’
(1939). She performed in clubs and recorded throughout
the 1940s. She had her own radio program on
CBS from 1944 to 1945, but her failing health halted
her singing career shortly thereafter.


b. 1956; Los Angeles, CA
A well-known Los Angeles blues guitarist, Bailey has
performed with Big Joe Turner, Freddy Walker, and
Laverne Baker. Leads the Camarillo All-Stars, and
released his first album, Satan’s Horn, in 1993.


b. Etta Reid, 31 March 1913; Caldwell County, NC
Baker, considered a master guitarist of the Piedmont
style, began playing guitar at age three. She was
awarded the North Carolina Folk Heritage Award
in 1982. Baker and her sister, Cora Phillips, won the
North Carolina Folklore Society’s Brown-Hudson
Award in 1982.

b. 22 March 1943; Louisville, KY
Literary scholar Baker’s analysis of African American
literature, using blues as an interpretive matrix, has
provided an innovative vision for future students of
blues and of literature


b. Dolores Williams, 11 November 1929; Chicago, IL
d. 10 March 1997; New York City, NY
Rhythm and blues singer. Born Dolores Williams, she
sang in a Baptist church as a girl. Singer Memphis
Minnie was her aunt. Her professional career began in
Chicago in 1946 as Little Miss Sharecropper. Baker
briefly performed as Bea Baker, then settled on
LaVern Baker while with the Todd Rhodes band.
Baker signed with Atlantic in 1954 and had a
successful run of eight top ten rhythm and blues
singles for the label in the next decade, beginning
with ‘‘Tweedle-Dee’’ in 1955, and ending with ‘‘See
See Rider’’ in 1962. Pop chart hits included ‘‘Jim
Dandy’’ and ‘‘I Cried a Tear’’ in 1958.
Baker’s sassy, forthright approach established her
as a major draw in the late 1950s, and she was regularly
featured on disc jockey Alan Freed’s popular Rock ’n’
Roll Jubilee shows. She left Atlantic for Brunswick in
1963, had a modest hit with soul singer Jackie Wilson
on ‘‘Think Twice’’ in 1966. She went to Vietnam as an
entertainer, then settled in the Philippines, where she
was entertainment director at the U.S. military base
at Subic Bay. Baker returned to the United States in
1988 to perform in Atlantic Records’ 40th anniversary
celebrations. She made her Broadway debut in 1990
when she was chosen to replace Ruth Brown in the hit
musical Black and Blue after the producers heard her
LaVern Baker Sings Bessie Smith album.
Baker was elected to the Rock and Roll Hall of
Fame in 1991. Her health suffered from complications
of diabetes, including amputation of both legs
below the knee in 1995. She performed until shortly
before her death.


b. McHouston Baker, 15 October 1925; Louisville,KY
Guitarist and vocalist. He took up guitar in the early
1940s after learning trumpet and double bass. In
1947–1948 he played jazz guitar with pianist Jimmy
Neely. It was only in 1949, when he heard Pee Wee
Crayton in California, that he turned to blues. He
toured with Lester Young, Paul Williams, and Paul
Quinichette before first recording with pianist Billy
Valentine in 1951. A Savoy session in August 1952
(Riverboat, Savoy 867), split with Hal Singer, launched
his career as a blues/R&B musician accompanying
Ruth Brown, Big Joe Turner, Dinah Washington,
Ray Charles, and LaVern Baker, among many others.
His session recordings included a highly regarded
Sammy Price album (Rock My Soul, 1956, Savoy
MG14004). The duo Mickey & Sylvia with Sylvia
Vanderpool brought popular success. Love Is Strange
(1956, Groove 0175) remains affecting, if only marginally
blues, but commercial imperatives dominated
their later output. He moved to France and made
it his base for performance in both jazz and blues
contexts, including work with expatriates Champion
Jack Dupree and Memphis Slim. The Blues and Me
(1973, Black & Blue 33.507) united him with visiting
Chicago players Jimmy Rogers and Louis and Dave
Myers to good effect. He has also been an active
guitar teacher and published many tutorials. He has
at various times used the names McHouston Baker
and Big Red McHouston.

Dates and birthplace unknown
An enigma, possibly from southeast Georgia, who
played in the banjo-influenced twelve-string slideand-
strum style associated with Savannah ‘‘Dip’’
Weaver, mother of Curley Weaver, who taught
Robert and Charlie Hicks (Barbecue Bob and Charlie
Lincoln). He recorded a number of sides for Gennett
in 1929, possibly as covers of the Hicks brothers’ hits.
Other than that, he remains a mystery as does his
place as either an originator or a copyist.


b. 12 January 1941; London, England
British singer who has resided in Canada from the
mid-1970s onward. Nicknamed for his height, some
sources give east Maddon-Doveshire as Baldry’s
birthplace. A key figure in the early 1960s British
blues scene, Baldry toured with Ramblin’ Jack Elliott
from 1957 to 1961, then joined Alexis Korner’s Blues
Incorporated (heard on seminal R&B at the Marquee,
1962). He worked with Cyril Davies in a Chicago-style
blues band, then formed his own R&B-oriented
Hoochie Coochie Men. He then worked briefly with
Brian Auger, and later had several pop hits in dramatic
ballad style as a solo artist. Baldry returned to bluesrock
with It Ain’t Easy (1971). He moved to Canada,
revived his career, and became a Canadian citizen.


b. 20 March 1949; Orange, TX
Pianist and singer, Ball grew up in Vinton, a small
town in Louisiana, in a family whose female members
all played piano. She took her first piano lessons when
she was five, playing Tin Pan Alley tunes until she
discovered Irma Thomas and the blues in 1962. In
1966, she attended Louisiana State University in
Baton Rouge and played with Gum, a blues-based
rock band. After graduating, she moved to Austin in
1970 where she was a pioneer of the local R&B scene
in the early 1970s, playing the city’s clubs with Freda
and the Firedogs, a progressive country band and, at
the same time, honing her own songwriting skills.
In 1974, she launched her solo career, influenced
by Professor Longhair and Allen Toussain, releasing
a first single the following year and a country-soul
album for Capitol in 1978; she recorded a series of
six dynamic and well-received albums for Rounder
(1983–1998)—including a vocal trio with Irma
Thomas and Tracy Nelson in 1998—and one for
Antone’s (1990) with Lou Ann Barton and Angela
Strehli . She was inducted into the Austin Music Hall
of Fame in 1990, and she was featured on leading
radio and television programs.
She joined Alligator Records in 2001 and cut two
successful albums for them. In 2003, she appeared
in ‘‘Piano Blues,’’ the film directed by Clint Eastwood
in Martin Scorcese’s The Blues Series. As of 2004,
she continued to deliver her popular mixture of
Gulf Coast R&B, country swing, rock, and New
Orleans–flavored music.


b. 18 November 1927; Detroit, MI
d. 2 March 2003; Los Angeles, CA
Singer and songwriter who wrote the original version
of ‘‘The Twist,’’ but saw Chubby Checker cash in
on the big hit single with the song. Born in Detroit
(some sources give 1936 as birth year) but raised in
Alabama, his early influences included gospel, blues
and, less obviously, singing cowboy Gene Autry.
He returned to Detroit in 1951 and joined the
doo-wop group the Royals in 1953. He led the
group away from their established smooth style into
a harder, raunchier approach. They had a hit in the
R&B charts with ‘‘Get It’’ on Federal, then changed
their name to the Midnighters. Ballard spearheaded
their most successful era with his songs, which were
often unusually frank on sexual matters for that period.
Despite frequent radio bans, they had big hits
with ‘‘Work with Me Annie,’’ ‘‘Annie Had a Baby,’’
and ‘‘Sexy Ways’’ in 1954, all written by Ballard.
His most successful song of all first appeared as
the B-side of ‘‘Teardrops on Your Letter’’ in 1959.
Dick Clark of American Bandstand passed ‘‘The
Twist’’ to the unknown Chubby Checker, and the
singer scored a massive hit, considerably outselling
Ballard’s own version, also a top ten hit. The exposure
also helped yield two more top ten hits in 1960, ‘‘Finger
Poppin’ Time’’ and ‘‘Let’s Go, Let’s Go, Let’s
Go.’’ Lesser hits led to a gradual fall from notice by
the late 1960s, despite the support of soul singer James
Brown. Ballard dropped out of music in the 1970s,
then reformed the Midnighters in the mid-1980s. He
was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in
1990, and further albums appeared in 1993 and 1998.


b. 21 August 1937; Elton, LA
Guitarist on Boozoo Chavis’s influential single
‘‘Paper in My Shoe,’’ which is considered to be one
of the earliest known recordings of the zydeco style.


b. 24 October 1931; Lake Cormorant, MS
d. 16 December 2000; St. Louis, MO
A St. Louis blues guitarist, Bankhead started out with
Sonny Boy Williamson (Aleck Miller), and later
recorded for the Fedora label.


b. 1962; Chicago, IL
Learned guitar from his father, gospel musician Jesse
Banks, a member of the Mighty Clouds of Joy. By age
sixteen, Banks was appearing in Chicago clubs with
Little Johnny Christian. He has backed James Cotton
and Junior Wells, among others.

b. Houston, TX
Sacramento blues drummer, active since 1964. Banks
started out playing gospel and broke into the Sacramento
blues scene with Al Arnett in the early 1970s.

b. 28 October 1932; near Stringtown, MS
Influenced by B. B. King, the blues guitarist moved to
Chicago in 1965, meeting up with Junior Wells,
McKinley Mitchell, and Lonnie Brooks. Banks has
recorded for the Clicke label.

b. 1899; Crystal Springs, MS
Birth year has also been given as 1897. Bankston, a
blues guitarist and violinist, learned guitar from Willie
Brown and Charley Patton as a youngster. Bankston
formed a string band with his brother, Ben
Bankston, that performed at dances in the 1950s. In
the 1960s and 1970s he relayed informative details of
pre-1942 Mississippi blues to such researchers as
Gayle Wardlow and David Evans.


b. Everett LeRoi Jones, 7 October 1934; Newark, NJ
A poet, playwright, and cultural critic, Baraka was
initially a member of the Greenwich Village bohemian
scene of the late 1950s. Increasingly disillusioned with
the state of American race relations, he broke ties
with the bohemians, moving first to Harlem and
then back to Newark as he sought to articulate a
uniquely African American aesthetic. His 1963 landmark
study, Blues People: Negro Music in White
America, established his reputation as a music critic,
which his follow-up, 1967’s Black Music, later confirmed.
Appointed poet laureate of the state of New
Jersey in 2000, he remains active in the worlds of
literature and music.


b. Robert Hicks, 9 or 11 September 1902; Walnut
Grove, GA
d. 21 October 1931; Lithonia, GA
Blues singer and guitarist. Robert Hicks and his
elder brother Charlie learned to play the guitar from
Curley Weaver’s mother. Charlie became the better
singer and Bob the better guitarist. In the 1920s
Bob served spare ribs at Tidwell’s Barbecue Place in
Buckhead near Atlanta. The patrons liked him,
invited him to perform at parties, and the nickname
Barbecue Bob arose. When Columbia’s mobile unit
reached Chicago in March 1927, Bob recorded his
first songs with his resonant twelve-string guitar.
The record sold well and Bob was soon in the studio
again. He cut ‘‘Mississippi Heavy Water Blues’’ in
March 1928. The topical song was a great success
and Bob became the best-selling blues singer in the
Atlanta of the 1920s.
For the remainder of his life Bob was to record for
Columbia at six-month intervals. In 1928 Bob joined
a medicine show and toured southern Georgia. His
final session was recorded together with Curley Weaver
on guitar and Buddy Moss on harp. As the Georgia
Cotton Pickers, they delivered four powerful blues
songs in which Bob’s rhythmic strumming and easily
recognizable vocals stand out. He was so popular that
his recordings continued into the Depression, only to
be cut short by his death of pneumonia at the early
age of twenty-nine. Robert Hicks’s style is characterized
by heavy bass laps and ringing twelve-string
sounds underlined by the crying sound of the bottleneck.
His wry and witty lyrics combine many traditional
lines with original poetry. Dave Moore’s eightypage
booklet Brown Skin Gal: The Story of Barbecue
Bob, which also contains complete lyrics, became
available in a boxed album (Agram Blues AB 2001).


b. William George Tucker, 14 November 1905;
Henning, TN
d. 3 November 1964; Chicago, IL
Singer and guitarist. Had early associations with John
Lee ‘‘Sonny Boy’’ Williamson and Sunnyland Slim.
After moving to Chicago, he recorded with the Vocalion
label in 1938. Upon rediscovery by white listeners,
he recorded for the Spivey and the Storyville
labels in 1964. His participation in that year’s American
Folk Blues Festival tour was cut short by illness,
and he later died of a heart attack in a Chicago jail
while being held for a car accident.


b. Louise (or Louisa) Dupont, 13 November 1913;
New Orleans, LA
d. 7 May 1998; New Orleans, LA
Singer; wife of Danny Barker. Her maiden name was
Louise or Louisa Dupont. The stage name may have
derived from her penchant for humorous doubleentendre
in her songs, delivered in straight-faced fashion.
She was a dancer as a child, but turned to singing
in her teens. After marrying Danny Barker in 1930,
the couple relocated to New York. Her first recording
was issued in 1938, and featured one of the songs
most closely associated with her, ‘‘Don’t You Make
Me High.’’
Barker recorded twenty-one prewar sides for
Decca, collected on the Classics CD, 1938–1939, and
another twenty-five for Apollo and Capitol after the
war, also collected on Classics as 1946–1949. She had
a minor hit with ‘‘A Little Bird Told Me’’ in 1948,
which she followed with ‘‘Here’s a Little Girl.’’ All of
these recordings were made in association with her
husband, but she also recorded with Erskine Hawkins
as ‘‘Lu Blue’’ in 1938.
Barker returned to live in New Orleans in 1965.
She was a powerful singer, but a reluctant and therefore
only sporadic performer in public throughout
her career. She began to be featured more regularly
in festivals in the early 1980s, where she was regarded
as a valued representative of a waning generation of
New Orleans musicians. Ill health meant that she did
not perform at all in the final decade of her life. Her
last concert appearance with her husband was at the
New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival in 1989, and
it is preserved on record.


b. Daniel Moses Barker, 13 January 1909; New
Orleans, LA
d. 13 March 1994; New Orleans, LA
Singer, writer, and historian; married to Blue Lu Barker.
Barker played banjo with Little Brother Montgomery
in the early 1920s and rhythm guitar with Lucky
Millinder, Cab Calloway, Billie Holiday, and others.
He was central in the modern revival of New Orleans
marching bands. In later life he was a valuable informant
to historians of various periods of jazz and blues.


b. 28 April 1910; Detroit, MI
d. 29 January 1986; Los Angeles, CA
Jazz and urban blues guitarist who also was proficient
on other instruments. Played rhythm acoustic guitar
for Erskine Tate, Eddie South, and Benny Carter. For
the most part, he was based in Chicago in the 1930s,
in New York City from the 1940s through the 1960s,
and in California from the 1970s onward.

b. 1900; near Selma, AL
Big-voiced Alabama railroad worker who recorded
two songs for Gennett in 1927 and performed with a
local string band until the 1930s. Barner’s singing was
‘‘untutored and relentless’’ wrote collector Don Kent,
who reported that Barner was alive as of 1973.

b. 17 July 1921; Chicago Heights, IL
d. 5 September 1977; Concord, CA
Guitarist. After winning a Tommy Dorsey amateur
swing contest in 1937, Barnes took several opportunities
to back several Bluebird label musicians during
recording sessions, including Big Bill Broonzy, Jazz
Gillum, and Washboard Sam. From the 1940s until
his death, he increasingly worked with jazz musicians,
and in radio and television session work.


b. 25 September 1936; Longwood, MS
d. 3 April 1996; Chicago, IL
Roosevelt ‘‘Booba’’ Barnes learned harmonica as a
child, having been inspired early on by Howlin’ Wolf.
Barnes moved to Greenville, Mississippi, in his teens
and developed his raw style in the tough jukes on
Nelson Street. By 1960, he taught himself guitar and
spent years playing throughout the region. After
several brief stints in Chicago, Barnes opened his
Playboy Club back on Nelson Street in 1982 and
established himself as the Delta’s most popular bluesman.
His 1990 Rooster label debut launched his international
career, and he appeared in the 1992 film
Deep Blues. Barnes later relocated to Chicago, but his
life was cut short by cancer in 1996.

Record label (Illinois, 1974–1983). Owner: George
Paulus (b. April 23, 1948; Chicago, IL). Chicago
based, Barrelhouse issued albums by Joe Carter,
Easy Baby (Alex Randle), ‘‘Harmonica’’ Frank Floyd,
Bob Hall, Blind Joe Hill, Robert Richards, Washboard
Willie (Hensley), and Big JohnWrencher.Afewvarious
artist collections were issued, including one from Ora
Nelle acetates (Othum Brown, Sleepy John Estes,
Little Walter, Jimmy Rogers, Johnny Young), and
one with J-V-B acetates (Eddie Burns, L. C. Green,
and others). The 1974 album Bring Me Another
Half-a-Pint contained recordings by Billy Branch,
Kansas City Red (Arthur Stevenson), Earl Payton,
and others.


b. 24 December 1920; Edgard, LA
Born into a musical family, Bartholomew (aka The Pit
Man) began his career as a trumpet player and joined a
brass band after leaving school, then graduated to
the better paid jazz bands popular in New Orleans in
the late 1930s. He joined the army during World War
II and learned composition and musical arrangement.
Back in New Orleans in 1946, he formed his own jazz
band and was soon broadcasting over radio station
WMRY. He was signed by De Luxe Records in 1947,
recording four singles, but following some dissensions
with De Luxe’s management, he recorded also for
Decca and King before joining Lew Chudd’s Imperial
label in 1950 as an arranger, songwriter, and recording
artist until he formed his own labels, Trumpet and
Broadmoor, in the mid-1960s.
In 1952, Bartholomew and his band cut an incognito
session for Specialty released as by ‘‘The Royal
Kings.’’ He’s remembered largely today not only for
being Fats Domino’s longtime bandleader, arranger,
and trumpet player, with a dream team (Earl Palmer,
Red Tyler, Herb Hardesty, and others) producing and
writing most of Domino’s classic hits and chart toppers,
but also for his major role in nearly all of the
early New Orleans R&B sessions recorded in the
1950s and 1960s, while conducting his own recording
career until 1967, even if he is credited with one hit
only, ‘‘Country Boy’’ (1949).
Bartholomew was inducted into the Rock and
Roll Hall of Fame in 1991. As an early influence of
rock ’n’ roll, he can be found these days leading the
Dixieland jazz band at Preservation Hall when not
accompanying Fats Domino on tours.


b. 17 February 1954; Fort Worth, TX
Singer. The quintessential Texas female blues vocalist,
Barton combined a tough stage image with a sultry
singing style delivered with a thick drawl and a nononsense
attitude. Although musically involved with
the leading Texas rocking blues acts of her time,
Barton’s most accomplished work was on swampflavored
R&B from Louisiana, especially on the
songs of Lazy Lester, Slim Harpo, and Irma Thomas.
Her debut album, Old Enough, was recorded at the
Muscle Shoals studio in 1982 with rock star Glenn
Frey and Atlantic Records president Jerry Wexler
coproducing and guitarist Jimmie Vaughan providing
a link to her Texas past and future. Barton did not
record again until 1986 when Forbidden Tones was
The strong-willed Barton was destined to lead her
own band but she first attempted to front other
groups, beginning with the Austin all-star collaboration
Triple Threat Revue with Stevie Ray Vaughan
and W. C. Clark. Brief stints with fellow Austinites
the Fabulous Thunderbirds and the Rhode Island big
band Roomful of Blues followed before she finally
began fronting her own groups.
Barton released Read My Lips in 1989 and a year
later teamed up with Angela Strehli and Marcia
Ball for the blues girls group project Dreams Come
True produced by Dr. John for Antone’s Records.
Beginning in the late 1990s Barton recorded and performed
with the Jimmie Vaughan Band. She released
Sugar Coated Love in 1998 and in 2001 a bootleg
quality import of her performing with Stevie Ray
Vaughan in 1977 was released as Thunderbroad.


b. 12 February 1912; Birmingham, AL
d. December 1986; Chicago, IL
Saxophonist in early jazz and urban blues bands
through 1944, including those led by Erskine Hawkins
and by Count Basie. Afterward he led his own groups,
or worked with his brother Dud Bascomb.


b. William Basie, 21 August 1904; Red Bank, NJ
d. 26 April 1984; Hollywood, FL
Bandleader and pianist; led the ‘‘Band That Plays
the Blues,’’ one of the most popular big bands. Basie
began his career working as accompanist to vaudeville
blues singers and entertainers in traveling
shows, including Katie Crippen and the Whitman
Sisters. Worked primarily on the Southwest ‘‘territory
band’’ circuit from 1927, chiefly in Kansas City; with
bassist Walter Page’s Blue Devils in 1928; then with
Bennie Moten for most of 1929 through 1935.
Basie rose to prominence as a bandleader in 1936,
gaining an audience via radio broadcasts from
Kansas City. Residencies at Chicago’s Grand Terrace
and New York’s Roseland followed. The band was
rich in great bluesy soloists, including Lester Young
on tenor saxophone and Buck Clayton on trumpet.
The ‘‘All-American Rhythm Section’’ (Basie, bassist
Page, guitarist Freddie Green, and drummer Jo
Jones) anchored the band with a light, bluesy swing
that was irresistible to dancers. Many of their pieces
featured a blues-based four-beat walking bass
pattern. Fronting the band were several fine jazz singers.
Most important, from a blues perspective, was
Jimmy Rushing, whose recordings with the band are
among the greatest big band blues records. Among
these are the immortal ‘‘Sent for You Yesterday’’
Basie remained active through the 1970s. His
1950s–1960s band, which played in a harder edged
style, never lost its bluesy swing. In the 1950s the band
featured Joe Williams, with his signature song
‘‘Everyday I Have the Blues’’ (recorded 1955).


b. 3 July 1940; St. Louis, MO
Soul singer who achieved national fame recording for
Chicago’s Chess Records during the 1960s. She was
the daughter of notable gospel singer Martha Bass (a
member of the Clara Ward Singers and a soloist of
some note). In 1961, Fontella was discovered by St.
Louis bandleader Oliver Sain, who brought her into
his organization to play piano. Little Milton was the
band’s initial vocalist, and Bass participated on several
sides that Milton recorded for the local Bobbin label.
She subsequently recorded four sides under her own
name for Bobbin. In 1963, after Little Milton left the
Sain band, Bass and singer Bernard Mosley became
the featured vocalists. Mosley was soon replaced by
Bobby McClure. The following year Chess Records
signed Bass and McClure to record for its Checker
subsidiary in Chicago. They debuted as a duet act,
coming out with two hits, ‘‘Don’t Mess Up a Good
Thing’’ and ‘‘You’ll Miss Me (When I’m Gone)’’ in
1965. Bass launched her solo career in 1965 with a huge
hit, ‘‘Rescue Me.’’ The flip featured an outstanding
gospel-blues ballad, ‘‘The Soul of a Man.’’ Bass’s
career at Chess was gradually dissipated by a series
of undistinguished but three commercially successful
follow-ups, ‘‘Recovery,’’ ‘‘I Surrender,’’ and ‘‘Safe and
Bass left Chess in 1967, and recorded for Jerry
Butler’s Fountain Productions, then moved to Stan
Lewis’s Paula label, recording under the production
aegis of her old bandleader, Oliver Sain, and then for
Epic. Bass never had another hit record. Occasionally
she appeared as a vocalist on jazz albums recorded by
her husband, Lester Bowie, trumpeter in the famed
Art Ensemble of Chicago.


