TLW's Bluesscope™ (Blues Historyscope)
By T.L. Winslow (TLW), the Historyscoper™
© Copyright by T.L. Winslow. All Rights Reserved.
Original Pub. Date: Mar. 21, 2016. Last Update: July 12, 2017.
Westerners are not only known as history ignoramuses, but double dumbass history ignoramuses when it comes to Blues history. Since I'm the one-and-only Historyscoper (tm), let me quickly bring you up to speed before you dive into my Master Historyscope.
Blues music originated in the Am. Deep South after the U.S. Civil War (1890?), combining African, Euro, and Am. folk music, characterized by the call-and-response pattern, the blues scale with blue "worried" notes, and particular chord progressions incl. the 12-bar blues progression along with blues shuffles and walking bass; originally consisting of a single line repeated 4x, by the early 20th cent. the AAB pattern became std. for lyrics, which describe the singer's troubles; subgrenes incl. country blues, incl. Delta blues and Piedmont blues, and urban blues, incl. Chicago blues, West Coast blues, and Go-go (Washington, D.C.); after WWII electric blues was born, evolving into blues rock by the 1960s.
In 1867 after visiting the freedmen in Port Royal, S.C. during the U.S. Civil War, Yankee abolitionists Charles Pickard Ware (1840-1921), William Francis Allen (1830-89), and Lucky McKim Garrison (1842-77) pub. Slave Songs of the United States, the first pub. collection of Negro spirituals, and first pub. collection of African-Am. music of any kind; it incl. Michael, Row the Boat Ashore.
In 1903 Florence, Ala.-born William Christopher "W.C." Handy (1873-1958) first hears the blues from a raggedy black man in Tutwiler, Miss.; in Sept. 1912 he pub. Memphis Blues, a "Southern rag", becoming the first blues song, pioneering the basic 3-chord 12-Bar Blues harmonic structure, gaining blues (12-measure stanzas of syncopated melody in 2/4 or 4/4 time with strong rhythmic accompaniment) wide acceptance, causing him to become known as "the Father of Blues"; sells the rights for $100; originally "Mr. Crump", composed as a campaign tune for 1909 mayoral candidate Edward Crump; inspires the foxtrot dance step by Vernon and Irene Castle of New York City. In Sept. 1914 he pub. The Saint Louis Blues, which starts out with a tango then breaks into da blues. In 1916 he pub. Beale Street Blues, followed in 1917 by Ole Miss Rag, and in 1919 by Yellow Dog Blues (originally "Yellow Dog Rag"), his most successful hit.
In 1908 Antonio Maggio pub. the ragtime song I Got the Blues, becoming the first pub. song to use the word blues.
In 1915 Jelly Roll Morton pub. (Original) Jelly Roll Blues (composed in 1905), becoming the first jazz arrangement in print.
On Mar. 7, 1917 the Original Dixieland Jass (Jazz) Band from New Orleans, La. releases Livery Stable Blues, becoming the first jazz single, sweeping the U.S. with the jazz craze; too bad, in 1917 the legalized brothels in the New Orleans, La. red light district of Storyville (since 1897) are closed, and the burgeoning jazz scene moves to the North, centering in Chicago; the original Dixieland Jazz Band opens at Reisenweber's Cafe on Columbus Circle in New York City, making a fan of Jimmy Durante, who invites him to play with him at the Alamo Club in Harlem, forming the New Orleans Jazz Band.
In 1921 Chester, Penn.-born blues singer Ethel Waters (1896-1977) releases her debut single Down Home Blues (#5 in the U.S.), followed by There'll Be Some Changes Made (1921) (#5 in the U.S.), and Sweet Georgia Brown (1925) (#6 in the U.S.), after which she expands into pop and jazz, releasing Sugar (That Sugar Baby o' Mine) (by Maceo Pinkard, Aedna Alexander, and Sidney D. Mitchell) (1926) (#9 in the U.S.), Dinah (w/The Plantation Orchestra) (by Harry Akst, Sam M. Lewis, and Joe Young) (1926) (#2 in the U.S.), and Am I Blue? (1929) (#1 in the U.S.) (by Harry Akst), from the film "On with the Show" (1929), becoming her signature tune. In 1933 she releases Stormy Weather (#1 in the U.S.).
In 1921 Black Swan Records is founded in Harlem, N.Y. to release jazz and blues records, proudly advertising itself as owned, operated by, and marketing exclusively to African-Ams.
On Feb. 16, 1923 Chattanooga, Tenn.-born blues singer Bessie Smith (1894-1973) records her first song Downhearted Blues, written by Alberta Hunter and Lovie Austin, which becomes a big hit, selling 780K in 6 mo. and 2M total, causing her to become known as "the Empress of the Blues", the #1 females blues singer of the 1920s-1930s. She follows with Baby Won't You Please Come Home (1923) (#6 in the U.S.), St. Louis Blues (by W.C. Handy) (1925) (#3 in the U.S.), After You've Gone (1927) (#7 in the U.S.), written by Turner Layton (1894-1978) and Henry Creamer (1879-1930), and Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out (by Jimmy Cox) (#15 in the U.S.) (1929) (about the 1929 Stock Market Crash) (last hit).
