A Birth of the Blues

A You Tube History of Music


This ancient page is not updated. See history tree at bottom of this page.


Featured on this page loosely in order of first recording if not record release (as possible):

Hart Wand    Lead Belly    WC Handy    Mamie Smith    Ethel Waters

Sara Martin    Trixie Smith    Ma Rainey    Bessie Smith    Clara Smith

Sylvester Weaver    Big Joe Williams    Papa Charlie Jackson    Lonnie Johnson    Blind Blake

Blind Lemon Jefferson    Jelly Roll Morton    Victoria Spivey    Texas Alexander    Big Bill Broonzy

Gus Cannon    Josh White    Scrapper Blackwell    Leroy Carr    John Hurt

Tommy Johnson    Tampa Red    Sleepy John Estes    Hammie Nixon    Charlie Patton

T-Bone Walker    Son House    Georgia White    Doctor Clayton    Robert Johnson

Sonny Boy Williamson I    Sister Rosetta Tharpe    Big Joe Turner    Big Walter Horton

Champion Jack Dupree    Robert Lockwood    Muddy Waters    Johnny Shines    Dinah Washington

Eddie Cleanhead Vinson     Charles Brown     Lightning Hopkins    Little Walter    John Lee Hooker

Floyd Jones    Moody Jones    Snooky Pryor    BB King    Little Esther Phillips

Bobby Bland    Elmore James    Sonny Boy Williamson II    Howling Wolf    Homesick James

Albert King    Freddie King   Jimmy Reed    Eric Clapton    John Mayall

Tracks are listed in chronological order by year, then alphabetically.

Listings do not reflect proper order by month or day: later oft precedes earlier.

Not on this page? See history tree below.



We have restructured the blues section. This page is no longer updated. Please see the history tree below for full history.



Birth of the Blues: Hart Wand

Hart Wand

Hart Wand, an Oklahoma City violinist and band leader, is generally credited with composing and publishing the "first" blues song, "Dallas Blues," in 1912. Wand wasn't able to record 'Dallas Blues': the version to which this history points is rendered by pianist Sue Keller.

Hart Wand   1912

   Dallas Blues

      Pianist: Sue Keller



Lead Belly, a folk and gospel singer of the same period, introduced guitar as a main medium of the blues, first recording in 1912.

Lead Belly   1912

   The Titanic

Lead Belly   1934

   Sorry Mama

   Black Betty

Lead Belly   1935

   Grey Goose

   My Baby Quit Me

Lead Belly   1941

   Cotton Fields

Lead Belly   1942

   Hitler Blues

Lead Belly   1944

   Grasshopper In My Pillow

   Where Did You Sleep Last Night

   Rock Island Line

   See See Rider

   House of the Rising Sun


Birth of the Blues: Lead Belly

Lead Belly



William Handy, a brass musician, is often called the "Father" of the blues. 'St. Louis Blues' and 'Bunch of Blues' below are recordings by Handy. 'Yellow Dog Blues', however, is thanks again to pianist Sue Keller.

William Handy   1914

   St. Louis Blues

   Yellow Dog Blues

      Pianist: Sue Keller

William Handy   1917

   Bunch of Blues

Birth of the Blues: WC Handy

William Handy


Birth of the Blues: Mamie Smith

Mamie Smith



Mamie Smith, a vaudeville singer, is the first to record vocal blues with 'Crazy Blues' in 1920, so popular that a million copies of it are sold.

Mamie Smith   1920  

   Crazy Blues

Mamie Smith   1921

   A Little Kind Treatment

   Let's Agree to Disagree

   Wang Wang Blues

Mamie Smith   1926

   Goin' Crazy With the Blues

Mamie Smith   1929  

   My Sportin' Man

Mamie Smith   1931  

   Jenny's Ball

Mamie Smith   1935  

   Harlem Blues



Ethel Waters (Blackbird) first recorded in 1921, first a couple jazz songs ('The New York Glide' and 'At the New Jump Steady Ball'), then a couple blues tunes ('Oh Daddy' and 'Down Home Blues'). Waters can also be found in A Birth of Swing Jazz.

Ethel Waters   1921

   Down Home Blues

   Oh Daddy

   Am I Blue?

   Am I Blue?