b. 9 October 1935; Marianna, FL
Heard Tampa Red and Big Boy Crudup at house
parties in his youth; family moved to Detroit in
1944. Bassett started playing guitar and harmonica
as a teen and studied clarinet in high school. His
early experience was with John Lee Hooker. He
spent two years in the U.S. Army from 1958 to
1960. Bassett was a member of Joe Weaver and his
Blue Note Orchestra, the house band for Fortune
records. Bassett played on many doo-wop and R&B
sessions. Bassett’s sound is reminiscent of T-Bone
Walker, an early inspiration; he has a world-weary
vocal style and sound.


b. 1938; United Kingdom
British researcher and label owner Bruce Bastin began
making regular research and recording trips through
the southeastern United States in the late 1960s, often
together with Peter Lowry. His findings were presented
in Blues Unlimited magazine and Crying for
the Carolines (London: Studio Vista Press, 1971),
later expanded into the authoritative Red River
Blues: The Blues Tradition of the Southeast (University
of Illinois Press, 1986). In 1973 Bastin received a
master’s degree in folklore studies from the University
of North Carolina in Chapel Hill and staged the first
blues festival in the region. Bastin joined Flyright
Records in 1970—other partners were Robin Gosden
and Blues Unlimited editors Mike Leadbitter, John
Broven, and Simon Napier—and eventually became
the managing director of Flyright’s parent company,
Interstate Music, Ltd. In 1978 Bastin wrote that
Flyright’s mission was to ‘‘rectify the imbalance
shown by the undue concentration on Mississippi
blues by previous writers and record reissuers.
Flyright’s general focus became directed toward a
conscious regionalism in an attempt to offer evidence
of a broader pattern of blues evolution.’’ This focus
resulted in series on prewar and postwar East Coast
blues, contemporary field recordings, the fifty-fivevolume
‘‘legendary Jay Miller sessions’’ of previously
unissued blues, cajun, and zydeco, and recordings
made by independent record man Joe Davis, the
subject of Bastin’s book Never Sell a Copyright
(Chigwell: Storyville, 1990). Other Interstate labels
have concentrated on piano blues (Magpie), prewar
field recordings/commercial blues (Travelin’ Man),
country/rockabilly (Krazy Kat, Country Routes),
‘‘world’’ music (Heritage), and jazz (Harlequin).


b. William Bates, 9 March 1920; Leighton, AL
Chicago jazz and blues guitarist who worked both as
a performer and a session man, largely during the
1940s and 1950s. Bates entered the music business in
St. Louis, joining a string band/vocal group called
the Hi-De-Ho Boys. The Hi-De-Ho Boys moved to
Chicago in 1936, recorded on Decca, and became a
semiregular act at the Club DeLisa from 1937 to 1950.
After World War II, Bates recorded with the Aristo-
Kats on RCA-Victor. When the group broke up in
1948, Bates rejoined the Hi-De-Ho Boys. In 1952
Bates formed a trio with Quinn Wilson (bass) and
Horace Palm (piano), and through much of the decade
continued with this group. Bates recorded minimally
under his own name, singles on Boxer, United,
Apex, and Mad. None of the sides achieved any kind
of traction, but it did not matter, Bates earned his
money in club gigs and as the most in-demand guitar
player for recording a host of blues and rhythm and
blues sessions, especially for Vee-Jay, but also for
such small labels as Club 51 and Mad.

b. 24 January 1904; Michigan City, MS
d. 18 February 1956; Memphis, TN
Fiddler. Moved to Memphis in 1919, performing and
later recording with Jack Kelly. He also recorded with
Frank Stokes in 1929. From 1934, he led his own jug
bands and other types of acoustic instrument groups
in the Memphis area.


b. Lottie Kimbrough, 1900; Kansas City, MO
Sister of Sylvester Kimbrough. A singer during the
‘‘classic blues’’ era, Beaman was active mostly in local
Kansas City clubs. She recorded with the Paramount
label in 1924, the Merrit label in 1925, the Gennett
label in 1928, and the Brunswick label in 1929.


b. 29 August 1957; Rochester, NY
Beard learned guitar from his father Joe Beard, and in
his teens played soul and rock in local bands, also
filling in with the R&B group the New York Players.
Later he played in R&B groups in the same Rochester
venues where his father played blues. Sidetracked by
personal difficulties in the 1980s, when Beard took up
music again in 1991, it was blues. In 1998 he recorded
Barwalkin’ produced by Johnny Rawls, and followed
in 2002 with Born to Play the Blues. Live Wire on his
own label in 2004 marked a new departure for Beard,
combining blues with rock and soul material. Beard
tours the entire country, most often the East, Midwest,
and South. Major influences (besides his father)
are Albert King and Johnny ‘‘Guitar’’ Watson.


b. 4 February 1938, Ashland, MS
Beard grew up in Ashland, where Nathan Beauregard
often lived with his family, and the Murphy brothers,
Matt, Floyd, and Dan, were close friends. Beard’s
family moved to Memphis in the late 1940s, and
Beard came to know many of the most important
musicians then making music in that city: B. B.
King, Howlin’ Wolf, and others. In the late 1950s
Beard moved to Rochester and began playing
blues in local clubs. His neighbor in Rochester in the
mid-1960s was Son House. John Mooney got a start
in Beard’s band, and met House through Beard.
Beard’s work as an electrician has kept him from
regular touring, but he has played all over the United
States and Europe—first recording with Buster Benton
in 1981 in France. In the 1990s he made three
well-received CDs. Important influences are John Lee
Hooker and Lightnin’ Hopkins, but Beard’s style also
shows the influence of Mississippi legends like Nathan


b. 30 September 1929; Kansas City, MO
Vocalist and pianist in the urban jump style. Beasley
made his classic records for the labels Modern and
Crown in 1956 and 1957.


b. ca.1869; Ashland, MS
d. ca. 1970; Memphis, TN
Singer of black folk music and blues, although his
recorded blues tend to be similar to commercial
blues of the 1930s. Guitarist Joe Beard recalls Beauregard
in Ashland in the 1940s. Before his death, he
was recorded by the Arhoolie and Adelphi labels.


b. 11 September 1940; Hurdle Farm (near Holly
Springs), MS
Born and raised in the north Mississippi hill country,
singer/guitarist Robert Belfour began playing music
as a boy, initially influenced by his musician father
and later by childhood friend Junior Kimbrough.
Belfour soaked up the region’s unique blues tradition
and developed his powerful, hypnotic style playing
area juke joints. His first full-length album was released
on Fat Possum in 2000.


b. 30 October 1953; Newport News, VA
d. 17 September 1988; Staten Island, NY
NewYork–based blues vocalist of the late 1970s and
1980s. Bell launched her music career in 1976 by
arranging a meeting with famed blues singer Victoria
Spivey at her home studio in Brooklyn. After gaining
admittance to Spivey’s apartment through a friend
living in the building, Bell—accompanied by Wade
Hampton Green on piano—‘‘auditioned’’ for Spivey
by singing a few songs. As a result, Spivey took Bell
under her wing by preparing her for her first live
performance, giving her lessons to improve her vocal
style and delivery and introducing her to blues musicians
in the New York area. Spivey died only months
after their first meeting but she forever altered Bell’s
musical career. Bell appeared at Spivey tribute
concerts at the Dan Lynch Club in New York City
and at the Chelsea House Folklore Center in West
Brattleboro, Vermont, throughout the late 1970s and
1980s, continued to perform with musicians she had
met through Spivey, and released all of her own
recordings on the Spivey label.
In 1977 Bell began hosting blues recording parties
at her own apartment. Bell regularly appeared in blues
clubs throughout the New York area, performing with
artists Memphis Slim, Louisiana Red, Bill Dicey,
Uncle Boogie and the Holmes Brothers, and
‘‘Screamin’ ’’ Jay Hawkins. Bell also performed with
Muddy Waters in Chicago and toured Europe in the
late 1970s, performing with artists such as ‘‘Champion’’
Jack Dupree, Willie Mabon, Al Jones, Sonny
Rhodes, Monte Sunshine, and Piano Red.
Bell first appeared on a recording as a supporting
vocalist for Joe Turner’s album I’m Gonna Sit Right
Down and Write Myself a Letter (1978). She also
appeared as a guest artist on the album New York
Really Has the ‘‘Blues Stars’’ Vol. 2 (1980), performed
with Louisiana Red on the recording The Imagery of
Louisiana Red and Brenda Bell (1980), and released
Brenda Bell and the 9th Street Stompers (1980). Bell
also produced two solo albums—Brenda Bell Sings
the Blues of Victoria Spivey (1980) and Brenda Bell:
Ain’t Nobody’s Business What Brenda Bell May Do!
(1984)—but her career was cut short by her death of
cancer at age thirty-four.


b. Carey Bell Harrington, 14 November 1936; Macon,
Considered one of the finest living exponents of the
Southern-born, Chicago-schooled tradition of heavily
amplified blues harmonica epitomized by Little
Walter Jacobs and Big Walter Horton, both of
whom Bell knew personally and learned from. Until
moving to Chicago in 1956 or 1957, Bell lived in the
Mississippi hill country, near the Alabama border,
cutting his musical teeth in Meridian, Mississippi,
under the nurturing eye of an older musician, pianist
Lovie Lee, who became his surrogate father. In
Chicago, harp gigs proved scarce, despite tutoring
from the two Walters and musical partnerships with
guitarists Honeyboy Edwards and Johnny Young, so
he often played bass guitar behind Robert Nighthawk,
Earl Hooker, Big Walter, and others, in clubs
and on Maxwell Street. In 1969, he came into his own with a debut LP on
Delmark, followed by a session for ABC BluesWay.
A brief early 1970s stint in the harp chair of the
Muddy Waters band (appearing on Waters’s London
Sessions) was followed by a longer stretch with Willie
Dixon’s Blues All-Stars, introducing his diatonic
and chromatic harp skills to a worldwide audience.
Since then, Bell waxed numerous albums for Blind
Pig, Rooster, JSP, and Alligator, some produced in a
cranked-up contemporary blues style. From the 1980s
onward, he worked primarily as frontman, often
backed by Maryland-based guitarist Steve Jacobs.
Bell’s live performances are memorable not only for
his thick-toned, room-filling harp but also for his
extroverted manner and large, drooping eyes. Full
name often cited as Carey Bell Harrington (after his
mother); cousin of guitarist Eddie ‘‘Clearwater’’
Harrington. Son, guitarist Lurrie Bell, is active in
blues; they have recorded together.

b. 19 February 1914; Hernando, MS
d. July 1977, Memphis, TN
Guitarist. Worked very closely with Marshall
‘‘Memphis Sonny Boy’’ Jones.


b. ca. 1905; Lowndes County, AL
d. Early 1960s; Greenville, AL
Singer and guitarist. Probably the same artist as
Barefoot Bill and Sluefoot Joe who together recorded
thirty superb blues between 1927 and 1930. Gave up
secular music to become a preacher in Greenville.

b. 29 August 1910; Peoria, IL
d. 31 December 1987; Peoria, IL
First name sometimes spelled ‘‘Jimmy.’’ Pianist active
in St. Louis in the 1930s, then around Illinois from the
1940s onward. He recorded in 1948 for Aristocrat.
Later life was hampered by prison terms for various
crimes, but his 1978 piano appearance at Illinois
Central College was released in 1979 by JSP Records.


b. 13 December 1958; Chicago, IL
The son of Carey Bell, Lurrie Bell started playing
guitar as a child, inspired by Eddie Taylor, B. B.
King, and Magic Sam. Bell recorded behind artists
such as his father and Eddie C. Campbell while in his
teens, and formed the Sons of Blues in the late 1970s
with Billy Branch. After a stint in Koko Taylor’s
band, he spent much of the 1980s recording and
touring with his father. Despite personal problems,
he recorded several critically acclaimed releases for
Delmark in the mid- to late 1990s. With his highly
original guitar playing and impassioned vocals, Bell
established himself as one of the strongest talents on
the Chicago blues scene.

BELL, T. D.:

b. Tyler Dee Bell, 22 or 26 December 1922; Lee
County, TX
d. 9 January 1999; Austin, TX
Guitarist, singer. A T-Bone Walker disciple, Tyler
Dee ‘‘T. D.’’ Bell was a dominant figure in the post–
World War II Austin blues scene. His band, the
Cadillacs, featuring pianist Erbie Bowser, had its
first success playing for west Texas oil field workers
in the late 1940s. Bell brought the band back to
Austin in the early 1950s. In 1992 Bell, with Bowser
on piano and prote´ge´ W. C. Clark on bass, released
his only album, Its About Time, on the Black Magic
label. In the wake of the album Bell and Bowser had a
late career resurgence, performing regularly in Austin
as the Blues Specialists.


b. 16 September 1926; Chicago, IL
d. 13 August 1988; Chicago, IL
Pioneering postwar Chicago blues drummer Fred
Below developed an interest in music while attending
Du Sable High, a school famous for the number of
jazz musicians that it produced. Below joined the
school band at age sixteen and, after a failed attempt
with the trombone, took up the drums. Influenced
by Gene Krupa, Chick Webb, and Buddy Rich, Below
decided on a career as a jazz drummer. After graduation,
he was drafted into the army and served two years
overseas, where he met and played with jazz saxophonist
Lester Young. Below was discharged in 1946 and
he continued his musical education at Chicago’s Roy
C. Knapp School of Percussion, where he took an advanced
drumming course. On graduation, he reenlisted
in the army and played in a bebop band as well as with
the 427th Army Band throughout Germany.
After being released from the military in 1951, he
returned to Chicago only to find little work available in
the declining local jazz scene. On the advice of blues
drummer and friend Elgin Edmonds, Below accepted
an offer to join the Aces (formerly the Three Aces), a
young blues band consisting of guitarist brothers
Louis and David Myers and harmonica player Junior
Wells. Although he initially found it very difficult to
adapt his studied jazz expertise to the rough, unschooled
sound of early 1950s Chicago blues, Below
persisted with the band and rapidly developed a swinging,
jazz-inflected drumming style that would soon help
transform the very sound of postwar Chicago blues.
After the star-making success of his hit single
‘‘Juke’’ in 1952, Little Walter left his position as
Muddy Waters’s harmonica player to lead the Aces,
and Wells replaced Walter in Waters’s band. Below
continued to tour nationally with Little Walter and
to record for Chess Records (issued by Chess subsidiary
Checker) during the next several years. Below’s
driving backbeat rhythms, inventive use of the ride
cymbal, and creative punctuating fills elevated Little
Walter’s music to even higher levels and Below’s
refined style became the model for future blues drummers.
His distinctive playing also established him as
an in-demand session musician, and he appeared on
hundreds of recordings throughout the 1950s and
1960s, including those by Muddy Waters, Elmore
James, Otis Rush, Sonny Boy Williamson II, J. B.
Lenoir, John Brim, Chuck Berry, and Bo Diddley.
Classic recordings like Waters’s ‘‘Hoochie Coochie
Man,’’ Williamson’s ‘‘Don’t Start Me Talkin’,’’ and
Berry’s ‘‘Johnny B. Goode’’ all benefited from Below’s
signature drumming. In 1955, Below left Little Walter
and spent the next decade playing with a variety of
musicians, including Memphis Slim, Buddy Guy,
Robert Jr. Lockwood, and John Lee Hooker. He was
the house drummer for Chess Records for many years,
and recorded for other labels throughout the next few
decades including Vee-Jay, Cobra, Delmark, and Testament.
He performed in Europe in 1965 as part of the
American Folk Blues Festival and continued to tour
and record worldwide, occasionally reuniting with the
Aces. Fred Below died of a heart attack in Chicago at
age sixty-one.

b. 11 December 1918; Birmingham, AL
d. 24 January 1993; Chicago, IL
LaMarr Chatmon Below came to Chicago at the age
of eleven and early in life was drawn to the city’s lively
jazz and blues scene. She was married to Memphis
Slim (Peter Chatman) for a time, and is said to have
had a relationship with Little Walter Jacobs. Later in
life she married drummer Fred Below, from whom
she was widowed. An avid club-goer and bon vivant,
LaMarr Below enjoyed giving encouragement to
musicians and was an intelligent and wry commentator
on the Chicago music scene with which she
remained involved all her life.

Jesse, Belvin:

b. 15 December 1932; San Antonio, TX
d. 6 February 1960; Little Rock, AR
Singer, pianist, and composer. A prolific composer
whose songs, covered by everyone from Dave Brubeck
to Gladys Knight, transcended blues, Belvin had
only a few years in the spotlight but he made the most
of them. His fame, however, was not proportional
to his musical creativity since he rarely received the
recognition his songs’ success deserved due to his
practice of selling his compositions outright.
Belvin’s family moved to Los Angeles when he was
five and he was singing in church two years later. His
professional career began in earnest when he joined
Big Jay McNeely’s backing vocal group, Three Dots
and a Dash, in 1950. He formed a band, the Shields,
with Johnny ‘‘Guitar’’ Watson but it did not meet with
much success. A series of singles recorded with Marvin
Phillips did better as ‘‘Dream Girl’’ reached #2 on the
R&B charts in 1953. After Belvin was drafted he wrote
‘‘Earth Angel’’ on leave and it became a million-seller
for the Penguins and one of the first racial crossover hits.
Belvin began recording for Modern Records in 1956
with some of his songs being credited to the Cliques.
‘‘Goodnight My Love,’’ a top ten hit in 1956 recorded
with eleven-year-old Barry White on keyboards,
received the most exposure when it was used as rock
deejay/promoter Alan Freed’s outro theme. He then
signed to RCA, recording several hit singles and the
Just Jesse Belvin album. He began work in 1959 on a
project using West Coast jazz greats such as Art Pepper
but never finished the album. Belvin and manager
wife Jo Anne died in an auto collision after a concert
tour date with Sam Cooke and Jackie Wilson.


b. D. C. Bendy, 19 June 1919; Arbala (or Arbana), TX
Singer and guitarist. Began performing in the mid-1930s,
traveling around east Texas and Louisiana. In the 1940s
he settled in Houston. Recorded with the Gold Star
label in 1948, and with the Elko label in 1953. A
trademark trick was to sing and drink beer at the
same time. He reportedly died sometime in the 1980s.


b. Rayford, NC
Guitarist active in Philadelphia in the 1960s and
1970s, with recordings made between 1962 and 1965.


b. 23 September 1946; England
d. 26 March 1976; Warwickshire, England
A British singer and session harmonica musician, who
also played guitar and drums. A member of John
Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, he made several solo albums
for the Blue Horizon label, including Smiling Like I’m
Happy (1968) with members of Fleetwood Mac. His
life was cut short by an auto accident.


b. 13 December 1933; Sulphur, OK
d. 28 November 1992; New Orleans, LA
Guitarist. A master of elegant, yet forceful, minimalism,
Bennett was one of the most in-demand session
guitarists of his time. He had a multitude of noteworthy
recording credits but it was his work with
Bobby ‘‘Blue’’ Bland in the 1960s that became his
best-known and most enduring contributions to the
blues. Bennett, who also played in Bland’s touring
band, was heard to best advantage on the singer’s
signature ballads, but he was equally adept on uptempo
tunes like ‘‘Turn on Your Love Light,’’
Bland’s biggest commercial success.
Bennett had established himself as a session star at
Cobra Records in the late 1950s, working alongside
Willie Dixon and playing with Otis Rush on ‘‘I Can’t
Quit You Baby,’’ as well as backing Shakey Horton,
Betty Everett, and others. Bennett began the 1960s with
work on Bland’s classic singles, including ‘‘Cry, Cry,
Cry,’’ ‘‘I Pity the Fool.’’ and ‘‘Don’t Cry No More.’’
Other highlights of his 1960s session contributions
included work with Jimmy Reed and John Lee Hooker,
in addition to two albums, one a live recording, with
Buddy Guy in 1968.
The 1970s, which found him branching out with a
soul/jazz session with organist Jimmy McGriff, were
slower but Bennett recorded with New Orleans vocalist
Johnny Adams and Texas guitarist Zuzu Bollin in
the 1980s and also performed with Ron Levy’s Wild
Kingdom and played on a live ‘‘Mighty’’ Sam
McCain album in Japan in 1988. Bennett worked
steadily until the end of his career, recording in New
Orleans with Champion Jack Dupree in 1990 and
playing on sessions with James Cotton and Jimmy
McCracklin just months before his death.


b. 17 November 1967; Baton Rouge, LA
Louisiana-based guitarist and vocalist plays an accessible
style of swamp blues with crossover appeal to
rock audiences. Issued first national recordings in the
early 1990s, and has stayed visible since with a heavy
touring schedule and participation in recording collaborations
with Kenny Neal, Debbie Davies, and Jimmy

b. Arthur Leaner, 30 June 1908
d. 6 September 1978; Three Oaks, MI
Chicago radio disk jockey and record company
owner. Benson dominated Chicago’s black radio market
as the principal black deejay at WGES from 1945
to 1962. He was the first deejay in Chicago to play the
deep Southern-style blues, and built a huge audience,
many of whom were migrants from the South. Benson
also operated several record labels. During 1949 to
1950, he headed A&R for Ole Swing-Master (a label
named for Benson’s moniker, but owned by Egmont
Sonderling), releasing records on T. Bone Walker,
Snooky and Moody, Floyd Jones, and on his own
band. From 1953 to 1956, he operated the Parrot/
Blue Lake complex, which recorded blues artists
such as Willie Mabon, Curtis Jones, John Brim,
J. B. Lenoir, Sunnyland Slim, and Joe Williams, as
well as a plethora of vocal groups and jazz artists.
From 1965 to 1968 he owned the Crash label (plus
subsidiary imprints of Mica and Glowstar), notably
recording bluesman Magic Sam and deep soul singer
Jimmy Dobbins. During the 1960s Benson worked as
a deejay on a variety of stations.


b. 12 August 1907; Philadelphia, PA
d. 18 January 1960; Los Angeles, CA
Flamboyant blues singer and pianist most active in
1920s Harlem. Performed in tuxedo and top hat,
accompanying herself on piano and alternating her
powerful alto with trumpet-like scat singing.
Recorded eight titles for OKeh Records in 1928, a
side with the Washboard Serenaders for Victor, five
discs for Excelsior in 1945, and a Flame label single
in the 1950s. Appeared in Los Angeles and San
Francisco after 1937. Mentioned by several Harlem
Renaissance novelists including Langston Hughes.
Recent attention to her career has come through
rerelease of her recordings on various contemporary
labels and writings by Eric Garber.


b. Benjamin Franklin Peay, 19 September 1931;
Camden, SC
d. 9 April 1988; New York, NY
Singer. The silky smooth-sounding Benton graduated
from early gospel work to become a crossover R&B
star via duets with Dinah Washington, including the
1960 hit ‘‘A Rockin Good Way,’’ as well as on his
own with ‘‘Rainy Night in Georgia’’ and others.


