Blues Singers

Biographies of 50 Legendary Artists of the Early 20th Century

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About the Book

This reference volume is intended for both the casual and the most avid blues fan. It is divided into five separately introduced sections and covers 50 artists with names like Muddy, Gatemouth and Hound Dog who helped shape 20th-century American music. Beginning with the pioneering Mississippi Delta bluesmen, the book then follows the spread of the genre to the city, in the section on the Chicago Blues School. The third segment covers the Texas blues tradition; the fourth, the great blueswomen; and the fifth, the genre’s development outside its main schools. The styles covered range from Virginia-Piedmont to Bentonia and from barrelhouse to boogie-woogie. The main text is augmented by substantial discographies and a lengthy bibliography.

About the Author(s)

David Dicaire is the author of numerous works about music history. He lives in Leamington, Ontario, Canada.

Bibliographic Details

David Dicaire
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 300
Bibliographic Info: discographies, appendix, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 1999
pISBN: 978-0-7864-0606-7
eISBN: 978-0-7864-6241-4
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Introduction      1

PART ONE: THE MISSISSIPPI DELTA BLUESMEN      5

Charley Patton (1891–1934): Pony Blues      6

Eddie “Son” House (1902–1988): Preachin’ the Blues      10

Skip James (1903–1969): I’m so Glad      16

Big Joe Williams (1903–1982): Poor Joe’s Blues      20

Robert Johnson (1911–1938): At the Crossroads      25

Robert Jr. Lockwood (1915– ): The Master’s Apprentice      32

Johnny Shines (1915–1992): A Traveling Companion      36

John Lee Hooker (1917– ): Boogie Child      41

Albert King (1923–1992): Born Under a Blues Sign      47

B. B. King (1925– ): The Little Blues Boy      52

PART TWO: THE CHICAGO BLUES SCHOOL      63

Big Bill Broonzy (1893–1958): Key to the Highway      64

Tampa Red (1904–1981): The Guitar Wizard      69

John Lee “Sonny Boy” Williamson (1914–1948): The Bluebird Blues      74

Muddy Waters (1915V1983): Catfish Blues      79

Willie Dixon (1915–1992): The Background Man      87

Howlin’ Wolf (1910–1976): Growlin’ the Blues      92

Elmore James (1918–1963): The Broomduster      99

Sonny Boy Williamson II (1910–1965): One Way Out Blues      104

Jimmy Reed (1925–1976): The Sweet Blues      109

Little Walter (1930–1968): The Mississippi Saxophone      114

Otis Spann (1930–1970): A Blues Story      119

Otis Rush (1934– ): Double Trouble Blues      123

Buddy Guy (1936– ): The First Time I Met the Blues      128

Magic Sam (1937–1969): West Side Blues      133

PART THREE: THE TEXAS BLUES TRADITION      139

Blind Lemon Jefferson (1897–1929): The Blues Comet      140

Huddie “Leadbelly” Ledbetter (1889–1949): ‘Lectric Chair Blues      147

Aaron T-Bone Walker (1910–1975): Stormy Monday Blues      152

Sam “Lightnin” Hopkins (1912–1985): Lightnin’ Strikes      158

Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown (1924– ): Gatemouth’s Blues      164

Albert Collins (1932–1993): The Iceman Cometh      169

Freddie King (1935–1976): A Link in the Chain      174

Johnny Copeland (1937–1997): The Fire Maker      178

PART FOUR: WOMEN OF THE BLUES      185

Ma Rainey (1886–1939): Mother of the Blues      186

Bessie Smith (1894–1939): Empress of the Blues      191

Ida Cox (1896–1967): Raisin’ Cain      196

Sippie Wallace (1898–1986): Special Delivery Blues      201

Victoria Spivey (1906–1976): Moanin’ the Blues      205

Willie Mae Thornton (1926–1984): Hound Dog Blues      210

Koko Taylor (1935– ): I Got What It Takes      215

Etta James (1938– ): The Messenger’s Voice      219



PART FIVE: BLUES OUTSIDE THE DELTA      225

Lonnie Johnson (1894–1970): Mr. Johnson’s Blues      226

Blind Willie McTell (1901–1959): Dean of Atlanta Blues      232

Pete Johnson (1904–1967): A Boogie-Woogie King      236

Roosevelt Sykes (1906–1984): The Honeydripper Blues      241

Blind Boy Fuller (1907–1941): Rattlesnakin’ Daddy Blues      246

Big Joe Turner (1911–1985): Shoutin’ the Blues      251

Sonny Terry (1911–1986) and Brownie McGhee (1915–1996): East Coast Blues Duo      256

Professor Longhair (1918–1980): New Orleans House Party      262

John Mayall (1934– ): The Blues Professor      267

Appendix: Recordings by Three or More Blues Singers      275

Selected Bibliography      279

Index      285

Book Reviews & Awards

“extensive profiles…recommended”—Choice; “a good and interesting introduction to blues greats”—ARBA; “provides short biographies of fifty blues singers of the early 20th century, providing a reference volume for casual listeners and avid fans alike”—Midwest Book Review.