       Film: 'On With the Show'


Birth of the Blues: Ethel Waters

Ethel Waters


Birth of the Blues: Sara Martin with Sylvester Weaver

Sara Martin    Sylvester Weaver



Sara Martin was an enormously popular blues vocalist who started her career doing vaudeville, later moving on to jug band music. Her first release, 'T'aint Nobody's Business', was in 1922.

Sara Martin   1922

   Ain't Nobody's Business If I Do

Sara Martin   1923

   Mistreated Mama

      With Sylvester Weaver

Sara Martin   1924

   I'm Gonna Be a Lovin' Old Soul

      Jug band

Sara Martin   1928

   Death Stung Me Blues

      With King Oliver





Trixie Smith first recorded in 1922 with 'My Man Rocks Me (With One Steady Roll)'.

Trixie Smith   1922

   My Man Rocks Me

Trixie Smith   1938

   Freight Train Blues

   Jack, I'm Mellow

Birth of the Blues: Trixie Smith

Trixie Smith


Birth of the Blues: Ma Rainey

Ma Rainey


During the same year, 1923, Ma Rainey released her first recordings, 'Bad Luck Blues' and 'Bo-Weavil Blues'.

Ma Rainey   1923  

   Bad Luck Blues

   Bo-Weavil Blues

   Moonshine Blues

Ma Rainey   1924  

   Booze and Blues


Bessie Smith released her first recording, 'Down Hearted Blues', in 1923.

Bessie Smith   1923

   Down Hearted Blues

      Bass: Tom Klowsky   Guitar: Mary

   Any Woman's Blues

      With Mary Scott

   Baby Won't You Please Come Home

   T'ain't Nobody's Business If I Do

Bessie Smith   1925

   Careless Love Blues

   I Ain't Got Nobody

   Yellow Dog Blues

Bessie Smith   1927

   After You've Gone

Bessie Smith   1929  

   Blue Spirit Blues

   I'm Wild About That Thing

   Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out

Bessie Smith   1931

   I Need a Little Sugar In My Bowl

Bessie Smith      1933

   Give Me a Pigfoot


Birth of the Blues: Bessie Smith


Bessie Smith

Birth of the Blues: Clara Smith

Clara Smith


Clara Smith first recorded in 1923 with Bessie Smith and Fletcher Henderson. She would cut 122 tracks until 1932, then die of heart attack in 1935.

Clara Smith   1923

   Far Away Blues

       With Bessie Smith and Fletcher Henderson

Clara Smith   1924

   Don't Advertise Your Man

Clara Smith   1926

   Look Where The Sun Done Gone

Clara Smith   1928

   Ain't Got Nobody To Grind My Coffee

Clara Smith   1929

   Oh Mister Mitchell



Blues guitarist Sylvester Weaver's first recordings in 1923 (with Sara Martin, above), 'Longing for Daddy Blues' and 'I've Got to Go and Leave My Daddy Behind', are unfound for this history. But two weeks later he cut a couple tracks, 'Guitar Blues' and 'Guitar Rag', the latter below.

Sylvester Weaver   1923

   Guitar Rag

Sylvester Weaver   1927

   Bottle Neck Blues

      With Walter Beasley



Like early jazz which had two main branches, developing out of Chicago in the north and New Orleans in the south, so it was with the blues, musicians gravitating to Chicago in the north and the Mississippi Delta in the south. Big Joe Williams, an early Delta blues musician, often played a nine-string guitar. He released 'Baby Don't Leave Me' in 1923, about ten years later than Lead Belly's first recording (1912), with Dad Tracy, a one-string violinist.

Big Joe Williams   1923

   Baby Please Don't Go

   Baby Please Don't Go

       Live performance 1965

Big Joe Williams   1935

   Little Leg Woman

   Providence Help the Poor People

   Somebody's Been Borrowin' That Stuff

Big Joe Williams   1937

   I Won't Be In Hard Luck No More

Big Joe Williams   1941

   Crawling King Snake

   Someday Baby

Big Joe Williams   1947

   Banta Rooster Blues

Big Joe Williams   1961

   Shaggy Hound Blues

Big Joe Williams   1966

   She Left Me a Mule to Ride


Birth of the Blues: Big Joe Williams

Big Joe Williams



Banjo player Papa Charlie Jackson mixed blues with ragtime, first recording in 1924, 'Airy Man Blues' and 'Lawdy Lawdy Blues' among his first. (The recordings of those two songs below are scratchy, but all that could be found.)