b. Ollie Benton, 19 July 1932; Texarkana, AR
d. 20 January 1996; Chicago, IL
Benton sang in a gospel choir as a youth and was
an avid blues fan. Inspired by a B. B. King performance
in the late 1940s, Benton purchased his
first guitar at age twenty-three and taught himself to
play. Instead of relying on music as a profession,
Benton worked as an auto mechanic by day and
played blues at night until an accident in 1983 took
his left leg.
Benton moved from Arkansas to Toledo, Ohio, in
1952. During this time he worked with harmonica
player Little Walter Mitchell. Benton’s first break
came when he played with John Lee Hooker at the
Hines Farm in Swanton, Ohio. Benton relocated to
Chicago in 1959 and recorded singles with several
record companies, including Sonic, Alteen, Twinight,
and Melloway. In 1971 Benton opened the Stardust
Lounge on Chicago’s South Side. While performing
in his club, Benton caught the ear of Muddy Waters,
who then hired him to play lead guitar for Dixon’s
Chicago Blues All-Stars. Benton remained with the
group through 1975 and played on the album The All
Star Blues World of Maestro Willie Dixon (Spivey).
Benton’s solo career began in 1979 with the release
of the album Spider in My Stew (Ronn). Numerous
albums followed on various labels, including the
W. C. Handy Award winner Blues at the Top (1985,
Blue Phoenix). Benton’s active performance schedule
of the 1980s lessened in the 1990s due to health


b. Charles Edward Anderson Berry, 18 October 1926;
St. Louis, MO
Birthplace also cited as San Jose, California. Chuck
Berry grew up in St. Louis, where he was surrounded
and influenced by the blues, R&B, country music, and
church music. After careers as a factory worker at
the St. Louis General Motors Plant and as a cosmetologist,
Berry formed his first band in 1952. The
trio featured Berry on guitar and vocals, Johnny
Johnson on piano, and Ebby Harding on drums.
Within a couple of years, the trio had become a
regular in the St. Louis club scene. After meeting
Berry, Muddy Waters encouraged him to audition
for Chess Records.
In 1955 Chess Records produced Berry’s first single,
which was a version of the country song ‘‘Ida
Red,’’ popularized earlier by Bob Wills and the
Texas Playboys. The song was modified by Leonard
Chess, renamed ‘‘Maybeline,’’ and coupled with the
blues classic ‘‘Wee Wee Hours.’’ Promoted by Alan
Freed, who in return was listed as the coauthor, the
song went to number five on the pop charts and
number one on the R&B charts. The song illustrates
Berry’s amalgamated form of blues and country
that served as a bridge between the blues and rock
’n’ roll, and it exemplifies a guitar style that became
a defining feature of rock ’n’ roll. Following the success
of ‘‘Maybeline,’’ Berry continued to produce
chart-topping singles, including ‘‘School Days,’’
‘‘Roll Over Beethoven,’’ and ‘‘Johnny B. Good,’’ for
the remainder of the decade.
In 1959, Berry was accused of violating the Mann
Act for his association with and employment of a
fourteen-year-old prostitute. After two trials, Berry
was convicted in 1962 and spent the next two years
in prison. By the end of the 1960s, Berry’s popularity
and record sales began to decline. Berry achieved a
successful comeback in 1972 with the single ‘‘My
Ding a Ling,’’ a humorous song that was his first
and only number one song on the pop charts. Berry’s
contribution to the development of rock ’n’ roll is
heard in his guitar technique and in his mixture of
previous styles into a music that was appealing to
all audiences. His influence on later musicians is evident
from the many covers of his songs performed
and recorded by bands including the Rolling Stones
and the Beatles, and from the adoption of his guitar
technique by many following guitarists.
Berry was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of
Fame in January 1986. He was awarded the Lifetime
Achievement Award at the twenty-seventh annual
Grammy Awards during the same year. In 2000,
Berry was awarded the Kennedy Center Honors
Award. Chuck Berry continues to play live concerts
at venues around the world.


b. 11 April 1935; Extension, LA
d. 23 January 1997; Los Angeles, CA
Richard Berry was the writer and original performer
of ‘‘Louie Louie,’’ as well as of the notable ‘‘Have
Love, Will Travel.’’ Born near New Orleans, Berry
moved a year later to Los Angeles and began to engage
in the city’s record business while still in high school.
Along with a group of classmates, he constituted the
vocal group the Flairs, which was signed to the Bihari
Brothers’ Modern Records. In 1955, their single ‘‘She
Wants to Rock,’’ written by Berry, scored on the
rhythm and blues charts, and they are regarded by
music historians as the first significant teenage vocal
group of the time. A jack of all musical trades, prolific
songwriter, and an adaptable vocalist, Berry quickly
became a virtual utility man for the Modern label
while still in his teens. Most notably, he appeared
as the bass lead vocalist on the Robins’s ‘‘Riot in
Cell Block #9’’ (1954) and the partner to Etta
James on ‘‘The Wallflower (Dance with Me Henry)’’
In 1956, while performing as Rocky Rillera with
Bobby and Barry Rillera’s Rhythm Rockers, Berry
heard the ensemble perform a now universally familiar
riff taken from Rene Touzet’s ‘‘El Loco Cha
Cha.’’ Berry employed this rhythmic fragment as the
nucleus for ‘‘Louie Louie,’’ originally played as a
mambo for its release as the B-side of Berry’s
solo single on Max Feirtag’s Flip Records. The
A-side of the 1957 release was a cover version of the
hardy perennial ‘‘You Are My Sunshine.’’ Local Los
Angeles disk jockey Hunter Hancock pushed the
flipside, and the track became a regional hit up and
down the West Coast.
Rockers in the burgeoning Seattle, Washington,
scene discovered it, and Rockin’ Robin Roberts,
backed by local legends the Wailers, covered ‘‘Louie
Louie’’ in 1961. The record precipitated the universally
familiar version by the Kingsmen, released in 1963.
Its success and eventual emergence as a rock standard
did not immediately benefit Berry, because he had
sold his interest in the copyright to Feirtag for $750
in the late 1950s. Thankfully, after many meager years
as a struggling after-hours performer, Berry reclaimed
his rights to the song in 1985 with the assistance
of crusading lawyer Chuck Rubin. The fact that
‘‘Louie Louie’’ earned Berry nearly $160,000 in 1989
alone indicates the fiscal transformation this legal
intervention brought about.


b. 16 August 1951; New York, NY
Born into a musical family, Bibb was influenced by
a vast variety of genres including folk, blues, and
jazz. Son of folk singer Leon Bibb; godson of Paul
Robeson. Attended High School of Music and Art
and Columbia University before moving to Europe.
Released first album in 1997. Nominated for a
Grammy Award in 1997.


b. John Henry Smith, 11 February 1940; Vicksburg,
d. 3 April 2002; Jackson, MS
Born John Henry Smith, the singer/guitarist who
would become known as Big Bad Smitty was raised
on various farms outside of Vicksburg. He began
teaching himself guitar by age eight and after the
death of his father a few years later, he moved with
his brother to Jackson, Mississippi. In 1958, he settled
in Greenville, Mississippi, and began developing his
raw and gritty guitar and vocal style while playing
with local musicians Roosevelt ‘‘Booba’’ Barnes and
L. V. Banks in the area’s tough juke joints. His
early musical influences included Frankie Lee Sims,
Lightnin’ Hopkins, and Howlin’ Wolf.
Working by day as a truck driver, Smith frequently
traveled to St. Louis and eventually relocated there in
1966. He spent the next several years working with
various local musicians, including Big George Brock
and Robert Weaver. In 1976, he made his recording
debut for Ace Records in Jackson. Smith went on to
form his own band in St. Louis that featured guitarist
Bennie Smith and harmonica player Arthur Williams.
In 1991, the group recorded the critically acclaimed
release Mean Disposition for Black Magic, which led
to several tours of the United States and Europe.
Smith’s haunting Howlin’ Wolf–like vocals and raw
Delta guitar rhythms were an exciting part of his
appeal. Smith was plagued by health problems in the
mid-1990s and was confined to a wheelchair after
losing both legs to diabetes. He continued to perform
sporadically and recorded for HMG in 1997 and
Ampion in 2000 before succumbing to diabetes at
age sixty-two.


b. Cornell H. Williams, 13 November 1953;
Grenada, MS
A blind keyboard player inspired by Ray Charles
with strong doo-wop and gospel leanings, the Doo
Wopper played for a time in Lucky Lopez’s band and
worked occasional club gigs, but for many years has
primarily performed daily on an electronic keyboard
in Chicago’s subway tunnels for tips. An exuberant
musician with an emotional, hoarse shout, he issued
idiosyncratic CDs on the Delmark imprint in 2000
and 2002 on which he played piano and organ and
multi-tracked his own elaborate vocal harmonies on
nearly all original compositions.


b. Levester Carter, 10 February 1917; Weir, MS
d. 24 December 2002; Memphis, TN
Memphis-based guitarist and vocalist. Recorded
for Savoy, Sun, and 606 while in the Rhythmaires.
Released singles under his own name during the
1960s through 1980s. His first album, Lucky 13
(1998, Blueside), garnered the Big Bill Broonzy
prize for best blues CD from the French Academy
of Jazz.


b. Major Merriweather, 21 March 1905; between
Newnan and Atlanta, GA
d. 26 February 1953; Chicago, IL
Major ‘‘Maceo’’ Merriweather was born in Coweta
County, between Newnan and Atlanta, on March 31,
1905. The adjacent county is Meriweather (with one
‘‘r’’ in the first syllable) County, and some historians
have spelled Big Maceo’s surname accordingly. One
of eleven children, he was the youngest of five boys,
and was raised on a farm until he was fifteen. In 1920
his father got a job in a bank and the family moved to
College Park, nine miles from Atlanta. Here he was
employed in a house run by a lady named Roxy and
taught himself to play blues on her piano. In 1924 he
joined a brother in Detroit, settling on the East Side.
In the city he maintained a day job and played in the
evenings and at weekends in clubs on Russell and
Macomb Street and at house parties.
One of the houses where he played, at 980 Alfred
Street, was owned by Rossell ‘‘Hattie Bell’’ Spruel
who later became his wife. Hattie urged him to
move to Chicago to further his career, and there in
1941 he met Tampa Red and Big Bill Broonzy, and
was introduced to talent scout Lester Melrose.
Melrose dominated the Chicago blues recording
scene and speedily arranged a session for RCA Victor
for Maceo with Tampa Red. This resulted in the
hugely popular ‘‘Worried Life Blues,’’ covered by
many later artists including Ray Charles. Now an
established recording artist, he continued to play in
Detroit and Chicago with Big Bill and Tampa Red,
and made occasional road trips to Tennessee and
Georgia. Further sessions for RCA Victor followed,
until the 1942 Petrillo ban effectively put a halt on
Maceo’s recording career for two years. He resumed
in 1945, recording some of his best work, and also
accompanying Tampa Red, Big Bill Broonzy, and
Jazz Gillum. Sadly in mid-1946 he suffered a stroke
that left him paralyzed down his right side. He
continued to perform for several years, and even occasionally
to record, with either Eddie Boyd or Johnnie
Jones playing the right hand on the piano. He
suffered a fatal heart attack in 1953.
Despite his short recording career, Big Maceo
became one of the most respected pianists of his
era, and a major influence on later postwar artists
such as Johnnie Jones and Otis Spann. His forthright
traditional blues approach contrasted strongly
with the prevailing jazz-influenced accompaniments
of contemporary pianists such as ‘‘Blind’’ John
Davis, Sammy Price, and Horace Malcolm. His
choice of material also placed reliance on traditional
sources, as evidenced by ‘‘Can’t You Read,’’ a version
of the ‘‘toast’’ the Monkey and the Baboon, and ‘‘32-
20 Blues,’’ a variant of the ‘‘44 blues’’ theme.
On a slow blues, Big Maceo was a moving, reflective
singer with a soft, plaintive voice. Compositions
such as ‘‘County Jail Blues’’ are accompanied by a
four-to-the-bar chorded bass with a characteristic
turnaround at the end of the sequence. By contrast,
his up-tempo numbers invariably feature a driving
walking bass line punctuated by short, complex
phrases and riffs. He recorded several outstanding
instrumentals, and in his tour de force, ‘‘Chicago
Breakdown,’’ his powerful left hand is especially
prominent, including an ascending and descending
semitone run that was something of a trademark. Big
Maceo was perhaps the last of the Chicago pianists
to employ this two-handed approach, as the rapidly
increasing volume of the electric guitar eventually
drowned the left hand of later exponents.


b. Maybel (Mabel) Louise Smith, 1 May 1924;
Jackson, TN
d. 23 January 1972; Cleveland, OH
With a talent as large as her enormous voice, Big
Maybelle was a seasoned professional in her teens
and an enduring influence of female empowerment
decades after her death. After singing with a
Sanctified Church choir, she overwhelmed the judges
to win a Memphis talent contest in 1932 and gain
her first public recognition. Following a couple of
years working with Memphis big bands, she joined
the International Sweethearts of Rhythm and in
1936 began a five-year stint with the Christine
Chatman Orchestra, where she made her recording
Backed by the Hot Lips Page band, she recorded
under her original Mabel Louise Smith name in 1947
in Cincinnati for her first session as a leader. When
she signed with OKeh Records in 1952 she became
Big Maybelle. She also became an immediate success
with three hit singles, including ‘‘Way Back Home,’’
on the R&B charts in 1953. Two years later she released
‘‘Whole Lot of Shaking Goin’ On,’’ which
Jerry Lee Lewis would take to the top of the pop
charts in 1957. She changed record companies but
continued to chalk up R&B hits until the sophisticated
soul sensibilities of the 1960s made her rootsoriented
approach sound dated to young fans.
She worked with the Quincy Jones Orchestra in the
1950s and made a historic appearance at the 1958
Newport Jazz Festival that was captured in the
award-winning documentary Jazz on a Summer’s
Day. Her health destroyed by diabetes and heroin,
Big Maybelle met an uncharacteristically quiet
demise, slipping into a coma and passing away in a
Cleveland hospital.


b. Lillie Mae Hardison Glover, 1906; Columbia, TN
d. 27 March 1985; Memphis, TN
Singer and dancer with medicine and minstrel shows.
Rainey apprenticed with Ma Rainey and was a Beale
Street personality and businesswoman who recorded
for Sun (1953).


Blues-influenced vocal-instrumental ensemble that
emerged in Chicago after World War II. The Big
Three Trio, named after the World War II’s ‘‘Big
Three’’ of Franklin Roosevelt, Winston Churchill,
and Joseph Stalin, recorded together from 1946 to
1952 and continued performing together until 1956.
The group was comprised of Willie ‘‘Big Jump’’
Dixon on upright bass (b. July 1, 1915, Vicksburg,
MS; d. January 29, 1992, Burbank, CA), Leonard
‘‘Baby Doo’’ Caston on piano (b. June 2, 1917,
Sumrall, MS; d. August 1967), and Bernardo Dennis
on guitar. Dennis left the group in 1947 to be replaced
by Ollie Crawford (b. December 1917, Mobile, AL;
d. 1973). The Big Three Trio specialized in three-part
harmonies, and all members of the group shared
songwriting duties. Although the Big Three Trio was
a truly postwar music group, one could argue that the
group conjures the aesthetics of the prewar blues
sound more than the postwar sound. Additionally,
the Big Three Trio defies stylistic categorization, as
one cannot truly assess the Big Three as a vocal group
or a straightforward blues ensemble, further complicating
their stature and place within the history of
blues artists.
Willie Dixon and Leonard Caston first performed
together as the Five Breezes, releasing a record in
1940 on Bluebird Records. However, the group disbanded
when Dixon was jailed for avoiding the war
draft. After his release in 1944 Dixon joined a group
called the Four Jumps of Jive with Bernardo Dennis,
which recorded for Mercury Records. From these
previous musical collaborations Caston, Dixon, and
Dennis decided to form a new group called the Big
Three Trio. The group recorded with Bullet Records
in 1946, where they recorded four singles, including
‘‘Signifying Monkey,’’ which sold 40,000 records.
After this success they signed with Columbia Records
in 1947. The group rereleased a sanitized version of
‘‘Signifying Monkey’’ for Columbia in 1947 and
produced a stream of singles for the label, including ‘‘I
Keep on Worrying,’’ ‘‘Don’t Let That Music Die,’’
‘‘If the Sea Was Whiskey,’’ ‘‘It Can’t Be Done,’’
‘‘Where Shall I Go,’’ ‘‘Why Be So Blue,’’ ‘‘You Sure
Look Good to Me,’’ ‘‘Big Three Stomp,’’ and ‘‘Hard
Notch Boogie Beat.’’
The Big Three Trio briefly recorded for OKeh,
making their last recording in 1952, which included
the single ‘‘Got You on My Mind,’’ but continued
only as a live performance ensemble from 1952 to
1956. Caston drifted from the group in the early
1950s and Dixon began working full time for Chess
Records as a session bass player, which drew his
attention away from the group, and both of these
factors ultimately caused the demise of the original
Big Three Trio. Although Dixon attempted to resurrect
the group—with Lafayette Leake replacing
Caston—for a few sessions on Chess records in the
1960s, these recordings were essentially unreleased.
Caston died of heart failure in 1967 and Willie
Dixon signed full time with Chess Records, launching
a successful career as a blues producer, arranger, and


b. Sarah Streeter, 31 January 1953; Coldwater, MS
An energetic singer active in Chicago, who has
recorded for Delmark Records.


b. Larry Nolan, 22 September 1937; Terre Haute, IN
d. 14 March 1990; Broadview, IL
Singer. As the titular, oversized frontman for the
horn-powered R&B band Big Twist and the Mellow
Fellows, Nolan transformed the Midwest bar band
into one of the hottest live acts on the Chicago scene
of the 1980s. Big Twist and the Mellow Fellows, with
Nolan doubling on drums, began playing around
Carbondale, Illinois, in the early 1970s. The band
built up a considerable regional following before
relocating to Chicago in 1978.
After establishing itself on the Windy City scene as
a popular live act, the group made its recording debut
in 1980 with an eponymous effort on the Flying Fish
label. The release of One Track Mind in late 1981
raised the band’s national profile considerably and a
change of record labels for Playing for Keeps, produced
by Little Milton saxist Gene Barge, made it a
viable touring attraction outside its regional base. Live
from Chicago! Bigger Than Life!!, which effectively
captured Nolan’s charisma as a live performer, finally
gave fans a representative recording of the band at its
best. Nolan died from kidney failure brought on by
diabetes in 1990 but the band played on. Saxist Terry
Ogolini and guitarist Pete Special, cofounders of the
original group, recruited Nolan’s friend Martin Allbritton
to take over the Big Twist vocal role and the
band recorded Street Party in 1990 in that configuration.
When Special left, the group continued as the
Chicago Rhythm & Blues Kings, performing regularly
and recording for Blind Pig Records.


b. 1895; New Orleans, LA
d. 1936 (?)
A singer and dancer in the theater revues and on the
TOBA circuit in the 1920s and early 1930s. Her OKeh
label records included material written by W. C.
Handy, Richard M. Jones, and Clarence Williams.
Reports of her retirement to New Orleans, and of
her death in the mid-1930s, remain unverified.


b. 1935; Quitman County, MS
Guitarist and teacher. From the 1950s through the
late 1970s, Billington was active as a performer in
Chicago, associating with Muddy Waters, Earl Hooker,
and Elmore James. Since the 1980s he has taught
music to Mississippi children after school, initially
in Clarksdale and currently in Lambert. His efforts
are sponsored in part by the Delta Blues Education


b. 18 November 1920; Rosedale, MS
Blues singer of the 1950s who specialized in comic
monologue numbers. His best known song, ‘‘Long
Man Blues,’’ gave him his nickname. Binder began
his career playing spirituals on piano. When he
was young, his family moved to St. Louis and then
in 1939 relocated to Chicago, where he got interested
in the blues. During the 1950s Binder would regularly
move back and forth between Chicago and the
South, performing in blues clubs and recording.
He first recorded for Sun Records in 1952, but the
session went unreleased. He recorded a single
under producer Ike Turner in Memphis in 1954
that got released on Modern. Returning to Chicago,
Binder in 1955 finally recorded a session that
produced ‘‘The Long Man’’ on the United imprint.
Binder recorded one more session, in 1958, for the
Cottonwood label. In the 1960s, Binder was playing
soul music, and in the 1970s, country and western


b. 21 October 1942; Tulsa, OK
Guitarist. Glendale, California, has also been cited as
his birthplace by writers. Bishop was captivated by
blues on the radio as a child. He performed with the
Paul Butterfield Blues Band from 1965 to 1968, where
he struck up a creative twin lead guitar partnership
with Mike Bloomfield. Bishop pursued a solo career
from 1968 with his own group.


b. 1917; Centerville TN
d. 4 April 1969; Houston, TX
Harpist, singer. Country blues harp traditionalist
Bizor was unknown until the 1960s and he died before
the decade concluded, but his work, both live and
in the studio, with his cousin Lightnin’ Hopkins
secured his reputation. Bizor, a traveling companion
of Hopkins before his move to Houston, backed the
guitarist on albums such as Smokes Like Lightning
and Lightnin’ & Co. Bizor, who also accumulated a
few songwriting credits along the way, finally
recorded an album as a leader that showcased his
singing when he finished Blowing My Blues Away in
Houston shortly before his death in 1969.


b. Babe Kyro (or Karo) Lemon Turner, 21 December
1905; Hughes Springs, TX
d. 7 November 1972, Fort Worth, TX
After playing local parties throughout the 1920s and
early 1930s, lap steel guitarist B. K. Turner (aka Black
Ace) moved to Shreveport, Louisiana. There he often
formed a duo with Oscar ‘‘Buddy’’ Woods, who
taught him Hawaiian guitar blues style. Strongly
influenced by hillbilly and Western swing, in 1936
Turner cut two unissued sides for ARC. The following
year Decca released six blues songs, from one of
which Black Ace got his pseudonym. Later rediscovered
by Paul Oliver, Black Ace recorded two sessions
for Chris Strachwitz’s Arhoolie label in 1960 and
appeared in Samuel Charters’s film The Blues, but
never retired from his job.