In 1923 Chattanooga, Tenn.-born jazz blues musician Lovie Austin (Cora Calhoun) (1887-1972) moves to Chicago, Ill., starting as a piano player in vaudeville and backing blues singers Ma Rainey, Ida Cox, Alberta Hunter et al. before starting her own band the Blue Serenaders, incl. Tommy Ladnier, Bob Shoffner, Natty Dominique, Shirley Clay, Kid Ory, Albert Wynn, Jimmy O'Bryant, and Johnny Dodds, and singing Heebie Jeebies (1926) with Louis Armstrong and his Hot Five.
In 1923 Amory, Miss.-born blues singer Lucille Bogan (nee Anderson) (1897-1948) records Pawn Shop Blues in Atlanta, Ga., becoming the first black blue singer to record outside New York City or Chicago; in 1927 she releases her first hit Sweet Petunia, followed by Sloppy Drunk Blues (1930), They (Tricks) Ain't Walkin' No More (1930), Black Angel Blues (1932), moving to New York City in 1933 under the alias Bessie Jackson and recording 100+ songs by 1935 with pianist William Roland, incl. Seaboard Blues, Superstitious Blues, Troubled Mind, Shave 'Em Dry (1935), and B.D. (Bull Dyke) Woman's Blues. She goes on to become one of the Big Three of 1920s Blues incl. Ma Rainey and Bessie Smith.
In 1923 Columbus, Ga.-born blues singer Ma Rainey (Gertrude Malissa Nix Pridgett) (1886-1939) signs with Paramount Records, recording 100 songs by 1928 incl. "C.C. Rider", "Jelly Bean Blues", "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom", and "Bo Weavil Blues", becoming known as "the Mother of the Blues".
In 1923 the Cotton Club night club in Harlem, N.Y. at 142nd St. and Lenox Ave. opens (until 1935) as a whites-only establishment featuring mainly black entertainers, incl. Louis Armstrong, Count Basie, Cab Calloway, Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday, Lena Horne, Fats Waller, Ethel Waters, the Nicholas Brothers, and Stepin Fetchit; Sun. nights are Celebrity Night, with guests incl. Fanny Brice, Eddie Cantor, Jimmy Durante, Judy Garland, George Gershwin, Moss Hart, Langston Hughes, Al Jolson, NYC Mayor Jimmy Walker et al.; in 1936-40 it repons in the midtown Theater District.
In 1926 after moving to St. Louis, Mo., Houston, Tex.-born blues singer-songwriter Victoria Regina "Queen Victoria" Spivey (1906-76) releases her first single Black Snake Blues, followed by Dope Head Blues (1927), and Organ Grinder Blues (1928). In 1961 she and jazz-blues historian Leonard "Len" "Kazoo Papa" Kunstadt (1925-96) found the blues label Spivey Records, going on to sign Big Willie Dixon, Lucille Hegamin, Lonnie Johnson, Otis Rush, Memphis Slim, Otis Spann, Roosevelt Sykes, Hannah Sylvester, Buddy Tate, Big Joe Turner, Muddy Waters, Sippie Wallace, Big Joe Williams et al.
In 1928 Smithville, Ga.-born Chicago blues guitarist Tampa Red (Hudson Woodbridge or Whittaker) (1904-81), AKA "The Man with the Gold Guitar" and "The Guitar Wizard", first black musician to play a National steel-bodied resonator guitar, becoming known for his trademark bottleneck style with single-string runs releases his first single It's Tight Like That with Villa Rica, Ga.-born blues pianist Georgia Tom (Thomas Andrew Dorsey) (1899-1993) under the name the Hokum Boys or Hokum Jug Band, breaking up in 1932 and forming the Chicago Five, a group of session musicians who create the Bluebird sound, a precursor of rock & roll bands; in 1942 Tampa Red releases Let Me Play with Your Poodle (#4 R&B), followed by When Things Go Wrong with You (It Hurts Me Too) (1949) (#9 R&B), and Pretty Baby Blues (1951) (#7 R&B); he goes on to release 251 singles by 1942, and 335 total. Meanwhile in 1932 Dorsey becomes a minister and musical dir. of Pilgrim Baptist Church in Chicago, Ill, going on to become known as "the Father of Black Gospel Music" with compositions incl. Peace in the Valley (1937), which is covered in 1951 by Red Foley and the Sunshine Boys, reaching #7 country and selling 1M copies, and Take My Hand, Precious Lord (1938), a favorite of MLK Jr., who requests Mahalia Jackson to sing it at his funeral, after which Leontyne Price sings it at LBJ's funeral, and Aretha Franklin sings it at Jackson's funeral.