Papa Charlie Jackson   1924

   Airy Man Blues

Papa Charlie Jackson   1924

   Lawdy Lawdy Blues

Papa Charlie Jackson   1925

   All I Want Is a Spoonful

Papa Charlie Jackson   1925

   Drop That Sack

Papa Charlie Jackson   1925

   Take Me Back Blues

Papa Charlie Jackson   1926

   The Judge Cliff Davis Blues

Papa Charlie Jackson   1929

   Hot Papa Blues


Birth of the Blues: Papa Charlie Jackson

Papa Charlie Jackson


Birth of the Blues: Lonnie Johnson

Lonnie Johnson


Guitarist and violinist Lonnie Johnson first recorded in 1925 as the prize of winning a blues contest. Johnson plays violin on 'Ball and Chain Blues' below.

Lonnie Johnson   1925

   Ball and Chain Blues

Lonnie Johnson   1925

   Fallin' Rain Blues

Lonnie Johnson   1926

   Five O'clock Blues

Lonnie Johnson   1926

   Mr. Johnson Blues

Lonnie Johnson   1928

   Broken Levee Blues

Lonnie Johnson   1930

   Long Black Train

Lonnie Johnson   1938

   New Fallin' Rain Blues

Lonnie Johnson   1939

   She's Only a Woman

Lonnie Johnson   1942

   The Devil's Woman



Guitarist Blind Blake was a prolific recording artist. Blending blues with ragtime, his first release was 'Early Morning Blues' in 1926 with 'West Coast Blues' on the B side.

Blind Blake   1926

   Early Morning Blues

Blind Blake   1926

   West Coast Blues

Blind Blake   1926

    Vocalist: Leola Wilson

   Back Biting Bee Blues

Blind Blake   1926

   Blake's Worried Blues

Blind Blake   1926

   Come On Boys Let's Do That Messin' Around

Blind Blake   1926

    Vocalist: Leola Wilson

   Down the Country

Blind Blake   1926

   Skeedle Loo Doo Blues

Blind Blake   1926

   Stonewall Street Blues

Blind Blake   1926

   Tampa Bound

Blind Blake   1926

   Too Tight

Blind Blake   1927

   Hard Road Blues

Blind Blake   1927

   He's In the Jailhouse Now

Blind Blake   1927

   Wabash Rag

Blind Blake   1929

   Georgia Bound


Birth of the Blues: Blind Blake

Blind Blake


Birth of the Blues: Blind Lemon Jefferson

Blind Lemon Jefferson


Blind Lemon Jefferson was a traveling guitarist who first recorded in 1926 with 'I Want to Be Like Jesus In My Heart' and 'All I Want is that Pure Religion', both below.

Blind Lemon Jefferson   1926

   All I Want Is That Pure Religion

Blind Lemon Jefferson   1926

   I Want To Be Like Jesus In My Heart

Blind Lemon Jefferson   1927

   Black Snake Moan

Blind Lemon Jefferson   1927

   Easy Rider Blues

Blind Lemon Jefferson   1927

   Lonesome House Blues

Blind Lemon Jefferson   1927

   Match Box Blues

Blind Lemon Jefferson   1927

   See That My Grave Is Kept Clean



Pianist Jelly Roll Morton and his band, the Red Hot Peppers, released 'Jelly Roll Blues' in 1926. Jelly Roll is a pivotal figure in early jazz transitioning from ragtime and will be found in Jazz 2 as well.

Jelly Roll Morton   1923  

   King Porter Stomp

Jelly Roll Morton   1926   

   Jelly Roll Blues

Jelly Roll Morton   1930  

   Blue Blood Blues

Jelly Roll Morton   1938  

   Hesitation Blues

Jelly Roll Morton   1938  

   Honky Tonk Blues

Jelly Roll Morton   1939

   Buddy Bolden's Blues

Jelly Roll Morton   1939  

   West End Blues


Birth of the Blues: Jelly Roll Morton

Jelly Roll Morton



Birth of the Blues: Victoria Spivey

Victoria Spivey


Victoria Spivey first records with 'Black Snake Blues' and 'Dirty Woman Blues' in 1926.