Flourished 1930s
Under the pseudonym of ‘‘Black Bob,’’ this unknown
Chicago pianist recorded extensively on the Bluebird
and Vocalion labels as a side accompanist to
some of the leading blues artists of the day. He
appears on a number of recordings by Big Bill
Broonzy, Lil Johnson, Tampa Red, and Memphis
Minnie, who refers to him by name on the recording
‘‘If You See My Rooster (Please Run Him Home).’’
(He was also given a publishing credit, along with
Bill Settles, on Memphis Minnie’s recording, ‘‘Joe
Louis Strut.’’) While various researchers have offered
suggestions as to Black Bob’s possible identity (musicians
Bob Hudson and Bob Robinson have been
proposed, among others), no substantial evidence
has been found. From what little is known, this
much can be inferred: Black Bob was a blues pianist
living in Chicago in the mid-1930s who was highly
regarded as a player, given the demand for his
services on the recordings of top blues artists. With
its muscular runs and rippling fills, Black Bob’s
blues piano style clearly marks him as an accomplished
professional of his day. However, after a
burst of session work between 1935 and 1938, Black
Bob disappeared.


b. 2 February 1932; Brooklyn, NY
d. 6 May 2002; Nashville, TN
Pianist, singer, composer. Otis Blackwell grew up in
Brooklyn during the 1930s and 1940s, learning the
piano and listening to country and western and
R&B records on the radio. After winning an amateur
night competition at the Apollo Theatre as a teen,
Blackwell met blues shouter and composer Doc
Pomus and was encouraged to pursue his interest in
writing songs. Blackwell went on to compose more
than a thousand songs to be recorded by Elvis Presley,
Jerry Lee Lewis, Ray Charles, Little Willie John,
Peggy Lee, Dee Clark, Otis Redding, James Taylor,
Billy Joel, The Who, and many others, notching sales
of more than 185 million copies. Some were written
under the pseudonym John Davenport.
Blackwell’s first big break came at the end of 1955
when he sold six songs to be considered for recording
by Elvis Presley under his new association with RCA
Victor. The songwriter was known for preparing meticulous
demos of his tunes, and Presley carefully
followed Blackwell’s template in recording smash hit
versions of ‘‘Don’t Be Cruel’’ and ‘‘All Shook Up.’’
Blackwell’s contract with Presley’s publishers allowed
Elvis to be credited as co-composer on the tunes he
cut, but the arrangement awarded Blackwell with
immediate access to an immense audience.
Otis Blackwell’s own recordings, starting with
‘‘Daddy Rollin’ Stone’’ in 1953, failed to move record
buyers, but he continued to place his songs with popular
artists and enjoyed big hits with ‘‘Fever’’ (Little
Willie John, Peggy Lee), ‘‘Breathless,’’ and ‘‘Great
Balls of Fire’’ (Jerry Lee Lewis), among many others.


b. Robert Blackwell, 23 May 1918; Seattle, WA
d. 9 March 1985; Hacienda Heights, CA
Bumps Blackwell led jazz and R&B bands in Seattle
before moving to Los Angeles as head of A&R at
Specialty Records, producing classic recordings by
Little Richard, Lloyd Price, Guitar Slim, Clifton
Chenier, and Sam Cooke.
He worked as composer, arranger, or producer
with a number of artists, including Quincy Jones,
Ray Charles, Herb Alpert, Lou Adler, Little Richard,
Lloyd Price, Guitar Slim, Clifton Chenier, Sam
Cooke, Art Neville, Ike and Tina Turner, Five Blind
Boys of Alabama, and Bob Dylan.


b. Francis Hillman Blackwell, 21 February 1903;
Syracuse, SC
d. 7 October 1962; Indianapolis, IN
Blues singer and guitarist. Francis Hillman Blackwell
was born in South Carolina in 1903 of Cherokee
Indian descent. His grandmother nicknamed him
‘‘Scrapper.’’ His father played the fiddle and all
sixteen children played music. When he was three
the family moved to Indianapolis. He built himself
a cigar-box guitar and he instinctively knew how to
play it. Scrapper later made money selling moonshine,
his homemade corn whiskey. In June 1928
Scrapper was enticed to make his very first recordings
in a makeshift recording studio in Indianapolis.
‘‘Kokomo Blues,’’ his first recorded song, was later
turned into Kokomo Arnold’s ‘‘Old Kokomo Blues’’
and Robert Johnson’s ‘‘Sweet Home Chicago.’’ With
his newfound partner, blues pianist Leroy Carr,
Scrapper recorded a million seller: ‘‘How Long How
Long Blues.’’ The novel piano–guitar duet proved to
be an instant success and it led the way for other
famous duos like Georgia Tom–Tampa Red and
Charlie Spand–Blind Blake. Scrapper earned so
much money with his hit that he stopped his bootleg
business. Blackwell made a great many recordings
with Leroy Carr, for Vocalion from 1928 to 1934
and for Bluebird in 1935.
Carr’s very last recording was the prophetic ‘‘Six
Cold Feet in the Ground.’’ Leroy Carr died on
April 29, 1935, of alcohol abuse. Blackwell was
heartbroken and recorded a moving tribute entitled
‘‘My Old Pal,’’ with Dot Rice replacing Leroy on
the piano stool. After 1935 Blackwell worked as a
guitarist only occasionally. In 1958 he was rediscovered
by Art Rosenbaum. He made some postwar
recordings from 1958 to 1961 that were issued on the
Flyright, Collector, Document, 77, and Bluesville
labels. He also accompanied singer/guitarist Brooks
Berry on her Bluesville album. In these last few years
he played some concerts for the Indiana Jazz Club. In
1962 Francis Blackwell was shot in the chest by a man
called Robert Beam and died the next day.
Blackwell was equally impressive in an accompanying
role as well as in solo performances. Important
blues guitarists like T-Bone Walker and Johnny
Shines have given Scrapper due credit for the enormous
influence he had on them. Blackwell’s innovative
style formed a bridge between rural and
urban blues.


b. 25 December 1905; TN
d. 1972; Detroit, MI (?)
As a singer and guitarist Blackwell was not in the
same league as his friends Baby Boy Warren and
Robert Jr. Lockwood, but the vivid, imaginative
vocabulary of his blues compositions made them
appealing to contemporaries like Jazz Gillum and
Sunnyland Slim, who got ‘‘Johnson Machine Gun’’
from him.


b. 20 February 1938; Jackson, MS
Chicago hard soul and blues singer. Blake began his
career in 1952 in a doo-wop group, the Goldentones
(who late became the Kool Gents), and from 1959 to
1962, he sang in the Sonny Thompson revue. During
1961–1967, Blake recorded many fine singles in the
hard soul style for independent producer Leo Austell,
on such labels as Renee, Success, Brainstorm, Tower,
and Capitol. Two of his most notable were ‘‘Sad
Feeling’’ (1964) and ‘‘Love Is Like a Boomerang’’
(1975). As classic soul music disappeared in the late
1970s, Blake began performing in the soul-blues style
that was becoming popular in the South. Under the
name Corey Blake, he achieved his first national hit
with ‘‘Dip My Dipper’’ (1978), a blues song recorded
in the South. During the 1980s Blake established
himself on the blues club and festival circuit and in
the Southern radio market. His albums have included
Too Hip to Be Happy (1988, Valley Vue), Just One of
Those Things (1993, Valley Vue), Wives Night Out
(1996, Ace), and Stand by Me (1998, Ace).


b. Robert Calvin Brooks, 27 January 1930; Rosemark,
A prolific and enduring R&B performer, Bobby
‘‘Blue’’ Bland’s style is of the urban Chicago school,
with strong, clearly defined links to the delta. He was
also influenced by the blues culture of Houston,
Bland grew up in rural Tennessee and his family
moved to Memphis in 1947. He began his career as a
local performer in Memphis gospel groups including
the Miniatures, where he adapted some of his vocal
stylings from Reverence C. L. Franklin, father of the
R&B immortal, Aretha Franklin. Bland began his
secular performances at the Palace Theater in
Memphis by competing in talent contests hosted by
blues great Rufus Thomas.
His career took a dramatic upturn when he became
an early member of B. B. King and the Beale Street
Boys, a seminal group that also included Johnny Ace
on piano, Roscoe Gordon, Earl Forest on drums,
Junior Parker, and Billy Duncan on saxophone. The
Beale Streeters were often referred to as the best band
in Memphis during that period.
In 1951, Bland recorded two numbers for Chess
Records, produced by Sam Philips. In 1952, Ike Turner
produced four more numbers for the Modern label.
In late 1952, Bland signed with Don Robey’s Duke
label. His old Beale Street colleagues, especially
Johnny Ace, were enjoying local and regional success.
In 1956, Bland toured with Little Junior Parker,
where he often functioned as driver and valet, as
well as performer. He gained valuable experience,
honed his raw juke-joint style, and finally found individual
success with ‘‘Farther Up the Road’’ in 1957
and ‘‘Little Boy Blue’’ in 1958, which cracked the U.S.
R&B top ten charts.
By the early 1960s, Bland struck gold with back-toback
hits like, ‘‘Cry, Cry, Cry,’’ ‘‘I Pity the Fool,’’ and
‘‘Turn on Your Love Light.’’ The release of Two
Steps from the Blues in 1961 brought Bland the fame
and success he had long sought. The album went on
to be one of the great R&B standards and remains in
print today.
Several hit albums followed including his live
Here’s the Man!! in 1962. His style changed during
this period with an increased emphasis on the velvety
smooth delivery of blues crooners like Jesse Belvin
and Jimmie Witherspoon.
Bland toured almost constantly during the period
from 1960 from 1968, often with his own band. He
had an impressive forty-five charted R&B hits on the
Duke label during that period and played to eager
fans all over the world. However, his success took a
downturn beginning in 1966.
In 1968, after constant cutbacks and losses in
the preceding two years, Bland was forced to break
up his touring band. When Bland decided to cut
his losses, one of the unfortunate results was the
loss of his relationship with the great Joe Scott, his
bandleader and arranger since the early Duke days.
Scott had penned many of Bland’s classic blues
releases and had been a key contributor to Bland’s
successes at Duke. Bland became depressed and,
ultimately, alcohol dependent during these tough
He recovered and, in 1971, was able to jump-start
his career when Duke was sold to ABC Records
Group. His ABC releases of His California Album
and Dreamer restored his confidence and sold moderately
well. Bland attempted disco without much
success, but his 1983 release of Here We Go Again
put Bland back on the charts.
In 1985, Bland moved to Malaco Records, a more
traditional southern label, and his career shifted into
high gear. Seasoned by the struggles of life and
the ups and downs of his career, Bland had matured
into a veteran blues superstar. He was a performer
who had lost little of the R&B excitement of his
early days while adding the poise and delivery that
come from an intimate understanding of the art form.
He dazzled audiences with the same electricity that
drew them since the early 1950s.
He has received dozens of awards during his outstanding
career including the National Academy of
Recording Arts and Sciences Lifetime Achievement
Award and the Blues Foundation’s Lifetime Achievement


b. 18 February 1889; IA
d. 12 August 1968; New York, NY
Singer who recorded two songs for Paramount in
1923 with Fletcher Henderson accompanying at
piano. Her entertainment career was in singing and
dancing in revues and theaters, usually with her sister
Arsceola Blanks. She left show business around 1928,
and worked outside of music in New York City.


b. 21 December 1934; Douglassville, TX
Singer and harmonica player active in Los Angeles,
California. His early career through the late 1940s
was as part of the Sunny South Gospel Singers in
Texarkana, Texas. Around 1949 he moved to Los
Angeles, eventually working dates with Lowell Fulson,
Percy Mayfield, T-Bone Walker, and others. In 1969
he recorded for Bluestime label.


b. Aurora Block, 6 November 1949;
New York, NY
Guitarist, singer, songwriter. Big city native Block,
who began as a fourteen-year-old transcribing
blues off the radio, became the best-known female
country blues practitioner of the modern era, recording
a succession of commercially successful
and critically acclaimed albums and winning numerous
awards. Block, a two-time W. C. Handy
Award winner in both acoustic album and traditional
female artist categories, ran away from home in
her midteens and tracked down country blues legends
such as Son House for personal instruction.
She put the lessons to good use, ultimately establishing
herself as a live attraction while recording
a series of albums including High Heeled Blues, Rhinestones
& Steel Strings, House of Hearts, Ain’t I a
Woman, and Angel of Mercy featuring a feminine
perspective. In 1991 she recorded Mama’s Blues,
with Jorma Kaukonen playing electric guitar on
the title track, in a church as she explored new settings
for her sound.
Block moved her music to a higher level in the
mid-1990s, first with the Handy Award winner When
a Woman Gets the Blues in 1996 and then with Confessions
of a Blues Singer, another Handy winner,
originally inspired by a dream of a Charlie Patton
slide riff. The mixture of autobiographical originals
and traditional material revealed the maturity of
Block’s songwriting in the idiom, and the appearance
of Bonnie Raitt as a slide guitar guest on a track
generated additional airplay and sales. Block secured
her status with W. C. Handy Award wins as best
traditional female artist in 1997 and 1998 and the
release of the critically acclaimed Last Fair Deal in


b. 28 July 1944; Chicago, IL
d. 15 February 1981; San Francisco, CA
Mike Bloomfield began playing guitar at age thirteen,
and later frequented the blues clubs on Chicago’s
South Side, befriending older blues musicians and
sitting in wherever anyone would let him. He linked
up with other young white musicians hanging around
the predominantly black clubs, and played with singer
Nick Gravenites and harmonica player Charley
Musselwhite before joining the Paul Butterfield
Blues Band (1965–1967). His distinctive and original
lead guitar work was featured alongside Elvin Bishop
on Butterfield’s classic East-West album in 1966.
He participated in the recording sessions for Bob
Dylan’s Highway 61 Revisited (1965), and performed
with the singer at the infamous Newport Folk
Festival appearance that year, when Dylan’s new
electric approach outraged the purists.
He formed Electric Flag with Gravenites in 1967,
an influential but short-lived band that explored a
progressive blues-rock direction, and incorporated
a horn section. He recorded Super Session with Al
Kooper and Stephen Stills in 1968, but the venture
received a mixed reception.
He formed Triumvirate with Dr. John and John
Hammond, Jr., in 1973, but without making the
anticipated commercial or artistic impact. Electric
Flag reformed briefly in 1974, and he made one
record with KGB in 1976. His solo recordings of the
late 1970s were issued on a smaller label, but he
received a Grammy nomination for If You Love
These Blues, Play ’Em As You Please in 1977.
Problems with drugs had hampered his career
from the late 1960s onward, and he died of a drug
overdose in 1981.


b. Joseph Valery, Jr., 23 September 1934; Vicksburg,
d. 22 April 1990; Reno, NV
Guitarist and vocalist influenced by B. B. King, Louis
Jordan, and Joe Liggins. Recorded for several labels,
including Kent, Checker, Jewel, Chess, and Space.
His 1966 composition ‘‘Dirty Work Is Going On,’’
released on Chess Records, was well received and
became a blues standard. He toured until his death
from cancer.


b. Claude Smith, 6 November 1924; Marianna, AR
Born and raised in Arkansas, except in Chicago
from 1928 to 1935. He learned to play guitar around
1938. Early blues influences were Arthur Crudup,
Robert Lockwood, and Tampa Red and, through
records, Robert Johnson and John Lee ‘‘Sonny
Boy’’ Williamson. From 1942 through 1946 he served
in the U.S. Army and was stationed in Alexandria,
Louisiana. During that time he began playing with
jazz chords and single-note solos in the manner of
Charlie Christian and Oscar Moore, and he learned
to read music. After his discharge from the army, he went to
Memphis, then to Chicago in 1947. He soon met
Muddy Waters, and he taught Waters how to play
single-note solos without a bottleneck. Through 1947
Waters, Jimmy Rogers, and he performed in Chicago
clubs. He moved to Harvey, Illinois, in late 1947 and
devoted himself more to jazz, then moved to Robbins
in 1949. He moved to Joliet, Illinois, in 1950 and
began performing at Club 99, where he received the
nickname Blue Smitty. In 1952 he recorded a Chess
label session, from which ‘‘Crying’’/‘‘Sad Story’’
(Chess 1522) were initially released. Afterward he
performed around Illinois, usually Joliet, Rock
Island, Phoenix, and Kankakee. He was interviewed
in 1974 and 1979 by Jim O’Neal with George Paulus,
and since publication of the resulting two-part
article in Living Blues magazine, he has been counted
as a significant musician in early postwar Chicago
He is not to be confused with Byther Smith or with
Big Bad Smitty, both of whom have performed as
‘‘Blue Smitty.’’


b. William D. McFalls, 28 November 1946; Memphis,
A singer in the soul blues mold influenced by his
gospel roots and the recordings of Junior Parker,
Blues Boy Willie also plays harmonica and sometimes
the guitar. His songwriting abilities are very effective
on gritty Southern pieces like ‘‘Be Who’’ (his biggest
hit in 1990), ‘‘Injustice’’ or ‘‘The Fly.’’

Belushi, John ‘‘Jake Blues’’:

b. 24 January 1949; Chicago, IL
d. 5 March 1982; Hollywood, CA
Aykroyd, Dan ‘‘Elwood Blues’’
b. 1 July 1952; Ottawa, Canada
Duo of singers and actors created by Dan Aykroyd
and John Belushi. The Blues Brothers began in 1978 as
a comedy sketch by Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi on
the TV show Saturday Night Live. Dan Aykroyd
played Elwood Blues and John Belushi Jake Blues.
The duo performed live with a tight backing group,
in a parodic fashion, shouting R&B standards like
Sam and Dave’s classic ‘‘Soul Man,’’ ‘‘I’ve Got Everything
I Need (Almost),’’ or ‘‘B-Movie Boxcar
Blues,’’ both dressed in black suits, porkpie hats,
and dark sunglasses. Both actors sang; Dan Aykroyd
played harmonica while John Belushi performed outrageous
and acrobatic dance routines. The Blues
Brothers appeared from time to time on Saturday
Night Live, first as fillers for the program, but soon
as one of its most popular skits.
They are remembered as the exuberant stars of
John Landis’s The Blues Brothers (1980), which included
short appearances by blues legends such as
John Lee Hooker playing ‘‘Boom Boom’’ and Ray
Charles. The comedy, set in Chicago’s music scene,
also featured soul artists like Aretha Franklin, James
Brown (as a preacher), and the fine Stax musicians
from Booker T and the MGs: guitarist Steve Cropper
and bassist Donald Dunn. The film was an immense
success worldwide and helped bolster the careers of
many of the blues artists who appeared in it.
Between 1979 and 1982, the original Blues Brothers
released three albums of covers of R&B and rock ’n’
roll standards, but their growing success was stopped
by John Belushi’s tragic death from a heroin overdose
on March 5, 1982. In 1998, Dan Aykroyd rekindled
the duo with a new partner, John Goodman. Together
once again with John Landis, the Blues Brothers made
a much publicized sequel to what had by then become
a favorite cult movie. Aretha Franklin and James
Brown appeared again in The Blues Brothers 2000
(1998), along with B. B. King, Junior Wells, Jonny
Lang, Eddie Floyd, and Eric Clapton.


b. Edwin Joseph Bocage, 20 September 1930; New
Orleans, LA
Pianist, singer, composer. Bo, whose mother was a
popular Professor Longhair–style pianist, became a
major influence on the modern evolution of the New
Orleans nightclub sound through his prolific recording
and pervasive live act. He first gained attention
backing local legends like Smiley Lewis, Earl King,
Ruth Brown, Lloyd Price, and Guitar Slim with the
Spider Bocage Orchestra. He began his extensive recording
career (as Little Bo) in 1955 for Ace and
released a succession of regional hits that became
New Orleans standards. Bo also produced hit recordings
by Irma Thomas, Johnny Adams, and other
Crescent City stars. He continued to perform in
New Orleans into his seventies.


b. Lucille Anderson, 1 April 1897; Amory, MS
d. 10 August 1948; Los Angeles, CA
Also known as Bessie Jackson. This blues singer
was born as Lucille Anderson in Monroe County,
Mississippi. In about 1914 she married Nazareth
Bogan, Sr., a blues singer who worked as a railroad
man. The following year a son was born, Nazareth,
Jr. In 1974 Lucille’s son was interviewed by Bob Eagle
so that we now know quite a lot about her.
Lucille Bogan was the first black blues artist to
record on location, that is, outside Chicago or New
York. On these 1923 recordings her voice was still
immature in comparison with her later recordings.
By her choice of songs it becomes clear that Viola
McCoy was a major inspiration. In a unique move
Lucille switched from classic blues to country blues
for her next session. She had improved enormously in
1927. Bogan had a taste for fine piano accompaniment
and with artists like Will Ezell, Walter Roland,
and Charles Avery she could not go wrong. Bogan
recorded for OKeh in 1923, for Paramount in 1927,
and for Brunswick in 1928, 1929, and 1930.
Although she had an uncommonly large Depression
era output, she made no recordings at all in 1931
and 1932. When she switched to ARC for the 1933,
1934, and 1935 sessions, she had to use the pseudonym
Bessie Jackson for contractual reasons. Her most
famous songs are ‘‘Sweet Patunia,’’ ‘‘Sloppy Drunk
Blues,’’ and especially ‘‘Black Angel Blues,’’ which
was later covered by B. B. King as ‘‘Sweet Little
Angel.’’ In 1937 she brought her son Nazareth’s
group to the Birmingham studio. A photo of this
group identifies John Bell on piano, John Grimes on
trumpet, and Nazareth himself on bass.
After the Second World War Lucille Bogan made
some trial discs for aNewYork company. She wasmad
when the records were rejected and died shortly afterward.
Lucille Bogan was one of the most distinguished
of all the Alabama blues artists. She stayed a blues
singer to the end, never yielding to commercialism.


b. 10 May 1909; Spartanburg, SC
d. 29 January 1990; Detroit, MI
Birth year has also been given as 1910. Guitarist/
singer Ted Bogan spent much of his career performing
with Howard Armstrong and Carl Martin. He
played with them in a prewar era string band known
under various names including the Four Keys and the
Tennessee Chocolate Drops. His first recordings were
made for Bluebird in 1934 with Armstrong. In the
1970s, the trio achieved fame touring and recording
as Martin, Bogan, and Armstrong.

b. 1960; Detroit, MI
Vocalist, pianist, and saxophonist who emerged
from the Maryland club circuit. She is noted for her
versatility in piano boogie, swing, rhythm and blues,
soul and rock, and for her own compositions.
James Douglass Bohee
b. 1 December 1844; Indiantown, Saint John, New
Brunswick, Canada
d. 8 December 1897; Ebbw Vale, England
George B. Bohee
b. 25 March 1857; Indiantown, Saint John, New
Brunswick, Canada (1856 repeatedly cited in U.S.
census data.)
d. After 1905
James Bohee, teamster, and his wife Isabella had
seven or eight children, three of whom became entertainers:
James Douglas Bohee (1844–1897), George
Bohee (1856–after 1905) and sister Laura Bohee
(1870–1890). Mayme Bohee may also have been a
relative—known as ‘‘The Creole Nightingale,’’ she
toured the United States as a member of troupes
such as the Black Patti Troubadours and Sam
T. Jack’s Creoles. St. John’s black population had
its origins in the Caribbean and the United States,
and the Bohee family had moved to Boston by 1959.
(In 1860 James Bohee was listed as a sailor.) Boston
was the center of banjo manufacturing and the
brothers took up that instrument. Around 1876 the
Bohee brothers started their own, racially mixed
Bohee Minstrels, which also included James Bland.
They toured the United States in early 1876, then later
in 1876 with Callender’s Georgia Minstrels, and from
1878 as part of Jack Haverly’s Genuine Colored
Minstrels. By May 1880 they had reached Canada,
where James Bohee was reported to be the drum
major in the troupe’s street parades. They opened at
Her Majesty’s Theatre, London, in July of that year.
The troupe, with more than sixty performers, toured
Britain and returned to America in 1882. James
Bohee remained in Britain, owning a minstrel show
(once again James Bland was hired) that toured
theaters and halls for several months each year. He
provided banjo lessons at his London studio. James
and George Bohee also owned the Gardenia Club in
Leicester Square from about 1882. By 1890 the
brothers had become London institutions, and members
of royalty were among the pupils. After James
died of pneumonia, brother George first tried to
continue the Bohee Operatic Minstrels but, by late
1898, was forced to disband. He consequently worked
as a solo performer and toured the Empire Theatre
circuit. His death has been variously dated from 1915
(in the United States) to the 1930s (in Britain).
As well as singing, tenor George Bohee danced
to his brother’s banjo and played banjo duets with
him. (George also played piano.) James provided
banjo solos. They kept in contact with America,
introducing songs and providing employment opportunities.
Catering to a white European audience,
‘‘Home Sweet Home’’ and ‘‘A Boy’s Best Friend Is
His Mother’’ are examples of the sentimental compositions
that made them famous, but the Bohee
brothers repertoire also included antislavery protest
material, cakewalks, and minstrel songs. Sometime
between 1890 and 1892 in London, the Bohee
brothers recorded banjo duets on Edison wax cylinders,
possibly making them the first African
Americans to do so. These recordings are known
only from a report of their being played in Australia
and it is impossible to assess their musical character.
George Bohee made at least another eleven banjo
solos for the Edison Bell Supply Company in Liverpool
in 1898, but the titles (including ‘‘Darky’s
Dream’’ and ‘‘Darky’s Awakening’’) are at present
only known from catalogs.
James Bohee was a musical pioneer, an adept instrumentalist,
and a successful promoter. With a
background in U.S. minstrelsy he was active in
many aspects of Britain’s entertainment world between
1880 and 1897. An obituary for James described
the brothers as ‘‘the best banjoists in the
world’’; no doubt he was the most influential of all
representatives of African American culture in
Britain, influencing an entire generation of banjo
players in that country. Their songs were widely copied
and even arranged for barrel organ. George Bohee
was the author of ‘‘George Bohee Medleys,’’ which
comprised excerpts from ‘‘Manhattan Beach March,’’
‘‘Washington Post,’’ and ‘‘Rastus on Parade.’’