In 1929 Decca Records is founded in Britain by Sir Edward Roberts Lewis (1900-80), who establishes a U.S. label in 1934, which signed big name black entertainers incl. Louis Armstrong, Count Basie, Billie Holiday, the Mills Brothers, and the Ink Spots, as well as top white entertainers incl. Judy Garland, the Andrews Sisters, and the Dorsey Brothers; too bad, WWII causes connections between the two organizations to be severed for decades.
In 1932 Bluebird Records is founded by RCA Victor to service the budget market, releasing dance music incl. George Hall and His Orchestra, Artie Shaw, Glenn Miller, Earl Hines, and Shep Fields and his Rippling Rhythm Orchestra, country artists incl. the Monroe Brothers, the Delmore Brothers, Bradley Kincaid, Jimmie Rodgers, and the Carter Family, jazz artists incl. Duke Ellington, Jelly Roll Morton, Bennie Moten, and McKinney's Cotton Pickers, and blues artists (until 1942) incl. Chicago artists Big Bill Broonzy, Tampa Red, Washboard Sam, Roosevelt Sykes, and Sonny Boy Williamson.
In 1933 New York City-born record producer and civil rights activist John Henry Hammond II (1910-87) (discoverer of Fletcher Henderson, Benny Carter, Art Tatum, Benny Goodman, Fletcher Henderson et al.) discovers Philly-born jazz-blues vocalist Billie "Lady Day" Holiday (Eleanora Fagan Gough) (1915-59), who signs in 1935 with Brunswick Records and collaborates with Austin, Tex.-born jazz pianist Theodore Shaw "Teddy" Wilson (1912-86) on the new swing jazz style, pioneering improvisation and releasing her first hit What a Little Moonlight Can Do, making her a star, going on to revamp pop tunes and turn them into jazz classics, incl. Twenty-Four Hours a Day (#6 in the U.S.), Yankee Doodle goes to Town, and I Cried for You; in 1934 jazz tenor saxophonist Lester Young rooms at her mother's boarding house, recording with her and giving her the nickname "Lady Day", while she nicknames him "Prez/Pres". In 1936 she he has a hit with Summertime from George Gershwin's "Porgy and Bess" before joining the Count Basie Orchesta in late 1937, competing against the Chick Webb Band and Ella Fitzgerald, with a battle of the bands on Jan. 16, 1938 at the Savoy Ballroom becoming a push with mag. editors put a 3-1 V for Fitzgerald, after which she is fired in Feb. 1938 and hired by the Artie Shaw Band 1 mo. later, despite being a black woman working for a white orchestra, becoming the first full-time black female singer tours the Am. South with a white bandleader; too bad, after being forced to use the service elevator at the Lincoln Hotel in New York City in Nov. 1938, she quits, releasing I'm Gonna Lock My Heart (#2 in the U.S.) in Dec., followed by Strange Fruit (by Abel Meeropol, about a lynching) on Apr. 20, 1939 for Commodore Records, becoming her biggest hit although radio stations refuse to play it ("Strange fruit hanging from the poplar tree"); in 1941 she releases God Bless the Child (co-written by Athur Herzog Jr.) (#3 in the U.S.) (1M copies), followed by Lover Man (#5 R&B), All of Me (1941), and Trav'lin Light (June 24, 1942) (#18 in the U.S.) (#1 R&B), recorded with the Paul Whiteman Band for Capitol Records. Too bad, on May 16, 1947 after reaching the top she and becoming a drug addict, leaving her hubby (since 1941) Jimmy Monroe in 1947 for her drug dealer Joe Guy, she is arrested for narcotics possession in New York City, ending up in Alderson Federal Prison Camp in W. Va. AKA Camp Cupcake, and being released for good behavior on Mar. 16, 1948 and playing to a sold-out crowd at Carnegie Hall on Mar. 27, unwittingly sticking a hatpin in some gardenias into her head and passing out; on Jan. 22, 1949 she is arrested at Hotel Mark Twain in San Francisco, Calif. befoe releasing her hit Crazy He Calls Me (Oct. 1949). In 1956 she pub. her autobio. (w/William Duffy) Lady Sings the Blues, which is filmed in 1972 starring Diana Ross. On Nov. 10, 1956 she performs two concerts at Carnegie Hall, which is released in album form in 1961 as The Essential Billie Holiday. She dies on July 17, 1959 (3:10 a.m.) at Metropolitan Hospital in New York City of cirrhosis of the liver under arrest for drug possession in a hospital bed, with a total of $750 in assets on her person, and $0.70 in the bank.