b. 1931; Port Gibson, MS
d. 16 December 1992; Chicago, IL
Bassist active in Chicago from the late 1950s until his
death. Raised in Mound Bayou, Mississippi, and
worked there on farms and construction sites. Boines
moved to Chicago in 1956 and began playing guitar
under the influence of his brother Aaron Boines
(d. 1971). Around 1961 he began playing electric
bass around the Chicago West Side. In 1965 he
began performing with Mighty Joe Young and was
included on the latter’s Delmark LP Blues with a
Touch of Soul. From 1964 through the 1970s he was
a locksmith. In later years he was bassist for Jimmy

b. A. D. Bollin, 5 September 1922; Frisco, TX
d. 19 October 1990; Dallas, TX
An early and enduring influence on the modern Texas
blues scene, Bollin, who had previously worked with
Percy Mayfield, recorded four songs, including ‘‘Why
Don’t You Eat Where You Slept Last Night?’’ for the
Torch label in Dallas in the early 1950s. Bollin’s
signature big sound, both as a vocalist and guitarist,
was reinforced by future Ray Charles Orchestra saxists
David ‘‘Fathead’’ Newman and Leroy Cooper on
one of the sessions and by the Jimmy McCracklin
band on the other.
After touring in various big bands, Bollin, like the
songs he had recorded, disappeared from the scene in
the early 1960s. It wasn’t until 1983, when they were
included on a small label’s Texas blues compilation,
that his career belatedly began its second and final
A rediscovered Bollin returned to the recording
studio in 1989 for Texas Bluesman, a star-studded
effort produced by the Dallas Blues Society. The
album, later reissued on Antone’s Records, featured
appearances by original recording colleague Newman,
as well as guitarists Duke Robillard and Wayne
Bennett and a large cast of Austin all-stars.
Austin club owner Clifford Antone championed
Bollin’s return, providing him with regular live dates
and arranging for his return to recording activity.
Bollin, who had already recorded two tracks with
guitarists Wayne Bennett and Doug Sahm, was working
on an album for Antone’s at the time of his death.

b. 28 October 1937; Romford, England
d. 8 May 1974; London, England
Jazz saxophonist, turned to rhythm and blues and
Hammond organ with Alexis Korner, 1962. Bond
led a trio with Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker, known
as the Graham Bond Organization. Bond came to
America in late 1960s. He was gifted but unstable,
and never fulfilled his potential. He committed suicide
on the London Underground.

b. 16 March 1909; Brownsville, TN
d. 31 August 1947; Dyersburg, TN
Born to Hattie Newbern and Aaron Bonds, Son
Bonds was one of a number of singers to come from
the Brownsville, Tennessee, area, and he grew up in
that same region where he learned to play guitar and
was soon working the streets with other regional
musicians. He was a powerful singer/guitarist, who
is heard to best advantage on his 1941 Bluebird sides
with Sleepy John Estes. He began his recording career
when he and his street-singing partner, harmonicist
Hammie Nixon, recorded for Decca in 1934 as
‘‘Brownsville Son Bonds.’’ He recorded four gospel
sides as ‘‘Brother Son Bonds,’’ and returned to the
studio to cut two final 1934 sides for Decca as
‘‘Hammie and Son.’’
He recorded with Sleepy John Estes for Decca
in 1938, but the 1941 sides for Bluebird like ‘‘80
Highway’’ and ‘‘A Hard Pill to Swallow’’ are exceptional
for their growling tone and clearly articulated
guitars. The sides made at the same session but
released under Sleepy John Estes’s name are also
quite superior, owing in no small quantity to Bonds’
fine guitar work. He and Estes also split the vocals on
six exuberant sides made at the same Bluebird session,
issued as by ‘‘The Delta Boys.’’ Mistaken for someone
else, he was shot and killed while sitting on a front
porch in 1947.


b. 22 March 1932; Bellville, TX
d. 29 June 1978; Houston, TX
Accompanying himself on both guitar and rack harmonica,
Bonner sung highly personal tales typified in
songs like ‘‘Life Gave Me a Dirty Deal’’ and ‘‘Struggle
Here in Houston.’’ He won a talent contest in 1947
in Houston that led to a radio spot. He cut his first
sides for Irma in 1957 and next for Goldband in 1960.
Full-length albums came about due to the interest
of Mike Leadbitter, coeditor of Blues Unlimited, who
recorded Bonner in 1967, issuing his full-length debut
on Flyright. He cut his best work between 1968 and
1969 for Arhoolie Records. A few European tours
ensued, but by the 1970s he was working outside of
music. He died of cirrhosis of the liver in 1978.

John Lee Hooker (1917–2001): vocal, guitar.
Recorded November 3, 1948, in Detroit, Michigan
(Modern 20-627; mx B 7006). ‘‘Boogie Chillen’’’ was
Hooker’s first hit record, selling a million copies and
climbing to number one on the Race Records Juke
Box Chart in February 1949. He recorded it several
times during a long career as one of the greatest
names in the blues (see the Hooker, John Lee entry).
The recording, which was the B-side to ‘‘Sally May,’’
was a surprise hit. It was produced by Bernie Besman
(1912–2003) at United Sound Studios. Joe Siracuse
was the engineer. The song embodies many qualities that distinguish
Hooker as a unique vocalist and guitarist. It is set in
open A tuning (E–A–E–A–C#–E) with a capo on the
second fret. Throughout his career, Hooker played
primarily in standard tuning in E (or E minor),
using open G and A tunings for his boogies.
The rhythm of the song has a rolling shuffle feeling,
rather than the straight eighth note (duple)
rhythm often found in Mississippi blues. Hooker
had no training in or concern with form or harmony
in the ‘‘school’’ sense. He rarely, if ever, used standard
eight-, twelve- or sixteen-measure blues structures.
For example, ‘‘Boogie Chillen’’’ begins with a vamp,
a repeated pattern setting up the rhythm on A. There is
a slurred ascending bass line played on the fifth string
leading up to the E note played on the open fourth. The
pattern is played, with slight variation, thirteen times.
Such asymmetry heightens the tension of the performance,
at the same time reducing the dependence on
form as an organizing element in the music.
The verse begins with an immediate change to the
IV7 (D7) chord on the downbeat of the first measure:
‘‘Well,mymama. . . .’’ His voice is high, with a real edge.
He spends approximately four bars on the IV, but after
the initial striking of the chord, it functions as a substitute
for the I chord, with the result that the moment
of return to the tone I chord seems unclear, even ambiguous,
to the listener. He uses the guitar percussively,
with the chord components—and their harmonic functions—
subordinate to the groove and the way he
attacks the strings to achieve his very personal timbre.
After the second phrase (again asymmetrical) and
an interspersed high I7 chord riff, Hooker resolves the
verse by going again to the IV before returning to the
I. In this song, he never goes to the V chord. (There
are some songs in which Hooker never leaves the I
chord.) Although he was one of the foremost modern
blues performers, his style harks back to the early
days, before radio and the record industry helped
superimpose a certain uniformity of approach on
what had been an idiosyncratic personal expression.
Also of interest in this performance are two lengthy
spoken interludes, foot tapping on every quarter note
and a lack of rhyming structure. Hooker used these or
similar devices in many of his songs.
‘‘Boogie Chillen’’’ remains the signature song of
John Lee Hooker, a truly inimitable musician.

b. Matthew Jacobs, ca. 1929; Marksville, LA
Singer and guitarist. Through 1960 he participated in
Louisiana blues clubs and in Excello and Minit label
recording sessions. From 1960 through 1974, after
moving to Berkeley, California, he was retired from
music. After his appearance at the 1974 San Francisco
Blues Festival, he made a limited return to performing
and recording, sometimes with ‘‘Schoolboy Cleve’’

b. Vernon Harrison, 18 October 1925; Rayville, LA
d. 2 July 1992; Detroit, MI
Boogie Woogie Red was active in Detroit’s blues
piano scene by his teens. He accompanied John Lee
Hooker from 1946 to 1960, left music for a decade,
and came back in 1971 to enjoy great local popularity.
While some sources state a death year of 1985, Living
Blues published an obituary for July 2, 1992.

b. 5 October 1941; New York, NY
Guitarist and singer. Folk blues virtuoso Book Binder
became a literal musical disciple of the legendary
Reverend Gary Davis, taking regular lessons from
the blind guitar genius and even serving as his chauffeur.
After establishing himself on the coffeehouse
folk circuit, Book Binder went on to accompany
Davis in his live shows.
Book Binder had picked up guitar in the Navy, and
while attending college in Rhode Island and New
York his interest went from casual to obsessive. He
did some mid-1960s recording and dropped out of
college in 1967 to work with Davis and tour England
in 1969 with Arthur ‘‘Big Boy’’ Crudup. He formed a
duo with fiddler Fats Kaplin in 1973 that lasted four
years and produced two albums.
When the duo broke up, Book Binder bought an
Airstream motor home and hit the road with a selfcontained
show that became one of the most pervasive
aspects of the American folk blues scene for the
next two decades. The success of his solo recording
debut Going Back to Tampa, released in 1979, allowed
Book Binder to take his live show to a national
He did not record again until Bookeroo! was
released on Rounder Records in 1988, by which time
his identity as an itinerant folk bluesman was well
established. He continued recording regularly and
touring, putting on live performances that were
equal parts entertainment and education. His personalized,
but true to the source, renditions of the seminal
songs and styles of the genre served as an entry
point into the work of the classic folk blues figures,
including mentor Davis, for his fans.

b. 3 September 1925; Quiver River, MS
d. 20 September 1989; South Bend, IN
Singer and guitarist in early postwar Mississippi
blues. Learned guitar from his father and a maternal
uncle, and studied the records of prewar artists including
Charlie Patton. His reputation rests on a 1952
recording session for Modern Records, where he
made four titles with harmonica player Houston
Boines and pianist Ike Turner.

b. 17 December 1939; New Orleans, LA
d. 8 November 1983; New Orleans, LA
James Booker was one of the most flamboyant, and
technically adept pianists to emerge from New
Orleans. In his unpredictable sets he would play everything
from jazz to classical to popular songs to gutbucket
blues, sometimes all during the course of one
song and all delivered in a highly improvisational style.
James Carroll Booker III was born in New Orleans
on December 17, 1939. In his early teens he began
gaining local recognition on radio station WMRY.
His debut was ‘‘Doing the Hambone’’ in 1953 and in
1960 he made the national charts with ‘‘Gonzo,’’ an
organ instrumental. During the next few years he
worked with famous New Orleans acts such as Huey
‘‘Piano’’ Smith, Earl King, and Shirley & Lee, and
during the next two decades he played and recorded
with artists such as Aretha Franklin, Ringo Starr, the
Doobie Brothers, and B. B. King.
A 1967 conviction for possession of heroin curtailed
his career. His profile began to rise during the
1970s as he held court at local clubs and played the
New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. Despite his
reputation, his recorded output during his lifetime is
slim and includes Junco Partner for Island in 1976, New
Orleans Piano Wizard: Live! recorded in 1976, and
Classified! for Rounder in 1982. Numerous posthumous
recordings of Booker have surfaced including
many live recordings that have only added to his legend.
On November 8, 1983, James Booker died as the
result of taking a deadly dose of low-grade cocaine.

b. Muriel Nichols or Nicholls, 23 May 1920; Baltimore,
d. 1975 (?)
Singer most noted for her 1942 hit version of ‘‘See See
Rider’’ (Decca 8633). A prote´ge´e of Sammy Price,
Booze would go on to record topical songs during
World War II, tour with the Andy Kirk band, and
have additional recording sessions with Price. Activity
after 1962 is unknown.

b. 4 November 1911; Memphis, TN
d. 5 October 1993; Memphis, TN
Active in Memphis in the early 1930s, Borum played
guitar on 1934 recordings by Allen Shaw and Hattie
Hart. After wartime service he worked outside music,
playing only casually. Two 1961 Bluesville albums,
where he accompanied himself on harmonica and
guitar, revealed him as an unshowy but thoughtful

b. Eugene Earl Bostic, 25 April 1913; Tulsa, OK
d. 28 October 1965; Rochester, NY
Jazz saxophonist who recorded a number of R&B
and jump blues in the late 1940s and 1950s, contributing
to the emergence of the era’s characteristic R&B
style, which relied largely on rousing saxophone solos
to generate excitement. Best know as an alto saxophonist,
Bostic also played tenor. He was a member
of Lionel Hampton’s hard-driving big band in the
early 1940s before forming his own combo. His huge
hit, ‘‘Flamingo’’ (produced by Ralph Bass for King
in 1951), spotlighted his ability to play in both a
smooth, melodic style and an aggressive, raunchy,
honking style. Although other jazzmen admired Bostic
for his technical skills, his strong record sales
and jukebox play owed more to his music’s simple
melody lines, strong dance beats, and undeniably
sensual feel.

b. Bennie Joe Houston, 6 November 1943; Panola,
d. 11 July 1993; Chicago, IL
Born Bennie Joe Houston, the singer/guitarist dubbed
Boston Blackie possessed a high, soulful singing
voice and developed an aggressive electric guitar
style performing throughout the 1960s on Chicago’s
West Side, influenced by Magic Sam and Otis Rush.
In 1993, he was fatally shot by singer James ‘‘Tail
Dragger’’ Jones.

b. 21 August 1893; Oconee County, SC
d. 1950s; FL
Bouchillon was the first to exploit, though he may not
have invented, the ‘‘talking blues,’’ a rueful comic
story recounted to a raggy guitar accompaniment,
played on his 1926–1928 Columbia recordings initially
by his brother Uris, later by himself. He was
billed as ‘‘The Talking Comedian of the South.’’ The
form attracted other hillbilly artists like Herschel
Brown, Buddy Jones, and Robert Lunn. His 1927
coupling ‘‘Born in Hard Luck’’/‘‘The Medicine
Show’’ appears to have been widely circulated, with
elements reappearing in the work of Harmonica
Frank Floyd. His approach finds a resonance,
perhaps coincidental, in the work of Woody Guthrie.

b. 1928; Kansas City, KS
d. 24 July 1988; Kansas City, KS
Blues singer who briefly achieved popularity in the
1950s. Her robust shouting blues style evoked the
Kansas City blues tradition, but also signaled the emergence
of rock ’n’ roll. She joined the Jay McShann band
in the early 1950s, and in 1955 the band was signed to
Vee-Jay. Bowman recorded four sessions for Vee-Jay—
two sessions with Jay McShann and the subsequent
sessions as a solo act. Just about every number she
waxed was top-notch, but only ‘‘Hands Off’’ from this
first session made the charts—number one on the Billboard
R&B chart in late 1955. As a solo artist, Bowman
stayed on with Vee-Jay, recording with the company’s
house band in 1957, 1958, and 1959; she enjoyed notable
artistic success if not commercial success. After Vee-
Jay, she never recorded again. In the 1980s Bowman
experienced a revival, playing the Kansas City Blues
Festival, Spirit Festival, and other venues.

b. 5 May 1918; Davila, TX
d. 15 August 1995; Austin, TX
Pianist. A self-taught pianist from a musical family,
Bowser was already touring as a teenager. He joined
guitarist T. D. Bell’s band the Cadillacs in the late
1940s, playing for West Texas oil field workers before
an extended residency at the Victory Grill in Austin.
He recorded and performed again with Bell in the
early 1990s, releasing It’s About Time for Spindletop
Records and playing locally as the Blues Specialists.

b. Roland Hayes, 18 August 1922; Laurel, MS
d. 20 May 1980; Memphis, TN
Raised in Hughes, Arkansas, Boy Blue was a multiinstrumentalist
best known for harmonica. Recorded
for Alan Lomax (1959) and with Joe Willie Wilkins

b. 26 June 1967; Helper, UT
Guitarist in Texas blues styles in practice since 1980.
From 1993 through 1996 he performed and recorded
with the Prowlers, including singer Jimmy Morello.
From 1997 on he has performed under his own name.

b. November 25, 1914; Stovall (Coahoma County),
d. July 13, 1994; Helsinki, Finland
Edward Riley Boyd was a pianist and singer who
recorded more than one hundred tunes for multiple
U.S. labels between 1947 and 1965, and subsequently
recorded ten or so albums for European labels, but is
best known for three brooding blues hits from the
early 1950s: ‘‘Third Degree,’’ ‘‘24 Hours,’’ and especially
‘‘Five Long Years.’’ He spent the first third of
his life in the Mississippi Delta and Mid-South, the
middle third in Chicago, and the last third in Europe.
Growing up in the Delta, Boyd determined early
on to escape the plantation exploitation and racial
oppression he experienced first-hand. He tried his
hand at harp and guitar before settling on piano during
his years in Memphis. He made his way to Chicago in
1941. There, he fell in with the ‘‘Bluebird beat’’ musicians
who recorded for Lester Melrose, accompanying
John Lee Williamson, Tampa Red, and Jazz Gillum
on record and eventually cutting his own records for
Melrose during 1947–1949. He then did one session
each for Regal and Herald. In 1951, he did a session
for Leonard Chess, who rejected the tracks.
Frustrated, he financed his next session by himself,
using money from his factory job, and convinced
J.O.B. to release his tune ‘‘Five Long Years,’’ which
became a number one R&B hit in 1952. On that
record’s strength, he quit his job and signed with
Parrot, owned by Chicago DJ Al Benson. But
Benson, without telling him, sold Boyd’s contract to
Chess (reportedly to settle a personal debt). Having
previously been snubbed by Chess, Boyd was unhappy
with the arrangement, and although Chess benefited
from Boyd’s two 1953 hits, the bad feelings were
mutual, leading to a stormy relationship rooted in
personality conflicts but also partly explainable by
artistic differences. Boyd’s low-key, urbane piano
blues—reminiscent of his greatest influences, Leroy
Carr and Roosevelt Sykes—differed from the grittier,
guitar- and harp-driven sides Chess favored. He
toured actively until sidelined by injuries from a
1957 car accident, then after leaving Chess found his
career stymied by Leonard Chess’s reputed efforts
to quash airplay for his releases on other labels
(including some strong efforts on Bea & Baby with
Robert Jr. Lockwood on guitar).
His career took turn for the better when Willie
Dixon booked him on the 1965 American Folk
Blues Festival package tour of Europe. Abroad,
Boyd relished the enthusiasm of festival audiences
and the absence of racist attitudes. During the next
five years, he lived in France, Holland, Belgium,
Switzerland, and Denmark, and recorded two albums
for Mike Vernon in England, backed by John
Mayall’s Bluesbreakers and Peter Green’s Fleetwood
Mac. Those albums boosted his visibility among
college-age European blues fans. Performing in
Finland in 1970, he met a local woman, moved in
with her (they married in 1977), and called Helsinki
his home up until his death. He recorded and performed
extensively in Europe (including albums for
Sonet and Storyville), making only occasional trips
back to the United States, including a triumphant
appearance at the 1986 Chicago Blues Festival.
Boyd was not an extraordinary pianist but he was
a bluesman to the core, an artist who lived the blues
life and imbued his music with feelings of desperation,
sorrow, and loss. His three best-known songs have
an almost funereal quality to them, melodically and
lyrically. This is not to say that he couldn’t play
upbeat, romping numbers—he could and he did—
but he will always be remembered for those evocative,
gloomy ones, and to this day probably not a night
goes by without some bluesman somewhere singing
his immortal lines ‘‘I’ve been mistreated/You know
what I’m talking about/Worked five long years for
one woman/She had the nerve to throw me out.’’

b. 24 August 1924; Carthage, MS
d. 1978; Los Angeles, CA
Began playing harmonica in Mississippi, and
continued after moving to California in the mid-
1960s. Recorded under his own name, and with
Smokey Smothers in the latter’s 1962 Federal label
session. He also had a reputation for colorful stories
and high claims.

b. 30 March 1957; Oakland, CA
Big-voiced and versatile Bay Area singer, who was a
jazz singer before she became the Johnny Nocturne
Band’s vocalist in 1991, appearing on three of the
band’s albums. Since then she has recorded two
albums as vocalist with the group Home Cookin’
and two with guitarist Eric Swinderman.

b. 5 September 1936; Tunica, MS
d. 9 July 1994; Chicago, IL
Bassist who worked with Mighty Joe Young, Jimmy
Dawkins, and other postwar Chicago bluesmen.
Musicians gave him the nickname ‘‘Mule’’ for playing
bass notes that could ‘‘kick like a mule.’’

b. 15 October 1916; Trinity County, TX
d. 18 June 1970; West Los Angeles, CA
Vocalist in the jump blues style of Louis Jordan
who first recorded for Aladdin Records. Despite
strong material like ‘‘Safronia B,’’ he never broke
into the R&B charts. Also wrote material for Charles

b. 9 January 1901; Byram, MS
d. 2 February 1970; Jackson, MS
A lugubrious singer-guitarist who first recorded
for Victor with Rosie Mae Moore and Tommy Johnson
in 1928 as Ishman Bracey. He learned guitar
from Rube Lacey and was one of many said to have
guided Blind Lemon Jefferson around. He toured
frequently with Johnson and played at social events
and for a medicine show, before settling in Jackson
where he gave up blues and became a minister. He
is known to have recorded an unissued tape of
religious songs.
Bracey is usually associated with Tommy Johnson,
sometimes to his own detriment. He had a hard,
unyielding voice and uncompromising guitar style,
but was capable of effective falsetto on songs like
‘‘Saturday Blues’’ (1928), which he claimed sold six
thousand copies. Stephen Calt and Gayle Wardlow
described him as incapable of tuning a guitar properly,
repetitive and limited in King of the Delta
Blues (Rock Chapel Press, 1988). Bracey was advised
by Paramount recording director Art Laibley to vary
his approach so he recorded for Paramount with the
New Orleans Nehi Boys, a jazz group. Those sides
that survive are not a success.
He and Johnson fell out over money, a rift that
lasted until Johnson’s death. Bracey never recorded
commercially again. He was interviewed by Gayle
Dean Wardlow in 1963, but remains a figure as
remote as his recordings.

b. 23 May 1908; OK
d. 20 February 1972; Chicago, IL,
Birth year sometimes given as 1909. A Chicago record
company executive of the 1950s and 1960s. Bracken,
with his wife Vivian Carter, founded and operated
Chicago’s famed Vee-Jay label from 1953 to 1966.
Bracken was raised in Kansas City, Kansas. He was
living in Chicago in 1944 when he met Vivian Carter.
The couple became business partners in 1950, when
they founded Vivian’s Record Shop in Gary, Indiana;
in 1953 they founded Vee-Jay Records (‘‘Vee’’ standing
for Vivian and ‘‘Jay’’ standing for James). They
married in December 1953. Vee-Jay grew rapidly with
its first two acts, bluesman Jimmy Reed and the doowop
group, the Spaniels. In 1955EwartAbner became a
third partner in Vee-Jay and general manager. Vee-Jay
went bankrupt in 1966, and James and Vivian continued
for a few more months putting out Vee-Jay
product on the Exodus label. After that, Bracken struggled
with various ventures in the record business, including
a blues label, none of which got off the ground.

b. 14 February 1893; Montgomery, AL
d. 20 April 1970; Queens, NY
Beginning his career playing piano in tent shows,
Bradford made his greatest contribution as a songwriter,
convincing OKeh Records to record his composition
‘‘Crazy Blues’’ with African American singer
Mamie Smith, the first blues recording.

b. 18 October 1912; Memphis, TN
d. 17 November 1978; Memphis, TN
Saxophonist and bandleader in Memphis. For some
years he was assisted at piano by his son Evans
Bradshaw Jr., who moved to Flint, Michigan, in 1953.

b. 23 September 1905; Youngstown, OH
d. 26 November 1958; Cincinnati, OH
Guitarist, singer, bandleader. A jump blues original,
best known for his propulsive 1951 hit, ‘‘The Train
Kept a Rollin’,’’ Bradshaw adeptly altered his musical
style to extend and expand his career. He recorded
with numerous jazz greats, including Sonny Stitt, Gigi
Gryce, Charlie Shavers, and Sil Austin, but his music
always remained blues based.
Bradshaw, a psychology major, was a singer at
Wilberforce University and a drummer for Horace
Henderson’s Collegians. In 1932 he moved to New
York City and quickly became an in-demand drummer,
working with the Mills Blue Rhythm Band, the
Savoy Bearcats, and other successful bands. Bradshaw
soon formed his own group, modeled closely
on that of former band mate Cab Calloway, a fellow
alumnus of Marion Hardy’s Alabamians, and was
showcased at the Renaissance Ballroom in New
York City. Bradshaw and band recorded in 1934 but
it would be another decade before he would be back
in the studio on a regular basis.
Bradshaw spent World War II in an Army big band
and he returned to his peacetime profession with fresh
energy and a new, upbeat, dance-friendly R&B approach
that replaced his previous blues emphasis. He
did the majority of his recording in the five year span
of 1950 to 1954, amassing a handful of hits for the
King label before being sidelined by a stroke.

b. 23 May 1934; Dallas, TX
d. 5 December 2003; Dallas, TX
Last name sometimes shown as ‘‘Bragg.’’ A master
showman whose original live act featured almost
exact impersonations of soul/blues greats, Braggs inadvertently
acquired his stage name from a New
Orleans promoter who didn’t know who he was.
Braggs went wild on stage to live up to it and a star
and style were born. He was a country and gospel fan
before he formed Al Braggs and the Organizers but
his friendship with Bobby ‘‘Blue’’ Bland led him deeper
into the blues. In 1959 Bland got him signed by
Don Robey to Duke Records, where Willie Dixon
produced his debut recording. Braggs toured with
Bland until 1966 when he went solo.

b. 17 February 1949; Dallas, TX
Drummer, singer, songwriter. Best known as a longtime
songwriter for Stevie Ray Vaughan, Bramhall was also a mentor to the Texas rocking blues explosion
of the 1980s through his work in early groups like
the Chessmen, with Jimmie Vaughan, and Storm,
featuring Vaughan and occasionally his brother
Stevie Ray. He also performed with Marcia Ball,
Rocky Hill, Anson Funderburgh, Lou Ann Barton,
and Mason Ruffner. Bramhall’s first album as a leader,
Birdnest on the Ground, was released in 1994 with
the sequel, Fitchburg Street, coming a decade later.
Bramhall, father of guitarist Doyle Bramhall II, also
worked as a producer for Indigenous and Chris
Duarte and coproduced Marcia Ball’s W. C. Handy
Award–winning Presumed Innocent.

b. 3 October 1951; Great Lakes Naval Hospital
(north of Chicago), IL
In spite of his continued importance on the Chicago
blues scene, Branch was actually raised in Southern
California, and only returned to Chicago in the late
1960s to attend the University of Illinois as a political
science major.
Inspired by Willie Dixon, Junior Wells and other
performers at the Grant Park blues festival in 1969,
Branch soon abandoned political science in favor of
blues harmonica studies in the clubs of Chicago. He
first recorded, as a sideman, on a 1974 session for
Willie Dixon, replacing an out-of-town Carey Bell.
He continued to frequent the Chicago clubs, learning
from Junior Wells, Big Walter Horton, and especially
Carey Bell, who he eventually replaced in Willie
Dixon’s All Stars.
In 1977 Branch, Lurrie Bell, Freddie Dixon, and
Garland Whiteside—the latter three all sons of noted
blues artists—performed at the Berlin Jazz Festival
as the Sons of Blues, and on their return, continued
to perform as the SOBs. In Berlin, they represented
a new generation of blues performers. Branch has
emphasized the importance of each generation
learning from the last by helping to found Chicago’s
Blues in the Schools program, for which he won W. C.
Handy Awards in 1990 and 1994.
He has won the Living Blues Critics Award for
Most Outstanding Blues Musician (harmonica) in
1993 and 1997, and he shared a Handy award for
the album Harp Attack in 1991.

b. Calvin Thomas Brandon, 22 April 1948; Halifax,VA
Blind vocalist and keyboardist. Played throughout
the southern United States in various bands from
1966 to 1991. Brandon joined Highway 61 in 1991,
recorded four albums, and toured extensively until
the band’s 2001 breakup. In 1994 he formed the
Prime Rib Blues Band and released Good to Go
(Rock House, 2002).

b. 15 August 1930; Clarksdale, MS
d. 15 November 1979; Memphis, TN
Vocalist and saxophonist, best known for his recordings
with Ike Turner, especially ‘‘Rocket 88,’’
which is considered by some to be the first rock ’n’
roll record—if not that, then the first, at least, to come
out of Sam Phillips’s studio in Memphis, where Elvis
Presley got his start three years later. ‘‘Rocket 88’’ was,
by Brenston’s own admission, nothing too original—it
was based on a number he had been singing by Jimmy
Liggins, ‘‘Cadillac Boogie.’’ But it became Chess
Records’ first number one hit on the R&B charts.
Brenston learned sax from Jesse Flowers in Clarksdale
before he joined Ike Turner’s Kings of Rhythm.
When the band went to Memphis Recording Service
to make its debut recordings for Phillips in 1951,
Turner cut a single of his own, but Brenston got the
hit (billed as Jackie Brenston and His Delta Cats)
after Phillips sold the sides to Chess in Chicago. The
resulting friction broke the Kings of Rhythm apart,
with most of the musicians staying with saxophonist
Raymond Hill in Clarksdale while Turner and
Brenston went to Memphis. There they worked a
short while with B. B. King, but as ‘‘Rocket 88’’
climbed the charts, the young and headstrong
Brenston split to launch what he thought would be a
career as a national star.
Wild and inexperienced in the ways of the music
business, Brenston lost all his money, his band, and
his stardom over the next couple of years and despite
more attempts at Chess, he never had another hit.
He went back to work as a sideman, accompanying
Dennis Binder, Amos Milburn, Lowell Fulson, Johnny
Otis, Memphis Slim, and Joe Hinton, finally
rejoining Ike Turner’s Kings of Rhythm in St. Louis
from 1955 to 1962. During his second stint with
Turner, Brenston recorded two singles with the band
for Federal Records and another 45 for the Sue label.
The Rockford, Illinois–based duo Birdlegs & Pauline
hired him after he left Ike. A final Brenston single
was recorded in Chicago for Mel London’s Mel-Lon
label, backed by Ricky Allen’s band with Earl Hooker
on guitar, in 1963. He continued to perform at times
in later years, with Sid Wallace’s band in St. Louis
and with local bands back home in Clarksdale, where
he took a job as a truck driver. In Clarksdale in the
1970s, his claims of once having a number one record
were often met with scoffs of disbelief. As he put it,
‘‘I had a hit record and no sense. . . . It all just drifted
on away.’’


b. 1950
Guitarist and vocalist, folk sculptor in the Ozark
mountains. His blues in the John Lee Hooker manner
are regarded as raw and exotic.

b. 3 October 1920; Brookhaven, MS
d. 3 June 1988; Chicago, IL
Guitar/vocal/autoharp. With his blues-playing father
and religious mother at odds over how best to help
their blind son get along, Jim resolved the conflict,
saying ‘‘No one was ever hurt by a song.’’ He played
religious music, blues, and folk songs for more than
fifty years, hopping freights and traveling around
Mississippi, playing on Maxwell Street, around
Chicago, and later, around the United States and
Canada in the company of many different revival
players, for whom he was a door between worlds.
He died with gigs on his calendar.


b. 2 July 1897; Somerville, TN
d. 14 October 1987; Memphis, TN
Reverend W. Herbert Brewster combined a poet’s
erudition and bluesman’s intensity while penning
more than two hundred exceptional gospel tunes.
Such giants as Mahalia Jackson and Clara Ward
recorded Reverend Brewster’s masterful songs of salvation,
especially ‘‘Move On Up a Little Higher’’
(1946). His dynamic oratorical skills were regularly
displayed during a five-decade tenure as pastor of
Memphis’s East Trigg Baptist Church.

b. 7 February 1934; Fuquay-Varina, NC
Big-voiced vocalist, pianist, organist, and occasional
drummer. Pianist and vocalist with Frank Motley and
the Motley Crew from 1953 to 1966. Relocated from
Washington to Toronto with the rest of the group in
1955. Featured vocalist on most Motley Crew records
of the 1950s and early 1960s. Credited with the first
rocking rearrangement of ‘‘Hound Dog,’’ which
appeared as ‘‘New Hound Dog’’ in 1954, but he is
probably best remembered from the Motley Crew
days for his powerful ballads. His career as a bluesman
was revived after decades of lounge work following
a successful appearance at an R&B festival in
Toronto in 1997. Bridges released new blues CDs in
1998 and 2001.

b. 10 July 1923; Biscoe, AR
d. 28 June 1999; Gary, IN
Drummer, harmonica player. Likely the first female
drummer in Chicago blues, taking up the instrument
as the suggestion of husband John Brim.
Assisted Brim in the lyrics of and recording for
‘‘Ice Cream Man.’’ In later years she was devoted to
several businesses and church.

b. 10 April 1922; Hopkinsville, KY
d. 1 October 2003; Gary, IN
Known for a handful of postwar Chicago recordings,
some unreleased for decades, John Brim remains an
important blues artist for the stunning integrity of
those few sides. Brim’s earliest influences included
Big Bill Broonzy, John Lee Williamson, and Tampa
Red. In Indianapolis from 1941 to 1945, he sang with
Harmon Ray, Scrapper Blackwell, and others, and
learned guitar and the dry cleaning business, two
skills on which he depended his entire life. In Chicago
from 1945 until 1952, when he moved to neighboring
Gary, Indiana, Brim befriended childhood heroes
Tampa Red, Broonzy, Williamson, and Big Maceo
Merriweather, and perfected his playing with fellow
newcomers Muddy Waters, Floyd Jones, Little
Walter, Sunnyland Slim, Jimmy Reed, and others
who would help define the new Chicago blues. He
began performing around 1948 with his wife, Grace,
who sang and played drums and harmonica. In 1950
Brim accompanied Merriweather on four issued titles
for Fortune in Detroit, where he also recorded two
numbers with Grace singing.
Between 1951 and 1956 Brim recorded several titles
for Random, JOB, Parrot, and Checker-Chess, many
issued only years later. Brim’s best chances for success
faded when Chess failed to either promote or release
his output. In addition, Brim’s fully realized ‘‘Rattlesnake,’’
written at Leonard Chess’s request in answer
to Big Mama Thornton’s hit ‘‘Hound Dog,’’ was
shelved when Don Robey threatened an injunction
against Sun Records for the similar ‘‘Bear Cat.’’
‘‘Ice Cream Man,’’ backed by Little Walter,
remains one of the most perfect examples of the postwar
Chicago sound, a symbiosis of swing, menacing
drive, and creative tension and release. ‘‘Tough
Times’’ was a rare blues of social commentary characterized,
as most of Brim’s numbers, by the calm
gravity of his baritone voice and his spare, electrified
country guitar playing.
Brim saw significant royalties only after J. Geils
covered ‘‘Be Careful’’ and Van Halen recorded ‘‘Ice
Cream Man,’’ of which Brim commented to writer
Steven Sharp, ‘‘Van Halen did it . . . it stayed on the
charts for 20 years. We did it, it stayed on the shelf 20
In 1971 John, Grace, and their son John Jr. released
a 45 on their own B&B label. In later years
Brim appeared on CDs for Wolf, Anna Bea, Delmark,
and Tone Cool, and made occasional club
and festival appearances.

b. 13 November 1951; Chicago, IL
Guitarist son of John Brim and drummer Grace Brim,
John Jr. accompanied his father throughout the 1970s,
frequently with Floyd Jones. Recorded with his parents,
‘‘You Put the Hurt on Me,’’ backed with
‘‘Movin’ Out’’ in 1971 as a 45 rpm single on their
B&B label. Has made infrequent appearances since
1980s, working mainly outside music.

b. 28 November 1903; Birmingham, AL
d. 12 August 1972; New York, NY
Jazz and blues trombonist who toured with Bessie
Smith (1926–1928), then took various journeyman
gigs until settling in New York in the 1930s. His
contributions to blues sessions may be heard in the
1940s and 1950s recordings of Jelly Roll Morton,
Wynonie Harris, and Sister Rosetta Tharpe.

b 1898; GA
d. 10 March 1985; Maitland, FL
OKeh label distributor based in Atlanta, Georgia.
Scouted blues artists for OKeh, and conducted or
assisted various remote commercial recording sessions,
including a 1930 OKeh session in Jackson,
Mississippi, with local scout H.C. Speir. Later, from
1934 through World War II, he scouted for Bluebird,
working especially with the Mississippi Sheiks and
Bo Carter. Also a key figure in country music for
finding Fiddlin’ John Carson for OKeh in 1923.

b. 19 November 1933; Sunflower, MS
d. 22 January 1982; Chicago, IL
Harmonica player active in Chicago from the 1950s
through his death in 1982. He took up the instrument
at age six. An early and abiding influence was Sonny
Boy Williamson II (Aleck Miller). After moving from
Mississippi to Chicago in the 1940s, Brooks sought
and regarded ‘‘Little Walter’’ Jacobs as his ‘‘coach.’’
During the 1950s, Brooks led his own bands and
worked often with Jimmy Rogers, Otis Rush, Robert
Nighthawk, and Freddy King. In the 1982 Living
Blues obituary, Rogers attested that Brooks’s health
and early success was hampered by drugs. By the end
of the 1950s, he retired from performing.
Brooks returned to the stage in 1976, rebuilding a
following in the Chicago North Side and West Side
clubs. His health remained weak. Nonetheless he
made a return trip to Mississippi with guitarist Eddie
Taylor and vocalist Tail Dragger. Recording opportunities
came his way, including individual songs for
the Living Chicago Blues album series for Alligator,
and a whole album for Bob Corriture’s Blues Over
Blues B.O.B. label. Shortly before his solo album was
released, Brooks died of a heart attack.

b. 16 November 1927; IN
d. 4 February 1976; Jackson, MS
Slide guitarist in the manner of Elmore James. From
1968 through 1974 he worked with Sam Myers, mostly
around Jackson, Mississippi. His day job was as a
janitor. He did not have an opportunity to make
studio recordings, but his slide playing remains
legendary to those who did hear him live.

b. Hadda Hopgood, 29 October 1916; Los Angeles, CA
d. 21 November 2002; Los Angeles, CA
She studied classical piano and graduated from
Polytechnic High School before attending Northwestern
University. After working as a rehearsal pianist
in the early 1940s, she took up music professionally in
1945 under the guidance of Jules Bihari of Modern
Music records, who recorded her extensively as a
boogie pianist. She also accompanied Smokey Hogg.
She first sang in 1946. She moved to London Records
in March 1950, then to OKeh in 1952, concentrating
increasingly on ballads aimed at the pop market. Her
show on KLAC-TV (from December 1950) was
one of the first regular shows hosted by an African
Her subsequent career was increasingly night club
oriented and included a tour of Europe with the
Harlem Globe Trotters basketball show as interval
pianist, and residencies in Kansas City, Missouri
(1956), Tucson, Arizona (1957), and Honolulu. In
the 1960s she was in Australia with a daily TV
show. She retired to Los Angeles in 1970, but made
a comeback in 1986, now stressing jazz aspects of her
style. Despite the vagaries of her later career, she is a
significant blues and boogie pianist, as evidenced by
‘‘Swingin’ the Boogie’’ (1945, Modern Music 102),
‘‘Rockin’ the Boogie’’ (1945, Modern Music 113),
‘‘Bully Wully Boogie’’ (1946, Modern Music
1002), and many more records from this era.

b. Lee Baker Jr., 18 December 1933; Dubuisson, LA
Blues singer and guitarist. Lee Baker was born in
Louisiana in 1933. His grandfather, a banjo player,
got him interested in music. When he was nineteen he
moved to Port Arthur, Texas. In 1955 he bought his
first guitar. Brooks was influenced by T-Bone Walker
and B. B. King. His first recordings were made for
Goldband in 1957 and 1958. The best-known number
from these sessions was ‘‘Family Rules.’’ Brooks
could now leave his construction work behind and
has been living from his music ever since. While in
Louisiana he played in the bands of Clifton Chenier
and Lonesome Sundown. In 1959 he moved to
Chicago and for security reasons he changed his
name from Lee Baker to Lonnie Brooks. While in
Chicago he recorded and toured with Jimmy Reed.
In the 1960s he recorded for various labels, such as
Midas, Palos, USA, Chirrup, and Chess. A fine live
show in Pepper’s Lounge in Chicago from 1968 was
taped by Georges Adins and later issued on Black
Magic. In 1969 Brooks recorded an album for
Capitol. In 1975 he visited Europe for the first time.
Black & Blue recorded him in Paris and a first
interview appeared in a European magazine. In 1978
Lonnie signed a contract with Alligator Records, for
which he recorded many albums. Brooks continues to
tour and record extensively, enjoying the success he
deserves so much.

b. William Lee Conley Broonzy, 26 June 1893 (?);
Scott, MS
d. 15 August 1958; Chicago, IL
Few blues artists have been as versatile or influential as
William Lee Conley ‘‘Big Bill’’ Broonzy (1893?–1958).
His career as an acclaimed songwriter, singer, guitarist,
and author began in the late 1920s in the early
days of recorded blues and concluded in the late 1950s
as the folk music revival began. While he is often cited
as a key transitional link between rural Delta blues
and urban Chicago musical styles, a distinguishing
feature of Broonzy’s work was his ability to adapt
successfully to changing musical and cultural tastes
over nearly four decades.

b. Ada Scott, 1 May 1890; Kansas City, KS
d. 31 May 1950; Kansas City, KS
Vocalist. Worked and recorded with Bennie Moten’s
Kansas City Orchestra, including ‘‘Evil Mama Blues’’/
‘‘Break O’Day Blues’’ (1923, OKeh 8101). From the
mid-1920s, she toured widely; continued to work as an
actress, singer, and dancer until the mid-1940s, including
in the film Stormy Weather (1943) from
which ‘‘That Ain’t Right’’ was issued (V-Disc 165).

b. 25 February 1937; Jackson, MS
d. 11 December 1985; Harvey, IL
Chicago blues singer and guitarist who emerged in
the 1960s. In early adolescence Brown began playing
guitar in blues bands in the south suburbs of Chicago.
By the mid-1960s he was recording, coming out with a
variety of hard soul and blues sides—on one release
for USA (1964), three releases for Four Brothers
(1965–1966), and one release for Brave (early 1970s),
but garnered no commercial success. In the early
1980s, Brown revived his career, first coming out
with three tracks on the Alligator Living Chicago
Blues series (1980), and then two well-received albums
with predominantly original material, produced by
Dick Shurman for two Holland-based labels, namely
Big Brown’s Chicago Blues (1982, Black Magic),
which won a W. C. Handy Award, and On the Case
(1985, Double Trouble).

b. 10 June 1924; Tchula, MS
d. 27 April, 1981; Chicago, IL
Blues singer and songwriter Arelean Brown started
her career in Detroit in the late 1940s, cut unreleased
sides in the 1950s, and enlivened the Chicago club
scene in the 1970s, also recording an LP including
her warhorse ‘‘I Am a Streaker, Baby.’’

b. 1895; Cleveland, OH
d. 1955; New York, NY
Vocalist. Billed as the Original Bessie Brown. Began
career touring with musical reviews and performing
on live radio broadcasts in Cleveland, Ohio. Her
complete recordings date between 1925 and 1929.
Pseudonyms: Caroline Lea and Sadie Green.

b. ca. 1895; TX
Teamed with in 1918 and later married George W.
Williams, touring with him on the TOBA circuit.
Recorded duets with Williams for Columbia in
1923–1926, and had a solo session for the same label
in 1924. According to Sheldon Harris, she retired from
performing in 1932, and was living in Cincinnati,
Ohio, into the 1970s.

b. 15 August 1911; Cordele, GA
d. 31 January 1976; Brooklyn, NY
Buster Brown recorded some tracks in a 1943 Library
of Congress session that collected dust for more than
forty years. His first released recording was ‘‘Fannie
Mae’’ for Fire Records in 1959. From this session,
several R&B-charted songs made it to his only album
of note, The New King of the Blues. Later, he covered
Louis Jordan’s, ‘‘Is You Is or Is You Ain’t My
Baby?’’ and a great version of ‘‘Lost in a Dream.’’
His final release was ‘‘Crawlin’ Kingsnake’’ in 1964.
Brown was influenced by many blues harmonica
players including Sonny Terry and Sonny Boy Williamson
and had a wild, earthy country style to his
harmonica playing. The songs were always arranged
in a more urban flavor, really more R&B than blues.
Brown was forty-eight at the time he recorded for
Fire, and his success, however brief, was a real surprise.
His talents were finally recognized by a wider audience,
but subsequent releases of ‘‘Is You Is or Is You
Ain’t My Baby?’’ in 1960 and 1962’s ‘‘Sugar Babe’’
were the only other charted hits for this dynamic artist.

b. 13 September 1922; Texas City, TX
d. 21 January 1999; Oakland, CA
Pianist, vocalist, and bandleader Charles Brown pioneered
an alternate style of singing and playing that
proved blues and R&B could be delivered in a sophisticated,
elegant fashion without sacrificing either soul
or intensity. His piano work also had the fluidity,
expressiveness, and dexterity more often associated
with jazz, though it wasn’t quite as harmonically
elaborate as bop. The style reflected his early classical
training, which he received as young man in Texas
City, Texas. Brown’s direction and interests were permanently
changed after he heard and became immersed
in the music of jazz giant Art Tatum.
Brown’s phrasing was elegant, his accompaniment
crisp, and his solos clean and rhythmically delightful.
He did not pound the keyboard or stomp out beats
like such contemporaries as Amos Milburn, but he
could generate equal excitement through his soothing,
inviting leads. Still, Charles Brown didn’t initially
plan on a music career. He earned a chemistry degree
and for a time was a high school teacher and government
chemist in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and later in
Berkeley, California, before moving to Los Angeles
in the mid-1940s.
Brown became the pianist and lead singer in guitarist
Johnny Moore’s (brother of Oscar Moore, a member
of Nat ‘‘King’’ Cole’s threesome) trio, the Three
Blazers, during the mid-1940s. The band featured
Brown’s smooth, yet bluesy pianos contrasting Johnny
Moore’s spicy guitar riffs, plus Brown’s sensual,
smoky leads. Their recordings of ‘‘Merry Christmas
Baby’’ and ‘‘Sunny Road’’ among many others influenced
the early music of Ray Charles, and were later
cited by both Sam Cooke and Bobby ‘‘Blue’’ Bland as
helping to define and shape their approach to song
structure and presentation. Much of the Three Blazers’
music had a joyous, swinging quality, though
solo space was minimized and the trio’s collective
sound was usually at the forefront during vocal
breaks. In later interviews, Brown often spoke about
the lack of individual space and personal publicity he
endured during those times, though he spent nearly
four years with the Blazers. During his Blazers tenure
Brown’s ‘‘Drifting Blues’’ peaked at number two on the
R&B charts. It was subsequently voted R&B Record
of the Year by Cashbox, and would later be covered
and turned into almost as big an R&B hit by Bland.
Though they were frequently compared to Nat
King Cole’s trio, the two groups were actually quite
different. Cole as a pianist could be traced directly
back to Earl ‘‘Fatha’’ Hines in his solos and rhythmic
flair. His singing was also even smoother and more
polished than Brown’s, and he was predominantly an
interpretative vocalist while Brown was also a fine
songwriter. Although the Three Blazers recorded for
several labels, Brown enjoyed even more success as a
featured artist for Aladdin. Brown became a superstar
as a solo performer after leaving the Blazers in 1948.
He was a mainstay among R&B acts in the pre–rock
’n’ roll 1950s, headlining major tours and scoring
numerous big hits with such songs as ‘‘Black
Night,’’ ‘‘Hard Times,’’ and ‘‘Please Come Home
for Christmas.’’ His first solo single, ‘‘Get Yourself
Another Fool,’’ became Brown’s second R&B top ten
hit (at number 4), while ‘‘Trouble Blues’’ topped the
charts for fifteen weeks in 1949. That year Brown’s
trio enjoyed another smash with ‘‘In the Evening
When the Sun Goes Down.’’
His dominance extended into 1951, when ‘‘Seven
Long Days’’ hit the number two spot and ‘‘Black
Night’’ gave him another number one R&B single.
But Brown’s style was deemed dated by the advent of
the backbeat-heavy sounds of rock ’n’ roll. Despite
being both a tremendous instrumentalist and gifted
vocalist, Brown’s approach wasn’t considered bombastic
enough for audiences enthralled by the likes of
Elvis Presley, Little Richard, and Chuck Berry. His
songs also were not lyrically rooted in the rebellious
teen dynamic that increasingly fueled the late 1950s
rock revolution.
Interestingly, Brown never stopped worked or recording,
cutting dates for King, Jewel, and Imperial
during the 1960s and 1970s. He enjoyed his last
significant R&B hit in 1960 with ‘‘Please Come
Home for Christmas,’’ a sentimental ballad that
remains a holiday staple in the twenty-first century.
The Eagles cover version cracked the top twenty at
number eighteen some eighteen years later. But it was
the emergence of the reissue market that reinvigorated
Brown’s career during the 1980s, as his classic
1940s and 1950s sounds began resurfacing on imports
labels, most notably the Swedish company Route 66.
Brown also began doing club dates again, highlighted
by a recurring set of appearances in New York City at
Tramps. A marvelous 1986 album, One More for the
Road on Blue Side (later reissued on Alligator with
bonus cuts, remastered sound, and new packaging),
turned Brown into a star once more. Despite some
signs of aging in the voice, his playing was still inventive
and his singing consistently engaging. Brown
started making the rounds at various blues festivals
and two years later would be featured on a Public
Broadcasting special That Rhythm Those Blues with
Ruth Brown. This show included performance footage,
photos from Brown’s earlier years, extensive
interviews, and a strong duet with Brown.
His final decade began with the release of All My
Life, another fine disc that included guest stints and
collaborations by Dr. John, Ruth Brown, and Bonnie
Raitt. Brown also enjoyed a stint as opening act on a
national tour for Raitt, and made numerous club and
festival appearances. He was awarded a National
Heritage Fellowship by the National Endowment for
the Arts at the White House in 1997, and issued the
final studio release of his distinguished career So Goes
Love (Verve) the following year. Brown was posthumously
inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
in 1999. Two years before that he was inducted into
the Blues Foundation’s Blues Hall of Fame. Though
always a mellow, smooth singer and player, Charles
Brown’s music ultimately was always rooted in blues,
never lacked swing, and was always far more soulful
than laid-back.