In 1936 Milwaukee, Wisc.-born jazz clarinetist-saxophonist Woodrow Charles "Woody" Herman (1913-87) founds The Herd, billed as "The Band That Plays the Blues", recording on the Decca label, starting with Wintertime Dreams on Nov. 6. In 1939 they switch to progressive jazz, releasing their first hit Woodchopper's Ball (5M copies). In Feb. 1945 they sign with Columbia Records, releasing their first hit Laura (from the 1944 film), followed by Caldonia (Feb. 26, 1945), and The Ebony Concerto (by Igor Stravinsky) (1946) before disbanding in Dec. 1946 due to Woody's wife Charlotte's alcohol-pill addiction problems; seven other big bands dissolve the same month, ending the Big Band Era. In 1947 Herman found The Second Herd AKA The Four Brothers Band, releasing Four Brothers on Dec. 27. In 1950-6 he founds the Third Herd, followed in 1959-87 by the New Thundering Herd.
In 1936-7 after allegedly making a Faustian bargain with the Devil, Hazlehust, Miss.-born blues singer Robert Leroy Johnson (1911-38) releases his landmark Miss. Delta Blues recordings that later influence Eric Clapton et al., getting him inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as an "early influence". His best-known recordings are Sweet Home Chicago, and Malted Milk. On Aug. 16, 1938 he dies a tragic early death after being poisoned by a jealous husband, becoming the first member of the 27 Club.
In Dec. 1938 6'2" 300 lb. Kansas City, Mo.-born blues shouter (black) ("The Boss of the Blues") ("The Grandfather of Rock and Roll") Joseph Vernon "Big Joe" Turner Jr. (1911-85) releases Roll 'Em Pete, featuring 12-bar blues w/up-tempo boogie woogie by pianist Pete Johnson, becoming the first rock & roll record? He follows with Cherry Red (1939), Chains of Love (by Ahmet Ertegun) (1951) (#1 R&B)) (1M copies), Honey Hush (1953) (#23 in the U.S.) (#1 R&B) (1M copies), Shake, Rattle and Roll (by Jesse Stone AKA Charles E. Calhoun) (Apr. 1954) (#22 in the U.S.) (#1 R&B) ("I've been holdin' it in, way down underneath/ You make me roll my eyes, baby, make me grit my teeth"), Flip, Flop and Fly (by Charles Calhoun) (1955), and Corrine, Corrina (1956) (#41 in the U.S.) (1M copies).
In the 1940s Jump blues is created to add the "swingy side" of big bands incl. the boogie-woogie rhythm, with artists incl. Charles Brown, Roy Brown, Cab Calloway, Wynonie Harris, Helen Humes, Louis Jordan, Roy Milton, Memphis Slim, Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee, Big Joe Turner, T-Bone Walker, and Billy Wright; in the 1980s it is revived by artists incl. Joe Jackson and Brian Setzer, later by Roomful of Blues, Mitch Woods and His Rocket 88s, Lavay Smith and Her Red Hot Skillet Lickers, and The Mighty Blues Kings.
In 1940 after Bluebird Records producer Lester Melrose gives him his stage name, Memphis, Tenn.-born jump blues musician Memphis Slim (John Len Chatman) (1915-88) releases his first hit Beer Drinking Woman, followed by Grinder Man Blues (1941), forming Slim and the House Rockers after releasing Rockin' the House (1946)), followed by Messin' Around (1947) (#1 R&B), Harlem Bound (1947), and Nobody Loves Me (Every Day I Have the Blues) (1949); in 1958 he signs with Vee-Jay Records, releasing the album Memphis Slim at the Gate of the Horn (1959), which incl. Steppin' Out, Mother Earth, and Gotta Find My Baby. In 1962 he releases the album Memphis Slim and Willie Dixon at the Village Gate with Pete Seeger (Folkways Records), incl. Stewball, and Blue Yodel #1 (T for Texas) (by Jimmie Rogers). In 1962 he moves to Paris, France for the first Am. Folk Festival Concert, staying until his 1988 death. In 1970 he releases the album Messin' Around with the Blues. In 1986 the U.S. Senate honors him with the title of ambassador-at-large of good will.
In Oct. 1942 Billboard mag. begins pub. charts for R&B Singles under the name "Harlem Hit Parade", changing it to "Race Records" in Feb. 1945, "Rhythm & Blues Records" in June 1949, and "R&B" in Oct. 1958, dropping the listing from Nov. 30, 1963-Jan. 23, 1965 because of the pop crossover from Motown, changing the title to "Soul Singles" on Aug. 23, 1969, "Black Singles" in June 1982, then back to R&B in 1990, adding "Hip-Hop" on Dec. 11, 1999.
In 1942 after leaving Benny Goodman's Orchestra in 1940, Louisville, Ky.-born "King of the Vibraphone" Lionel Leo "Hamp" Hampton (1908-2002 and his orchestra release the big band jump blues song Flying Home, featuring the honking tenor sax of Jean-Baptiste Illinois Jacquet (1922-2004), which becomes Hampton's signature tune and a prototype of the honking sax in jazz and rock & roll.