b. 18 April 1924; Vinton, LA
Blues singer, guitarist, and violinist Clarence Brown
was born in Vinton, Louisiana, the son of Clarence
Brown Sr. and Virginia Franks, who had both come
from Mississippi. When he was just three weeks old
the family moved to Orange, Texas—thus, Clarence is
actually a Texan. He began to play guitar at the age of
five, inspired by his father, a multi-instrumentalist
who could play violin, guitar, banjo, mandolin, and
accordion. Following in his father’s footsteps, Clarence
mastered a violin at the age of ten, and later
learned to play mandolin and harmonica. It is believed
that he got the nickname ‘‘Gatemouth’’ from
a high school teacher who thought his voice sounded
like a gate. His main early influences were Count
Basie, Louis Jordan, Peetie Wheatstraw, and T-Bone
Walker, who got Clarence his first real job at a
Galveston night spot.
Brown first recorded with Maxwell Davis & His
Orchestra for Aladdin in 1947. In 1949 he switched
to Peacock where he continued to record until 1961.
The Peacock recordings are Gatemouth’s classical
heritage. Scorching boogie guitar is to be heard on
titles like ‘‘Boogie Uproar’’ and ‘‘Okie Dokie Stomp’’
with wailing harp heard on ‘‘Gate’s Salty Blues’’ and
electrifying violin sounds on ‘‘Just Before Dawn.’’ If
he did not record with his own orchestra, the Al Grey
All Stars or the Pluma Davis Orchestra helped him
out. With Don Robey as his manager Gatemouth
became extremely popular, playing at both white
and black clubs. Due to ‘‘serious financial difficulties,’’
Brown left Peacock in 1964. He then
had abortive dealings with Cue (1964), Cinderella
(1965), and Hermitage (1965).
In 1971 he visited Europe for the first time. The
album he recorded with Mickey Baker and Jimmy
Dawkins for Black & Blue in Paris was his first in
six years. In 1972 he recorded a second album in
France, this time for Barclay. It gave him a chance
to express his views on economics, the environment,
and politics. Black & Blue recorded him again in 1973
with Hal Singer on tenor sax. In 1973 Gatemouth
also performed at the Montreux blues festival in
Switzerland and two songs were issued by Black &
Blue. Later that year Brown recorded an album
with Louis Jordan songs for B&B with Arnett Cobb
and Milt Buckner. There was even a fourth 1973
album with Jay McShann. Both in 1974 and 1975
Barclay traveled to Bogalusa, Louisiana, to record
Brown in his home country. The label Music is Medicine
did the same in 1975 and 1976. In 1977 Gatemouth
was back in France again to record with Lloyd
Glenn. MCA waxed him in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in 1978
and Charly recorded him live in 1980. That same year
the Schweizerischer Bankverein recorded him live at
the Internationale Jazz Festival in Bern. In 1981
Brown signed a contract with Rounder and for them
he recorded albums in 1981, 1982, and 1985. In 1992
he recorded for Alligator. Next he signed a contract
with Verve and recorded albums for them in 1994,
1995, and 1996. At the time of this writing Brown
continues to tour and record extensively.

b. 8 December 1909; DeKalb, MS
d. 15 April 1995; Denver, CO
Chicago boogie-woogie pianist and singer. Some
sources cite 1904 as the birth year and Meridian,
Mississippi, as the birthplace. Brown began her career
in 1923 performing in Chicago clubs. Singing in a
light but sly and insinuating voice and accompanying
herself with driving keyboard work, Brown gained
national fame as a boogie-woogie stylist during the
1930s and early 1940s. She recorded for Decca during
1935–1936, and built nationwide popularity for the
boogie-woogie with her exhilarating variation of
‘‘Pinetop’s Boogie Woogie’’ and her swinging version
of ‘‘Lookie, Lookie, Here Comes Cookie.’’ Brown
subsequently recorded for Hollywood Hot Shots
(1936), Capitol (1949), and Blue (1949). She retired
in 1953, but was lured out of retirement by jazz
pianist Marian McPartland to record an LP in 1987
for Audiophile.

b. 11 March 1929; Tralake, MS
Singer and harmonica player Dusty Brown taught
himself the instrument at age thirteen while growing
up in rural Mississippi. He moved to Chicago in 1946
and within a few years began working local clubs,
sometimes with Muddy Waters and Little Walter.
Brown recorded for Parrot and Bandera in the 1950s,
and worked sporadically in music throughout the next
fifty years.

b. 1910; Orlando, FL
d. 1960s (?)
A strangely anonymous artist with no real discernible
roots and a sophisticated background that belies his
concentration on slick country blues. Brown won first
prize in the St. Louis National Folk Festival of 1934
and was recorded for the Library of Congress. He
became an actor, working with Orson Welles among
others, and was taken up by record company owner
Joe Davis who recorded him extensively from 1943 to
1953 before he reportedly died in a boating accident.

b. Brian Calway, 22 September 1955; Bristol, CT
Guitarist in postwar Texas styles including those of
Goree Carter and of Gatemouth Brown. Moved to
Dallas, Texas, in 1983 and backed U. P. Wilson
and Zuzu Bollin in local performances. Formed
the Hash Brown Band in 1993 with bassist Terry
Graff-Montgomery and drummer Bobby Baranowski;
their weekly blues jams are a hallmark of
the contemporary Dallas blues scene.

b. 1906; Troy, TN
d. 28 June 1981; St. Louis, MO
Moved to St. Louis around 1918 and by 1922 was
playing piano at rent parties and bars. His prewar
records show him as an able soloist and sensitive
accompanist to singers. He was drafted into the
army in World War II and stationed in England.
His postwar recording career began with an excellent
album for the 77 label. Not to be confused with
guitarist ‘‘Hi’’ Henry Brown.

b. ca. 1900
Singer and actress on the TOBA circuit, revues, and
theater through the mid-1930s. Recorded two blues
sides with a small jazz group in 1924 for the Banner

b. John T. Brown, 2 April 1918; MS
d. 24 November 1969; Chicago, IL
Birth year sometimes cited as 1910. Tenor saxophone/
vocals. Chicago style jump blues, classic Chicago
blues. Known for his distinctive ‘‘nanny goat’’ vibrato
on the sax. Moved to Chicago in 1945. First session as
a leader was in 1950 for the Harlem label. In 1951 and
1952, Brown recorded for the Chicago-based labels
United and JOB. Later recorded some sides for
the Bihari Brothers’ Meteor label: ‘‘Round House
Boogie’’/‘‘Kickin’ the Blues’’ (credited to Bep
Brown Orchestra), and ‘‘Sax-ony Boogie’’ (credited
as ‘‘Saxman Brown’’)/‘‘Dumb Woman Blues’’ (as
J. T. [Big Boy] Brown). As a sideman he recorded
with Roosevelt Sykes and Jimmy Oden, and also
backed Eddie Boyd and Washboard Sam for RCA
Victor. Brown played on Elmore James’s classics ‘‘It
Hurts Me Too’’ and ‘‘Dust My Broom’’ and with
pianist Little Johnny Jones. In January 1969, he
recorded with Fleetwood Mac ‘‘Blues Jam at Chess.’’

b. 3 May 1933; Barnwell, SC
Birth year sometimes cited as 1928. Vocalist, keyboardist,
composer, arranger, bandleader, and producer.
James Brown, the ‘‘Godfather of Soul,’’ fused
his urgent gospel-inspired vocal delivery with a precision-
tooled ensemble and spectacular stagecraft to
become one of the most powerful and influential
forces in twentieth-century popular music. From
soul to funk to social consciousness to disco and
beyond, ‘‘Soul Brother No. 1’’ changed the shape of
music several times. Billed as the ‘‘Hardest Working
Man in Show Business,’’ Brown mounted his relentless
stage show more than three hundred fifty nights a
year and released an unbroken string of hit recordings
stretching thirty years, from ‘‘Please Please Please’’ in
1956 to ‘‘Living in America’’ in 1986. His early styles
were in rhythm and blues, developing into soul in the
1960s, and to the beginnings of funk style around
1969–1970, often employing and even extending
blues forms as the basis of many songs.
Brown worked with the Famous Flames, Maceo
Parker, Fred Wesley, Bootsie Collins, Bobby Byrd,
Lynn Collins, Hank Ballard, the Blues Brothers, and
Afrika Bambaataa.

b. 5 December 1902; Brandon MS
d. 21 December 1985; Los Angeles CA
Learned guitar and violin from musician father. In
the late 1920s and 1930s he performed with Jackson
bluesmen Tommy Johnson, Johnny Temple, and various
Chatmon brothers. Moved to Los Angeles and
worked outside music. Among his three sons is jazz
guitarist Mel Brown.

b. Lillian Thomas, 24 April 1885; Atlanta, GA
d. 8 June 1969; New York, NY
Early singer on commercial records, making two sides
on the Emerson label in 1921. Blues singing was a
small part of a long career in black entertainment
beginning in 1894. Coming out of a fifteen-year retirement
in New York City in 1949, she appeared in local
theater and taught acting and singing until her death.

b. Napoleon Brown Goodson Culp, 12 October 1929;
Charlotte, NC
Brown spent his formative years singing gospel. After
winning a talent contest, he was asked to join the
Golden Bells. From there he joined the Selah Jubilee
Singers whom he recorded with, and eventually the
Heavenly Lights, who were signed to the roster of
Savoy Records. When owner Herman Lubinsky
heard Brown he convinced him switch to R&B in
the early 1950s.
Brown brought gospel fervor to his Savoy recordings,
scoring a hit with ‘‘Don’t Be Angry’’ in 1955.
Throughout the 1950s he scored with numbers such as
‘‘Pitter Patter’’ and the oft-covered ‘‘Little by Little.’’
He cut ‘‘The Right Time’’ in 1957, originally cut by
Roosevelt Sykes as ‘‘Night Time Is the Right Time’’
in 1937 and subsequently covered by Ray Charles in
1958. Several of these songs crossed over to the pop
charts. The hits had Brown touring constantly, as he
hit the road with package tours that included Fats
Domino, Little Richard, and Jackie Wilson. His last
Savoy recordings were in the early 1960s. Shortly
after, he went into virtual retirement and moved
back to Charlotte to resume singing gospel music.
With renewed interest in his music, mainly from
Europe, he began a comeback in the 1980s. He resurfaced
in 1984 with an album for Landslide Records,
Tore Up, which was eventually issued on Alligator
Records. Strong follow-ups included Something
Gonna Jump Out the Bushes with Anson Funderburgh,
Ronnie Earl, and Earl King on Black Top, and in the
1990s he cut albums for Ichiban and New Moon.

b. Olive Jefferson, 30 August 1913; St. Louis, MO
d. 9 May 1982; St. Louis, MO
Moved to Detroit while an infant. Brown worked
extensively in the early 1940s and starred in productions
at Club Zombie. She worked with Detroit jump
blues bands, including Todd Rhodes and T. J. Fowler
(1940s), doing revues at Broad’s Club Zombie (1942).
Brown toured extensively, used horns rather than
guitars as backup. Her major influence was Bessie
Smith; her repertoire included numbers associated
with Smith and also Ethel Waters.

b. 18 October 1956; Chicago, IL
d. 12 August 1996; Chicago, IL
Oscar Brown III was an electric and upright bass
player, vocalist, poet, and songwriter. His musical
interests were far ranging, including theater productions,
world music, jazz, and blues. He worked with
his father Oscar Brown, Jr., and other family members
from the age of fifteen. Early in his career, he
worked live with Chicago harp master Sugar Blue.
At the time of his tragic death in 1996, his main
musical interest was the merger of poetry with fusions
of various genres of music. Along with poets Keith
M. Kelley and Quraysh Ali, and Dennis ‘‘Nate’’
Williams, Jr., on sax, he was a founding member
of the Funky Wordsmyths, which produced a popular
McDonald’s commercial. Brown worked with
Chicago percussionist Don Moye in his Sun Percussion
Summit, was the musical director for the
Jazz Buffet’s production of ‘‘Back Down Memory
Lane’’ in 1995, and performed with hard-bop ensemble
One Family Band and the late avant-gardist
Frank Lowe.

b. 9 November 1906; Baltimore, MD
d. 20 September 1963; New York City, NY
Saxophonist in jazz and jump blues styles in the 1930s
and early 1940s, based in New York since 1927.
Turned to bop jazz during its development in the
early to mid-1940s. Recorded for the Bethlehem and
Verve jazz labels in the 1950s.

b. ca. 1880; New Orleans, LA
d. 1937; New Orleans, LA
A heavy-voiced singing boatman with a slight speech
impediment who recorded long ballads (including one
about the Titanic sinking of 1912) and blues of
startling imagery at one session in 1927.

b. 10 September 1925; New Orleans, LA
d. 25 May 1981; San Fernando, CA
A pioneer in rhythm and blues and a master of the
‘‘slow burn,’’ Roy Brown effectively transferred the
melismatic quaver of gospel to the twelve-bar blues.
Born in New Orleans, he recorded his landmark song
‘‘Good Rockin’ Tonight’’ for DeLuxe Records in
1947. An immediate regional hit, it emerged on the
national charts the following year and led to other
such popular songs as ‘‘Boogie at Midnight’’ (1949)
and ‘‘Hard Luck Blues’’ (1940). King Records signed
Brown from 1952 through 1957. His career, however,
eroded, like that of many of his peers, with the emergence
of rock ’n’ roll. A cover of Buddy Knox’s ‘‘Party
Doll’’ for Imperial was his final hit in 1957, though the
European reissue of his early sides in the late 1970s led
to an otherwise unexpected twilight resurgence.

b. Ruth Weston, 12 (or 30) January 1928;
Portsmouth, VA
Singer. The personable Miss Rhythm was the single
most important and influential female artist in the
development of modern R&B. Brown was originally
a moody balladeer who modeled herself on Billie
Holiday. But she soon became her own creation, the
first true female R&B singer. In that persona she
energized the rise of R&B, reshaping the sound of
American music in the process, and made herself a
multi-generational star, as well as the spokesperson
for the seminal soul music survivors of the 1950s.
She ran away from home in 1945 and ultimately
married trumpeter Jimmy Brown. She landed a few
singing gigs and her bold and brassy stage presence
soon caught the eyes and ears of those on the scene.
Brown was signed to Atlantic Records in 1949 after
Duke Ellington and radio legend Willis Conover acted
as talent scouts and called the record company.
Neither Atlantic Records nor the music world
would ever be the same. Her rendition of ‘‘Teardrops
from My Eyes’’ was the first 45-rpm single released by
Atlantic and it became the fledgling label’s first big hit.
The hits, more than two dozen in the next decade,
just kept coming for Brown and their success laid
the foundation of Atlantic Records, financing the
label’s growth and imbuing it with a public identity
as the major source of the new R&B sound. Brown
toured, including one historic series of one-nighters
through the South with Ray Charles in 1954, and
served as the role model for a new generation of
aspiring R&B vocalists. After Atlantic dropped her
from its recording roster in the early 1960s, Brown left
the music business, driving a school bus to support
her children despite the millions of dollars she had
made for her record company. Brown’s later campaign
to collect her royalties from Atlantic was the
catalyst for the formation of the Rhythm & Blues
Foundation, an organization that ultimately procured
partial payment for her fellow R&B veterans.
Brown returned to the music business in 1976 and
then moved on to the theatrical stage in the 1980s,
beginning with a role in Allen Toussaint’s off-
Broadway musical Staggerlee. She won a Tony
Award in 1989 for ‘‘Black & Blue’’ and also appeared
in the movies Hairspray, Under the Rainbow, and True
Identity. In addition, she served as host for National
Public Radio’s popular Blues Stage program. Along
the way she also was awarded a Grammy for Blues on
Broadway, inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of
Fame, and given a Lifetime Achievement Award from
the Blues Foundation in 1999. To top it off, her
conversational autobiography Miss Rhythm received
the Ralph Gleason Award for Music Journalism
in 1996.
After a series of albums, including Fine and Mellow
and Songs of My Life, for the Fantasy label in the
late 1980s and early 1990s, she released R?B1Ruth
Brown, a star-studded session featuring Bonnie Raitt,
Johnny Adams, and Duke Robillard. A Good Day for
the Blues followed in 1999.

b. 22 February 1928; Ackerman, MS
Guitarist and composer. While growing up in Mississippi,
Brown assisted his blind guitarist father in
playing for change on street corners. After moving
to Houston in 1946, he became associated with Amos
Milburn and, later, Joe Scott. In 1961 he wrote ‘‘Two
Steps from the Blues’’ for Bobby Bland. After thirty
years of working day jobs in Houston, he returned to
performing full time in 1992.

b.17 August 1917; Dallas, TX
d. June 1956; Lawton, OK
Singer. Big-voiced Texas blues shouter Brown proved
himself capable of holding his own in front of one of
the most high-powered big bands ever, serving a fiveyear
stint with the classic edition of the Jay McShann
Orchestra featuring saxist Charlie Parker. After joining
the McShann band in 1941 Brown was showcased
on a series of seminal Kansas City classics, including
‘‘Confessin’ the Blues’’ and ‘‘Hootie Blues.’’ Brown
left the band for a short solo career with mixed
results, the high point probably being a recording
session reunion with McShann in 1949 on a collection
of jump blues tunes.

b. 6 August 1900; Cleveland, MS
d. 30 December 1952; Tunica, MS
In his teens Brown learned to play guitar from Charley
Patton on Dockery’s. At sixteen, Brown, now
adept on guitar, moved north to the Tunica area.
There in the 1920s he often performed with Kid
Bailey and a young Memphis Minnie.
Brown went to the 1930 Grafton session with
Patton and Son House and recorded four sides; the
two surviving songs, ‘‘M & O Blues’’ and ‘‘Future
Blues,’’ based respectively on Patton’s ‘‘Pony Blues’’
and ‘‘Maggie,’’ show Patton’s enduring influence on
Brown. He probably plays on Patton’s ‘‘Dry Well
Blues’’ from the same session.
After Grafton, Brown and House became fast
friends, frequently performing together in the 1930s,
with Brown usually leaving the vocals to House. But
Brown only other recorded once more, accompanying
House on three of the 1941 Library of Congress
recordings, and one of his own, a version of ‘‘Make
Me a Pallet on Your Floor.’’ Brown joined House
briefly in Rochester, New York, in 1952, but soon
returned to Tunica where he died that same year.
Brown taught House key Patton songs, and influenced
Robert Johnson, who mentions him in ‘‘Crossroad
Blues,’’ later covered by Cream. Due to that
well-known song, the mythic Willie Brown looms
over the real man, the accomplished guitarist and
formative influence on the Delta blues.

b. 8 March 1954; New York, NY
Guitarist, singer, ethnomusicologist. Brozman began
playing guitar at age six and discovered the National
steel guitar at thirteen. He studied music and ethnomusicology
at Washington University, specializing in
early Delta blues. Heavily influenced by early blues
masters like Bukka White, Charley Patton, and
Robert Johnson, Brozman developed a unique personal
style that remained firmly rooted in blues and
jazz, but blossomed outward to encompass myriad
world music influences, notably Hawaiian, Caribbean,
African, Indian, Asian, Japanese, and South Pacific
music. He wrote the definitive book on National steel
guitars. A virtuoso performer, Brozman developed
many extended techniques in finger-picking, slide,
and percussive styles. He is an adjunct professor of
ethnomusicology at Macquarie University in Sydney,

b. 1924; Leuven, Belgium
d. 30 March 1984; Uccle, Brussels, Belgium
Yannick Bruynoghe devoted much of his life to examining
and supporting blues and jazz music and
musicians. After studying law, he worked with
Radio Television Belge (RTB), the Belgian broadcasting
system, in 1954. Two years later, he headed the
‘‘Midnight Movie Club’’ in Brussels. An extremely
learned man, he was quite knowledgeable about
surrealism in paintings, film, literature, and music.
He befriended many jazz and blues musicians, often
entertaining them in his home. Bruynoghe is probably
best known for compiling Big Bill Broonzy’s words
into the book Big Bill Blues, though this relationship
also produced a short art film and sound recording.
His photographs of 1950s Chicago musicians
have been often reproduced, and those of Elmore
James have attained iconic status among blues fans.
Bruynoghe also directed movies on Roosevelt Sykes,
Coleman Hawkins, and more.

b. Blooma Walton, 20 February 1918; Dayton. AL
d. 31 January 1988; New York City (Roosevelt
Island), NY
As a child in Birmingham, Bryant began singing in
church groups. Then, as a teenager in California, she
won a 1937 talent contest on KFRC San Francisco
radio. In her professional career she sang in the Ella
Fitzgerald style, which gave versatility to her blues
and jazz singing. She worked often in radio, films, and
television through the 1970s.

b. 4 January 1942; Talbot County, GA
A lifelong resident of Georgia, Precious Bryant began
teaching herself to play songs on her uncle’s guitar at
age nine. Her first public performances were in
church, where she accompanied her sisters in their
gospel singing group. Bryant developed an early interest
in the blues and was influenced by the recordings
of Muddy Waters, Elmore James, and Jimmy
Reed, as well as the complex finger-picking style of
area musicians. In the late 1960s, she was recorded by
blues researcher George Mitchell. Bryant’s 2002 fulllength
album debut Fool Me Good featured her superb
vocals and intricate guitar playing on both
strong originals and blues and gospel standards.

b. Royal G. Bryant, 25 November 1929;
Huntington, WV
d. 25 March 1991; Columbus, OH
Tenor and alto saxophonist. Funky, soul-jazz style.
One of the first bar-walking saxophonists. Played
with Tiny Grimes and Stomp Gordon before striking
out on his own in 1951. Toured with organist Hank
Marr during the 1960s. Recorded eight albums for
Prestige from 1969 to 1974. Bryant’s two biggest hits
were 1956’s ‘‘All Night Long’’ (based on the classic
tune ‘‘Night Train’’) and 1970s soul-jazz classic ‘‘Soul

b. 23 September 1939; Ozark, TN
d. 14 August 1988; Fairfax, VA
Guitarist. Hugely influential in blues-rock guitar.
Raised in California from age two, Buchanan’s father
was a farm laborer, not a preacher as Buchanan later
claimed. He learned on lap steel guitar, then moved to
electric. Buchanan toured with Dale Hawkins and
Ronnie Hawkins as a teenager, but spent much of
the 1960s playing bars or with obscure bands, and
session work.
Buchanan established a formidable reputation
among guitar players, and was said to have declined
a place in the Rolling Stones, an unsubstantiated
claim. He favored a battered 1953 Fender Telecaster
and developed an expressive signature sound on the
instrument, with innovative use of harmonics.
Buchanan formed his band the Snakestretchers in
1970 and released a self-made live record that was
sold in burlap bag at gigs and is now a sought-after
artefact. He was brought to wider attention by favorable
press and a U.S. television documentary, The
Best Unknown Guitarist in the World, in 1971. He
recorded a number of albums for Polydor (Second
Album included ‘‘Tribute to Elmore James’’) and
then Atlantic in 1972–1981. These albums featured a
wide range of styles, including blues, gospel, country,
and rock ’n’ roll.
Buchanan never broke out of cult ‘‘musician’s musician’’
status with a wider public, and his career
faltered in early 1980s. Alligator Records brought
him back to the studio in 1985 for a slick blues outing
on When a Guitar Plays the Blues. Further Alligator
releases followed, confirming his standing as an instrumentalist,
but the breakthrough continued to
elude him. His life came to a tragic conclusion when
he was arrested for drunkenness in Fairfax, Virginia
and allegedly hanged himself in the holding cell of
local jail.

b. 15 June 1922; Augusta, GA
d. 8 January 2000; Winston Salem, NC
Buckner began her career in minstrel shows at the age
of fourteen.Asinger of risque´ and blues songs, she also
played guitar, piano, and upright bass. Buckner joined
the Music Maker Relief Foundation roster in 1992.

b. Stanley Dural, 14 November 1947; Lafayette, LA
Accordion, vocals, organ, piano. A veteran of the
Louisiana zydeco music scene, Stanley Dural, better
known as Buckwheat Zydeco (a nickname given to
him in childhood), is a top-notch zydeco musician.
His work in zydeco popularized what the seminal
performers, such as Clifton Chenier and Boozoo
Chavis, created: a ‘‘creole’’ (combination) of blues
and Cajun-oriented folk music.
Dural, however, did not start out playing zydeco.
His interest and work in R&B brought him into
contact with a different group of entertainers such
as Lynn August and Clarence ‘‘Gatemouth’’ Brown
during the mid- to late 1960s. In 1971, Dural formed
his own band, a large, sixteen-piece funk band,
which he led until 1976 when zydeco took center
stage in his musical career. Dural’s father was friends
with Chenier, who recruited Dural as an organist
for his band. During this time Dural learned the
accordion under the tutelage of Chenier and then
started his own band in 1979—the Ils Sont Partis
Band (meaning ‘‘they’re off!’’ in Louisiana racetrack
Dural also began to call himself ‘‘Buckwheat
Zydeco’’ around this time. Dural’s group, also usually
referred to as ‘‘Buckwheat Zydeco,’’ was signed to
Blues Unlimited in 1979 and released One for the
Road, followed up by Take It Easy, Baby in 1980.
Shortly after their 1983 record 100% Fortified Zydeco,
the group signed on with Rounder Records. Their
first two efforts in the studio for Rounder, Turning
Point (1983) and Waitin’ for My Ya Ya (1985), were
both nominated for Grammies and feature songs
such as ‘‘Turning Point,’’ ‘‘Someone Else Is Steppin’
In,’’ and ‘‘Your Man Is Home Tonight.’’ Then,
in 1986, the group was offered a major label
contract at Island Records; their debut record on
this label, On a Night Like This, was also nominated
for a Grammy in 1987 and is full of songs that
are representative of the group’s zydeco fast and
slow-tempo songs. Later that year the group appeared
in the popular movie The Big Easy, increasing their
visibility among the general populace outside of
Louisiana and Texas.
The band recorded two more CD’s for Island—
Taking It Home in 1988 and Where There’s Smoke
There’s Fire in 1990—before moving to four other
major labels: Charisma, Warner, Polygram, and Atlantic.
These efforts produced songs that demonstrate
the band’s mix of zydeco boogie and slow Cajun
waltzes and, in the case of the Warner CD, Choo-
Choo Boogaloo, a children’s album—Cajun/zydeco
renditions of traditional children’s songs. Although
the group’s commercial success has waned in recent
years, their live performances are still in high demand.
The band released a CD of live material in 2001,
Down Home Live.

b. 10 November 1929; Hernando, MS
Harmonica player associated with Muddy Waters.
His father introduced him to the basics of harmonica
playing; the boy took to the instrument, spending
his youth in Memphis picking up harmonica tips as
he went. He formed his first combo, the Savage
Boys, upon moving to Chicago in 1952, playing the
area clubs and earning a reputation as a standout act
in a competitive music scene. At the height of their
popularity, the Savage Boys settled into a series of
gigs as a stand-in for Muddy Waters when the latter
was on the road, becoming known as the Muddy
Waters Jr. Band.
Occasional gigs with Waters himself led to
Buford’s entry into the former’s band as James Cotton’s
replacement in 1959. The coveted position was
not enough to curb Buford’s restlessness, however.
He moved to Minneapolis in 1962 where he formed
the Chi-Fours. The group played the clubs and cut
two obscure LPs for Vernon and Folk Art labels
before Buford returned to Waters in 1967. By the
1970s Buford remained a semipermanent fixture in
the Waters’s band, dividing his time between that
and his own recording and performing opportunities.
He went full time with Waters again in 1971 after
Jerry Portnoy’s departure, staying this time until
1974. He continues to work as a bandleader, recording
for Red Rooster and JSP labels.

b. George Washington, date unknown; flourished
1935–1939, Durham, NC
d. Unknown
Singer and washboard player. Bull City Red was
red-complected from being a partial albino and he
lived in Durham, North Carolina, which was known
as ‘‘Bull City’’ for producing its Blackwell’s Genuine
Durham Smoking Tobacco, hence the name. He was
associated with Blind Boy Fuller, and with Brownie
McGhee and Sonny Terry. His recordings are of
sacred material and of Fuller-style blues.

b. Theodore Leroy Bunn, 7 May 1909; Rockville
Center, NY
d. 20 July 1978; Lancaster, CA
Early jazz guitarist who led his own groups and also
freelanced in blues. Birthplace listed as Rockville Center
on his social security application; listed elsewhere
as Freeport, New York. Recorded with Lizzie Miles,
Fat Hayden and Walter Pichon, and Trixie Smith.
Bunn was also a member of the influential vocal
group Spirits of Rhythm. Later played in rhythm
and blues groups with Louis Jordan and Jack McVea.

b. 17 September 1931; Rising Sun Plantation, MS
d. 27 January 2005
A harmonica player and singer of great emotional
intensity. During Burks’s childhood in the Mississippi
Delta, he worked in cotton fields, and he saw his
brother murdered by the Ku Klux Klan. He found
solace in the harmonica, and he was inspired and
influenced by the playing of Aleck Miller ‘‘Sonny
Boy Williamson II.’’ Burke had been playing the
instrument since age three, receiving a new one every
Christmas. Although his mother, a devout Baptist,
forbade the playing of that ‘‘devil music’’ in their
home, his guitarist stepfather encouraged his interest.
Burke left for Chicago at age fifteen as part of the
Great Migration, finding work in the steel mills. He
began singing gospel with a local church choir, an
experience that he later attributed for his powerful
baritone singing.
His recording output before 1992 consisted of a
handful of singles. He occasionally performed in
clubs, but more often he would be heard onweekends
on Maxwell Street. For some while he was known by
the street’s nickname ‘‘Jewtown,’’ but he later
dropped it after some hassles with music publishers
and recording labels. In 1992 he and his second wife
launched Rising Sun Records, featuring himself and a
small roster of regional blues artists.

b. 7 November 1906; Lexington, KY
d. 29 October 1962; Chicago, IL
Vocalist and pianist whose music combined elements
of 1940s Chicago and Harlem blues and jazz. He was
also notable as a lexicographer of black slang and

b. 8 February 1928; Belzoni, MS
Guitarist and harmonica player who flourished in the
Detroit postwar blues scene; also known as Little
Eddie ‘‘Guitar’’ Burns. Burns was initially influenced
by recordings of John Lee ‘‘Sonny Boy’’ Williamson
and Tommy McClennan. He played harmonica as a
sideman to Aleck Miller (Sonny Boy Williamson II)
and Pinetop Perkins from 1943 through 1947 in
Clarksdale, Mississippi. Moving to Detroit in 1948,
he was taken under the wing of John Lee Hooker, with
whom he recorded in 1949 through 1952 for the Sensation
label and for Chess Records in 1965. A series of
singles under his own name on various labels throughout
the 1950s and steady club work in and around
Detroit sustained but a part-time musical career, supplemented
by day work as a mechanic. The 1970s
brought wider recognition with appearances at the
Detroit and Ann Arbor blues festivals and on tours
in Europe. Solo releases in 1993 and 2002 update a
recorded output that, while slim, is well regarded.

b. 27 February 1943; Dublin, MS
Chicago-based guitarist and vocalist. Recorded several
singles in the late 1960s and early 1970s before
reducing musical activity to raise his family. Burns
returned to music full time in the early 1990s, and
released his debut album, Leaving Here Walking, in

b. 23 November 1926; Harmontown, Lafayette
County, MS
From beginnings as a popular local performer in the
north Mississippi house party milieu, guitarist and
vocalist Burnside became known internationally as
both a traditional blues stylist on the festival circuit
and for cutting-edge recordings that fused his music
with punk rock, rap, and electronic effects. Burnside
was influenced as a youngster by guitarists Fred
McDowell and Ranie Burnette; he mastered their
modal, hypnotic style of blues while also incorporating
popular blues songs from Muddy Waters and
Lightnin’ Hopkins into his repertoire.
After a brief sojourn in Chicago in the late 1940s,
he settled in Mississippi permanently, working mostly
as a sharecropper and performing at weekend parties
and juke joints. Burnside was first recorded in the
late 1960s by George Mitchell for the Arhoolie label
and began touring occasionally; he subsequently
recorded three albums for the Dutch label Swingmaster.
In the late 1970s he began performing regularly in
local venues with a family band, the Sound Machine,
collaborating with his musically talented sons and
incorporating elements of funk and R&B into his
sound. He recorded with the Sound Machine for
Swingmaster and High Water, and continued to feature
his sons and grandchildren on later albums.
Burnside became more widely known and began touring
extensively through his association with Fat Possum
Records, for which he has recorded a series of
albums since 1993. He has appeared in five films,
including the blues documentaries The Land Where
the Blues Began and Deep Blues and the feature film
Big Bad Love.

b. 30 March 1931; Chicago, IL
d. 26 November 1966; Chicago, IL
A Chicago R&B singer who helped make Chicago a
center for hard soul during the 1960s. Burrage began
his recording career in the late 1940s as a standup
blues singer on the city’s West Side. In 1950 he
recorded a session with the Horace Henderson band
for Decca, which yielded a moderately successful record,
‘‘Hi Yo Silver.’’ Less successful sessions followed
with the Los Angeles-based Aladdin (1951)
and Chicago-based States labels (1954). In 1956
Burrage joined Cobra, for which he recorded rock
’n’ roll with a blues feel, notably ‘‘Betty Jean’’ in the
Little Richard vein. Burrage moved to Vee-Jay in
1959, and got a solid local hit with the soulful ‘‘Crying
for You Baby.’’
In 1962, he joined the fledging One-derful operation,
recording for their M-Pac imprint. With
his experience in the music business, label owner
George Leaner gave Burrage staff duties as well as a
recording contract. In his position he helped mentor
the careers of fellow One-derful artist Otis Clay and
Four Brothers recording artist Tyrone Davis.
Burrage’s first recordings for the firm made little
impression, but with the driving ‘‘Got to Find a
Way’’ in 1965 Burrage experienced his first national
hit, going to number ten on the Cashbox R&B chart.
One-derful failed to sustain Burrage’s success, by
recording weak sound-alikes. The artist had no
other opportunities, dying the following year in
Tyrone Davis’s backyard.

b. 15 February 1928; Kings Mountain, NC
d. 15 May 1988; San Francisco, CA
A nephew of Sonny Terry, harmonica and bones
player Burris helped keep African American folk traditions
alive by doing the ‘‘hand jive’’ (body slapping)
and ‘‘Mister Jack’’ (dancing dolls). He accompanied
his uncle in sessions for Folkways and Bluesville, and
cut a solo album for Arhoolie.

b. 8 March 1914; Galloway, TN
d. 2 May 1980; Chicago, IL
Drummer. Around 1953, Burrow arrived to Chicago
as a vocalist and emcee. Sometime around 1954, he
received his first set of drums from Snooky Pryor. He
then assisted the rhythm sections of Eddie Taylor,
Eddie Boyd, Howlin’ Wolf, Homesick James, and
Elmore James live and on records. His own solo
session in 1962 for the LaSalle label is unissued.

b. 25 August 1901; Decatur, AL
d. 20 December 1965; Memphis, TN
Singer and ukulele player long associated with Will
Shade of the Memphis Jug Band. Among his various
recordings is a 1939 Vocalion session in Memphis
when he recorded ‘‘Oil It Up and Go,’’ a significant
rendition of the ‘‘Bottle It Up and Go’’ song group.

b. 15 June 1938; Thyatira, MS
Chicago bassist, songwriter, and vocalist, Burton
was sent from the Mississippi hills to Chicago in
1955 by his mother, fearful that more black
youths would be slain in Mississippi following the
murder of Emmett Till that year. In Chicago,
he sang on the West Side around 1957–1958 with
Freddy King, who bought Burton his first bass.
After serving in a U.S. Army band in Germany,
Burton returned to Chicago and began to find
steady work playing rock ’n’ roll, R&B, and jazz
before finding a niche in the blues as a member of
Junior Wells’ band. In the 1960s and 1970s he also
performed or recorded with Billy Wade in the Third
Degree Band, Baby Huey & the Babysitters, Wild
Child Butler, Fenton Robinson, Carey Bell, Fontella
Bass, Jackie Ross, Sugar Pie DeSanto, and Willie
Mabon, before Albert Collins hired him to play in
his Chicago-based touring and recording group,
the Icebreakers, during Collins’s early years with
Alligator Records.
Keeping a day job as a landscaper with the
Chicago Park District, Burton continued to record
with James Cotton, Valerie Wellington, Johnny
Littlejohn, Fenton Robinson, and others, and cut
his first single for Eddy Clearwater’s Cleartone label
in 1980. His debut LP, on his own Avaron label, was
recorded in Europe in 1986. Burton began staying in
Europe for extended periods, doing gigs on his own as
well as with Jack Dupree, Louisiana Red, and others.
On sojourns back to Chicago, he has worked the
clubs and recorded with Big Jack Johnson, Honeyboy
Edwards, and others. His Avaron sides were
incorporated into his first CD for Earwig Music. A
live album followed on Earwig, and in 1999 Burton
did a third CD for Delmark Records in Chicago.
Burton enjoyed a long association through the years
with drummer Robert Plunkett, and often teamed up
with younger brother Larry Burton for many jobs on
their own or behind other artists. In recent years he
has lived and performed primarily in Europe.

b. 1 October 1936; Autaugaville, AL
d. 1 March 2005; Windsor, Ontario, Canada
Although his gutbucket style is sometimes likened to
swamp blues, George Butler grew up in the cotton
plantation country of central Alabama, not the
bayous of Louisiana. He acquired his nickname as
an unruly toddler at home, where he took up guitar
and harmonica as a youngster. Inspired by Sonny
Boy Williamson II, Butler began performing locally
around Montgomery and then took to the road.
Butler cut his first record for Sharp Records, an obscure
local label from Montgomery, in 1964. Sharp
dealt Butler’s contract to Jewel Records, and after
landing in Chicago, Butler began recording under
the aegis of Willie Dixon, with more 45s resulting
on the Jewel label. A rambler during the 1960s, Butler
hooked up with Lightnin’ Hopkins in Houston
and would later return to play on some of Hopkins’
recordings and make an appearance in the film
The Blues Accordin’ to Lightnin’ Hopkins. At other
points he teamed with Roosevelt Sykes or Cousin Joe
in New Orleans and played with Yank Rachell’s
Indianapolis-based band. In Chicago, Butler did police work and was never a
regular on the city’s blues club circuit, but continued
to record, cutting albums for Mercury in 1969 and a
self-produced session for Roots in 1976. Tapes from
the Roots album were later reworked for a new
release on Rooster Blues and, subsequently, on M.C.
Records. Milwaukee was a frequent performing base
during Butler’s later Chicago years. He did most of
his playing as a touring artist, with his own band or in
a package with other Chicago artists such as Jimmy
Rogers and Sam Lay, although in later years he performed
more extensively around Ontario, Canada,
which was his home since the 1980s. Veteran producer
Mike Vernon of the British Blue Horizon label
recorded two albums by Butler in England that were
issued in the United States by Bullseye Blues in the
1990s, and in 2000 Butler cut a CD for the APO label
in Salina, Kansas. Insistent on originality in his own
idiosyncratic style, Butler maintained a heartfelt, hard
blues edge in his music throughout his career.

b. 21 September 1948; New Orleans, LA
New Orleans-based singer, composer, and pianist.
Birth year sometimes cited as 1949. Blind since
birth, Butler studied piano with Alvin Batiste, Harold
Mabern, and Professor Longhair, among others, and
received a master’s degree in voice. His piano and
vocal style is heavily blues influenced, but also owes
much to the varied musical traditions of his home

b. 8 December 1939; Sunflower, MS
Chicago-based soul balladeer of the 1960s and 1970s.
Butler launched his career as lead singer of the
Impressions, whose gospelized hit, ‘‘For Your Precious
Love’’ (1958, Abner), is considered by many
observers to be Chicago’s first soul-style record.
In 1959 Butler began a solo career, and while at
Vee-Jay, he hit with a spate of Curtis Mayfield
ballads, notably ‘‘He Will Break Your Heart’’
(1960), ‘‘Find Another Girl’’ (1961), and ‘‘Need to
Belong’’ (1963), and also scoring with such hits as
‘‘Make It Easy on Yourself’’ (1962) and ‘‘Giving Up
on Love’’ (1964). Dueting with Betty Everett, he also
had a hit with ‘‘Let It Be Me’’ (1964). Among his
many LPs was Folk Songs (1963), which featured
Butler on some folk blues.
In 1966 Butler joined Mercury, where he experienced
major pop success, recording in Philadelphia
under the production aegis of Kenny Gamble and
Leon Huff. Notable hits with this team included
‘‘Never Give You Up’’ (1968), ‘‘Only the Strong Survive’’
(1969), and ‘‘Moody Woman’’ (1969). After
leaving Mercury in 1974, he recorded with diminished
success for Motown, Philadelphia International,
Fountain, Ichiban, and Valley Vue.

Clarence Butler (Harmonica, Vocals)
b. 21 January 1942; Florence, AL
d. 22 December 2003; Detroit, MI
Curtis Butler (Guitar)
b. 21 January 1942; Florence, AL
The Butler Twins learned the blues from their father
and were touring the South by their teens. They came
to Detroit for factory work and returned to music
with their raw blues sound in the 1970s.

Joe ‘‘Jody’’ Edwards (Butterbeans)
b. 19 July 1895; GA
d. 28 October 1967; Dolton IL
Susan Hawthorn (Susie)
b. 1896; Pensacola, FL
d. 5 December 1963; Chicago, IL
Susie Hawthorn began her career when she joined a
circus in her midteens. She married Jody in Philadelphia
when she was nineteen; they teamed in 1917 and
traveled with Ma Rainey’s Rabbit Foot Minstrels
before graduating to the TOBA circuit and becoming
a popular vaudeville duo in the 1920s, specialized in
satirical male–female relationships, domestic disharmony
and infidelity, love, sex, and money—or lack
They toured the south and the north extensively
with boogie-woogie pianist Clarence ‘‘Pinetop’’
Smith, sharing the bill with Ma Rainey, Bessie
Smith, the Memphis Jug Band, and others. Starting
in 1924, they made a lot of recordings for OKeh
Records with Clarence Williams, King Oliver, Louis
Armstrong’s Hot Five, and Eddie Heywood and
continued to do so until the late 1920s. They had
developed an act, the Butterbeans & Susie Revue,
that appealed to large audiences, both rural and
urban. Vocally each possessed a rather narrow range
but because they were comics and comedians rather
than singers, such limitations allowed them to perfect
a conversational style, delivered with the rhythmic
punctuations of a jazz performer and it worked
In the 1930s, despite the stagnation and decline of
the recording industry and the loss of popularity of the
classic blues singers, they went on working in a small
vaudeville circuit until the early 1940s, in association
with the black theaters circuit and, in the early 1950s,
with Harlem’s Apollo Theatre. The couple recorded
again in 1960 for the Festival label but had to retire
around 1965 because of Joe’s poor health.

b. 17 December 1942; Chicago, IL
d. 4 May 1987; Los Angeles, CA
Harmonica player, singer. Studied classical flute as a
child, then turned to blues and harmonica; became a
virtuoso on that instrument. Butterfield jammed in
South Side clubs with Muddy Waters, Howlin’
Wolf, Otis Rush, and his main influence, Little Walter.
He formed the racially integrated Paul Butterfield
Blues Band in 1963 with Elvin Bishop (guitar), Jerome
Arnold (bass, brother of Billy Boy Arnold),
Sammy Lay (drums, replaced by Billy Davenport,
1965). He added Mike Bloomfield (guitar) and Mark
Naftalin (organ) for the group’s groundbreaking
eponymous debut album, which included Nick
Gravenites’ ‘‘Born in Chicago’’ (earlier version of
album later released as Lost Sessions).
Butterfield combined blues virtuosity with rock
amplification levels. He backed Bob Dylan in his
first electric outing at the Newport Folk Festival in
1965. The classic East–West (1966) included a masterly
slow blues, ‘‘I Got a Mind to Give Up Living,’’ and
a long, Indian-influenced title track. The group
enjoyed immense popularity with rock audiences
and exerted massive influence on both rock and
blues artists in the mid-1960s. They did a great deal
to push their influences into the spotlight, including B.
B. King and Muddy Waters. Bloomfield departed to
form the rock band Electric Flag, and Butterfield
recruited a horn section for the next album.
The band performed at the Woodstock festival in
1969, but was no longer a major force. Butterfield
broke up the band in 1972, but continued to perform
and record with his own band, Better Days, and with
members of The Band (including an appearance in
The Last Waltz film). He sidelined the harmonica in
favor of keyboards. He struggled with alcohol and
drug dependency, and died from a drug-induced
heart attack.

b. ca. 1896; possibly Huntington, WV
d. Unknown
Long supposed a Mississippian, singer and twelvestring
guitarist John Byrd probably came from eastern
Kentucky or western West Virginia. In Huntington,
he met the singer Mae Glover, whom he accompanied
at a 1929 Gennett session where he also recorded
sermons as ‘‘Reverend George Jones.’’ In 1930 he
partnered with the Kentuckian singer and washboard-
player Walter Taylor on disc in buoyant
blues and hokum songs, and then, recording solo
and (for once) in his own name, coupled the comic
‘‘Billy Goat Blues’’ with ‘‘Old Timbrook Blues,’’ a
unique composition about the horse race more
famous from the bluegrass song ‘‘Molly and

Nincsenek megjegyzések:

Megjegyzés küldése