In 1944 after joining the Lionel Hampton Band in 1943, Tuscaloosa, Ala.-born jazz-blues singer ("Queen of the Blues") Dinah Washington (Ruth Lee Jones) (1924-63) signs with Keynote Records, releasing the R&B hits Evil Gal Blues, and Salty Papa Blues; in 1946 after leaving Hampton's band and signing with Mercury Records, she releases Ain't Misbehavin' (by Fats Waller), followed by a string of 27 R&B top-10 hits in 1948-55, incl. Am I Asking Too Much (1949) (#1 R&B), Baby Get Lost (1949) (#1 R&B), I Wanna Be Loved (1950) (#1 R&B) (#22 in the U.S.), and Cold, Cold Heart (1951) (#3 R&"B). On Aug. 15, 1954 she records the live album Dinah Jams with Clifford Brown and Clark Terry. In 1959 she releases What a Diff'rence a Day Made (#4 in the U.S.), followed by Unforgettable (by Irving Gordon) (1959), Baby (Youve Got What It Takes) (w/Brook Benton) (1960) (#5 in the U.S.) (#1 R&B), A Rockin' Good Way (To Mess Around and Fall in Love) (w/Brook Benton) (#1 in the U.S.) (#1 R&B), and September in the Rain (#23 in the U.S.) (#5 R&B).
In Sept. 1947 Ahmet Ertegun (1923-2006), son of a Turkish ambassador founds Atlantic Records in New York City, going on to sign and popularize Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, and The Rolling Stones.
In 1947 New Orleans, La.-born blues singer Roy James Brown (1925-81) releases Good Rocking Tonight, which popularizes the term "rocking"; it is recorded at J&M Records in New Orleans, La., owned by Cosimo Matassa (1926-2014).
Meanwhile African-Americans were busy turning R&B into rock and roll, share what you love with who you love. In 1948 Issaquena County, Miss.-born blues musician ("Father of Chicago Blues") Muddy Waters (McKinley Morganfield) (1913-83) adopts the electric guitar and releases his first hit I Can't Be Satisfied, pioneering Chicago Blues, which is incubated in the open-air market on Maxwell Street; in 1954 he releases the singles Hoochie Coochie Man (by Willie Dixon), I'm Ready, and I Just Want to Make Love to You (by Willie Dixon), "the most macho songs in his repertoire" (Robert Palmer), which turns the Rolling Stones onto him, causing them to name their group after his 1950 single Rollin' Stone.
In Sept. 1948 Miss.-born talking blues musician John Lee Hooker (1917-2001) releases the singles Boogie Chillen', Hobo Blues, and Crawling King Snake, laying the foundations for rock and roll. In 1962 he releases Boom Boom (#60 in the U.S.). In 1971 he releases the double album Endless Boogie.
In 1948 Folkways Records is founded in New York City by Warsaw, Poland-born Moses "Moe" Asch (1905-86) and Marian Distler, going on to record and release 2,168 albums documenting folk and roots music from around the world, helping launch the careers of Lead Belly, Pete Seeger, Cisco Houston, Woody Guthrie et al.; Woody Guthrie's Wilmington, Del.-born Merchant Marine friend Gilbert Vandine "Cisco" Houston (1918-61) later releases the album The Folkways Years, 1944-1961, which incl. Born 100,000 Years Ago.
In 1950 Chess Records is founded in Chicago, Ill. by Polish-born Jewish brothers Leonard Chess (Lejzor Czyz) (1917-69) and Phil Chess (Fiszel Czyz) (1921-), going on to sign R&B artists Muddy Waters, Bo Diddley, Etta James, Jackie Brenston and His Delta Cats, The Flamingos, The Moonglows, Aretha Franklin, Chuck Berry et al.; in 1952 they found Checker Records for radio play; in Dec. 1955 they found Argo Records, which changes its name in 1965 to Cadet Records.
In 1951 6'3" 275 lb. White Station, Miss.-born electric blues musician Chester Arthur "Howlin' Wolf" Burnett (1910-76) (named after U.S. Pres. Chester A. Arthur) releases How Many More Years (#4 in the U.S.), and Moanin' at Midnight (#10 in the U.S.), recorded in Memphis, Tenn., allowing him to relocate to Chicago, Ill. He follows with Smokestack Lightning (1956) (#8 in the U.S.), I Asked for Water (She give Me Gasoline) (1956) (#8 in the U.S.). Back Door Man (by Willie Dixon) (1960), Spoonful (1960), and Wang Dang Doodle (by Willie Dixon) (1960). On Jan. 11, 1962 he releases the album Howlin' Wolf (Rocking Chair Album) (#58 in the U.S.). In 1967 he, Bo Diddley (1928-2008), and Muddy Waters (1913-83) release the album The Super Blues Band.
In 1955 McComb, Miss.-born Chicago blues musician Bo Diddley (Elias Otha Bates) (Elias McDaniel) (1928-2008) (named after the homemade Diddley Bow string instrument, and known for his rectangular Gretsch guitar called the Twang Machine) releases his debut single Bo Diddley (#1 R&B), followed by Diddley Daddy (1955) (#11 R&B), Pretty Thing (1955) (#4 R&B), and Hey! Bo Diddley (1957), going on to become known as "The Originator" for facilitating the transition from blues to rock & roll. Too bad, on Nov. 20, 1955 he appears on The Ed Sullivan Show, and pisses-off Sullivan by switching from Tennessee Ernie Ford's hit "Sixteen Tons" (1955) to his own R&B #1 song "Bo Diddley (1955), getting him banned from the show; this doesn't stop him from releasing a string of good stuff, which never charts very high again, incl. You Can't Judge a Book by the Cover (1962) (#48 in the U.S.) (#21 R&B), although Pres. Barack Obama later names his Portuguese Water Dog Bo after him.
In 1956 Little Richard's friend James Joseph Brown (1933-2006), AKA The Godfather of Soul and The Hardest-Working Man in Show Business releases his first million-selling hit single Please, Please, Please with his group The Flames. When Little Richard left the music biz in Oct. 1957 to become a preacher, Brown filled out his tour dates, and several of Richard's band members joins his group, which changes its name to The Famous Flames (Bobby Byrd, Bobby Bennett, Lloyd Stallworth), after which in Feb. 1959 they releases the hit Try Me, becoming the first of 17 #1 R&B singles over the next two decades, incl. Think (1960), Night Train (1962), and Lost Someone. On Oct. 24, 1962 James Brown and the Famous Flames recorded a live album Live at the Apollo (releases in May 1963) (#2 in the U.S.), finally giving him national popularity. In 1963 he releases Prisoner of Love, his first top-20 U.S. hit. In June 1965 he releases Papa's gets a Brand New Bag (#8 in the U.S.), follow in Oct. 1965 by I gets You (I Feel Good (#3 in the U.S.). In July 1967 he releases the 7-min. track Cold Sweat (#7 in the U.S.), the first true funk song, follow in Apr. 1968 by I gets the Feelin' (#6 in the U.K.), follow in June 1969 by Mother Popcorn (You gets to Have a Mother for Me) (#11 in the U.S.). After the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. (1929-68) on Apr. 4, 1968, Brown makes public statements in Boston that helped calm blacks, who are rioting nationwide, and releases Say It Loud - I'm Black and I'm Proud, which changes America's racial vocabulary. He goes on to release 99 top-100 U.S. hits, #2 after Elvis Presley.
In 1956 Dunleith, Miss.-born blues musician (electric blues pioneer) Mathis James "Jimmy" Reed (1925-76) releases his first hit Ain't That Lovin' You Baby (#3 R&B), followed by Honest I Do (1957) (#32 in the U.S.) (#4 R&B), Little Rain (1957) (#7 R&B), Baby What You Want Me to Do (1960) (#37 in the U.S.) (#10 R&B), Big Boss Man (#78 in the U.S.) (#13 R&B), and Bright Lights, Big City (#58 in the U.S.) (#3 R&B); his songs go on to influence rock & roll artists incl. Elvis Presley, Eric Clapton, The Rolling Stones, Jerry Garcia, Billy Gibbons, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and Hank Williams Jr.
In 1958 after forming a jump blues duo in 1940, blind-black harmonica player Sonny Terry (Saunders Terrell) (1911-86) and black guitar player Walter Brown "Brownie" McGhee (1915-96) record Folk Songs of Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee for Folkways Records, which incl. Cornbread, Peas and Black Molasses, Southern Train, and Sitting on Top of the World, going on to last 45 years before splitting up.
In 1960 New Orleans, La.-born R&B singer-songwriter Jessie Hill (1932-96) releases his 1-hit wonder Ooh Poo Pah Doo (#5 R&B) (#30 in the U.S.) (800K copies).
In 1963 Plymouth, Mass.-born Dick Waterman (1935-) begins promoting blues artists, going on to found Avalon Productions, the first blues artist booking agency, signing Mississippi John Hurt, Booker "Bukka" White, Skip James, Son House, Sam "Lightnin' Hopkins, Arthur Crudup, Junior Wells, J.B. Hutto, Bonnie Raitt et al.
On Mar. 10, 1967 after launching her career with Columbia Records in 1960 and achieving only modest success, then switching to Atlantic Records, Memphis, Tenn.-born soul singer Aretha Louise Franklin (1942-) , daughter of Detroit Baptist minister ("the Man with the Million-Dollar Voice") Clarence LaVaughn "C.L." Franklin (1915-84) releases album #11 I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You (#2 in the U.S.) (#1 R&B) (#36 in the U.K.), which incl. I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You), Respect (#1 in the U.S.), Baby I Love You, Chain of Fools, (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman, and Do Right Woman, Do Right Man ("Take me to heart and I'll always love you"), going on to win the best female R&B performer Grammy every year from this year until 1974, causing her to be nicknamed "Lady Soul" and "the Queen of Soul".
In 1967 the songwriting team of Kenneth "Kenny" Gamble (1943-) and Leon A. Huff (1942-) launches Motown rival Philadelphia (Philly) Soul, which features a glockenspiel in the background and lays the groundwork for disco, going on to write and produce 170+ gold and platinum records for artists incl. The Soul Survivors, Archie Bell and The Drells, Wilson Pickett, Aretha Franklin, Dusty Springfield, The Sweet Inspirations, Jerry Butler, and Dee Dee Warwick; in 1971 they found Philadelphia Internat. Records, which signs Lou Rawls, Billy Paul, Harold Melvin and The Blue Notes, The O'Jays, and Teddy Pendergrass; in the 1970s Gamble converts to Sunni Islam under the name Luqman Abdul Haqq, and nurtures connections with Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan and Jamil Al-Amin (AKA H. Rap Brown).
In Aug. 1969 the English blues-rock supergroup Blind Faith, incl. Eric Patrick Clapton (1945-) and Ginger Baker of Cream, Steve Winwood of Traffic, and Ric Grech of Family release their #1 debut album Blind Faith, featuring Can't Find My Way Home, In the Presence of the Lord, and Sea of Joy. Billed as "Super Cream", they give a free concert at Hyde Park, London on June 7, then debut at Madison Square Garden on July 12, where an on-stage riot gets Baker clubbed on the head by a police officer; the album sells 500K copies the first mo.; too bad, the cover by Bob Seidemann features a topless pubescent girl holding a phallic silver spaceship, which backfires when rumors spread she's the group's slave groupie or Baker's illegitimate daughter, and they break up in Oct., after which Clapton forms the group Derek and the Dominos, whose debut album Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs (Nov. 1970) features the hit Layla, inspired by his unrequired love for George Harrison's wife (since 1966) Patricia Anne "Pattie" Boyd (1944-) (a former model known for rabbit-like front teeth), along with swinging 60s Scottish-born London bohemian Ian Dallas (1930-), who give him a copy of the ancient Persian Sufi parable"Layla" by Nezami Ganjavi (1141-1209), about a man who goes crazy when a beautiful woman wouldn't marry him; Clapton finally marries her in 1979, and divorces her in 1989. Meanwhile having converted to Sufi Islam in 1967 and changed his name to Abdalqadir as-Sufi, in the 1980s Dallas founds the Rabbit, er, Murabitun Worldwide Movement, with 10K followers by 2010, which preaches that the Islamic world will conquer the "Jewish dominated West", and also preaches against Capitalism.
In Aug. 1969 the first annual Ann Arbor Blues and Jazz Festival in Mich. is held, featuring B.B. King.
On June 20, 1980 John Landis' The Blues Brothers (Universal Pictures) debuts, starring John Belushi as Joliet Jake Blues, who gets out of Joliet Prison in Ill. and decides to put together his old blues band to save the Roman Catholic home where he and his brother Elwood Blues (Dan Aykroyd) were raised; features a ton of great blues numbers by Cab Calloway (as Curtis), who sings Minnie the Moocher, John Lee Hooker, who sings Boom Boom, James Brown (as Rev. Cleophus James), who sings The Old Landmark, Ray Charles (of Ray's Music Exchange in Calumet City), who sings Shake your Tail Feather, and Aretha Franklin (as Mrs. Murphy), who sings Think, and Respect; Carrie Fisher plays a mystery woman; the Blues Brothers Band incl. Steve "the Colonel" Cropper, Donald "Duck" Dunn, Murphy "Murph" Dunne, Willie "Too Big" Hall, Tom "Bones" Malone, "Blue Lou" Marini, Matt "Guitar" Murphy, and Alan "Mr. Fabulous" Rubin, who perform Rawhide, Stand By Your Man, Sweet Home Chicago, Everybody Needs Somebody to Love, and Jailhouse Rock; does $115M box office on a $30M budget; followed by "Blues Brothers 2000" (1998); on June 18, 2010 the Vatican anoints it as a film with a true Catholic message.
On Apr. 20, 1983 the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is created; it takes until 1995 for enough donations to come in to open it officially at 1100 Rock and Roll Blvd. in Cleveland, Ohio on the shores of Lake Erie (home of Alan Freed), designed by I.M. Pei. On Jan. 23, 1986 it inducts its first group of inductees incl. Chuck Berry (1926-), James Brown (1933-2006), Ray Charles (1930-2004), Sam Cooke (1931-64), Fats Domino (1928-), the Everly Brothers, Buddy Holly (1936-59), Jerry Lee Lewis (1935-), Little Richard (1932-), and Elvis Presley (1935-77). On Jan. 3, 1987 "Queen of Soul" Aretha Louise Franklin (1942-) becomes the first woman inducted. The basic requirement is 25 years lapsed since the release of the first record. Too bad, it ends up snubbing Red State favorites incl. Bon Jovi, Steve Miller Band, Kansas, Styx, Stevie Ray Vaughn, and Ted Nugent.
In 1983 Columbus, Ga.-born blues musician Robert Cray (1953-) releases album #2 Bad Influence, which incl. Bad Influence, and Phone Booth (his signature song). Album #5 Strong Persuader (Nov. 17, 1986) (2M copies) becomes his breakthrough album; it incl. Smoking Gun, I Guess I Showed Her, and Right Next Door (Because of Me).
In 1992 Washington, D.C.-born jazz-blues musician Eva Marie Cassidy (1963-96) and Go-go musician Charles Louis "Chuck" Brown (1936-2012) releases her debut studio album The Other Side; it features Over the Rainbow (by Harold Arlen and E.Y. Harburg). In May 1996 she releases her live solo album Live at Blues Alley (#86 in the U.K.), recorded on Jan. 2-3, 1996; too bad, she dies of melanoma on Nov. 2, 1996; the album incl. the tracks Bridge Over Troubled Water (by Paul Simon), People Get Ready (by Curtis Mayfield), Blue Skies (by Irving Berlin), Autumn Leaves (by Johnny Mercer, Jacques Prevert, and Joseph Kosma), and Take Me to the River (Al Green, Mabon "Teenie" Hodges). On May 19, 1998 she posth. releases the compilation album Songbird, which goes #1 in the U.K. (1M copies), launching her posth. career at the top of the charts; it incl. Songbird (by Christine McVie). On June 20, 2000 she posth. releases studio album #2 Time After Time (#25 in the U.K.) (recorded Jan. 3, 1996), featuring Ain't No Sunshine (by Bill Withers). In 2002 she posth. releases studio album #3 Imagine (#1 in the U.K.) (300K copies), featuring Imagine (by John Lennon and Yoko Ono), followed by album #3 American Tune (Aug. 12, 2003) (#1 U.K.) (100K copies), Wonderful World (July 24, 2004) (#11 in the U.K.) (100K copies), featuring What a Wonderful World (by Bob Thiele and David Weiss) (#1 in the U.K.), album #4 Somewhere (Aug. 26, 2008) (#4 in the U.K.) (100K copies), Simply Eva (2011) (#4 in the U.K.) (100K copies), The Best of Eva Cassidy (2012) (#22 in the U.K.) (100K copies), Nightbird (live album) (Nov. 13, 2015) (#17 in the U.K.) (recorded Jan. 2-3, 1996), featuring Nightbird (by Stevie Nicks).
On Jan. 28, 1997 Fargo, N.D.-born blues musician Jonny Lang (Jon Gordon Langseth Jr.) (1981-) releases album #2 Lie to Me (#44 in the U.S.) (1M copies), featuring Lie to Me, Breakin' Me, and Missing Your Love. He starts out performing barefoot until he gets enough electric shocks. Album #3 Wander This World (Oct. 20, 1998) (#28 in the U.S.) features Still Raining', and Breakin' Me. Album #4 Long Time Coming (Oct. 14, 2003) (#17 in the U.S.) features Long Time Coming, and Red Light. Album #7 Fight for My Soul (2013) (#1 blues) (#50 in the U.S.) features Fight for My Soul. Album #8 Signs (Sept. 8, 2017) In 2000 he goes from alcoholism and drug abuse to becoming a Christian.
On Oct. 24, 2000 after opening 20 shows for B.B. King in 1989 at age 12, New Hartford, N.Y.-born rock-blues musician Joe Bonamassa (1977-) releases his debut album A New Day Yesterday (named after the 1969 Jethro Tull classic), which features the tracks Miss You, Hate You, and Cradle Rock. Album #2 So, It's Like That (Aug. 13, 2002) features Pain and Sorrow. Album #6 You & Me (June 6, 2006) features Django. In 2009 he fulfills a childhood dream by playing at the Royal Albert Hall in London, with Eric Clapton playing a duet with him.
On Dec. 5, 2008 Darnell Martin's Cadillac Records debuts, about the early years of Chess Records in 1950s Chicago, starring Adrien Brody as Leonard Chess, Jeffrey Wright as Muddy Waters, Cedric the Entertainer as Willie Dixon, Eamonn Walker as Howlin' Wolf, Mos Def as Chuck Berry, and Beyonce as Etta James; does $8.8M box office on a $12M budget.
On Feb. 16, 2011 Long Beach, Calif.-born New Orleans, La.-raised alternative R&B singer-songwriter Christopher Francis "Frank" Ocean (Christopher Edwin Breaux) (1987-) releases his breakout mixtape Nostalgia, Ultra, which incl. the single Novacaine. On July 10, 2012 he releases his debut studio album Channel Orange, which incl. the singles Thinking Bout You (#32 in the U.S., #(4 in the U.K.), Pyramids (#31 R&B in the U.K.), and Sweet Life. In 2012 he comes out as gay. On Aug. 20, 2016 he releases album #2 Blonde (blond), which incl. Close to You (by Burt Bacharach, Hal David, and Stevland Morris).