Victoria Spivey   1926  

   Black Snake Blues

Victoria Spivey   1927  

   Dope Head Blues

Victoria Spivey   1929

   How Do They Do It That Way         

Victoria Spivey   1929  

   Moaning the Blues

Victoria Spivey   1929

   Don't Trust Nobody Blues

Victoria Spivey   1934  

   Any Kind of Man

Victoria Spivey   1936  

   Detroit Moan  

Victoria Spivey   1963  

   T B Blues

Victoria Spivey   1976  

   You're My Man (Slick Chick Blues)



Blues singer Texas Alexander began recording in 1927 with 'Range In My Kitchen Blues'. But he never sang the blues like he would upon murdering his wife in 1939. After serving only five years in prison he resumed his career until his death, of syphilis, in 1954. Some mistakenly believe that Alexander was the first to record 'The House Of the Rising Sun'. The song of the matter is 'The Rising Sun' below. It is obviously a different song. (The first to record 'The House Of the Rising Sun' was country western musician Clarence Ashley in 1933. Ashley can be found in A Birth of Country Western.)

Texas Alexander   1927

   Range In My Kitchen

Texas Alexander   1927

   Corn-Bread Blues

Texas Alexander   1928

   Deep Sea Blues

Texas Alexander   1928

    Cornet: King Oliver

   Frisco Train Blues

Texas Alexander   1928

   The Rising Sun

Texas Alexander   1928

   Yellow Girl Blues

Texas Alexander   1929

     With Little Hat Jones

   Double Crossing Blues

Texas Alexander   1934

   Frost Texas Tornado Blues

Texas Alexander   1934

   Seen Better Days


Birth of the Blues: Alger Texas Alexander

Alger Texas Alexander



Birth of the Blues: Big Bill Broonzy

Big Bill Broonzy



Hailing from Arkansas, guitarist Big Bill Broonzy first recorded in 1927, 'Big Bill Blues' and 'House Rent Stomp' among his first.

Big Bill Broonzy   1927

   Big Bill Blues

Big Bill Broonzy   1927

   House Rent Stomp

Big Bill Broonzy   1932

   Long Tall Mama

Big Bill Broonzy   1934

   Mississippi Blues

Big Bill Broonzy   1941

   I Feel So Good

Big Bill Broonzy   1956

   When Did You Leave Heaven



Mississippi-born banjo player Gus Cannon first recorded in 1927. In 1928 he formed the Jug Stompers. Though the group disbanded in 1930, after which Cannon largely retired, some twenty years he revived his career, next recording in 1956.

Gus Cannon   1927

   Big Railroad Blues

Gus Cannon   1927

   Can You Blame the Colored Man

Gus Cannon   1927

   Hollywood Rag

Gus Cannon   1927

   Madison Street Blues

Gus Cannon   1927

   Minglewood Blues

Gus Cannon   1927

   My Money Never Runs Out

Gus Cannon   1927

   Poor Boy, Long Ways From Home

Gus Cannon   1928

   Walk Right In

Gus Cannon   1929

   Going to Germany

Gus Cannon   1930

   Pretty Mama Blues


Birth of the Blues: Gus Cannon

Gus Cannon


Birth of the Blues: Josh White

Josh White


Josh White, guitarist, got his first taste of blues as a child rendering services for blind street singers. He became a session guitarist for Paramount in 1927, making many recordings as a backup musician before producing his first single in 1932.

Josh White   1932

   Baby Won't You Doodle-Doo-Doo

Josh White   1932

   Crying Blues

Josh White   1932

   Double Crossing Woman

Josh White   1932

   Downhearted Man Blues

Josh White   1932

   Good Gal

Josh White   1932

   Greenville Sheik

Josh White   1932

   High Brown Cheater

Josh White   1932

   Howling Wolf Blues

Josh White   1932

   Lazy Black Snake Blues

Josh White   1932

   Little Brother Blues

Josh White   1935

   Black Man

Josh White   1935

   Low Cotton

Josh White   1935

   Milk Cow Blues



Birth of the Blues: Leroy Carr and Scrapper Blackwell

Leroy Carr   Scrapper Blackwell


Pianist Leroy Carr and guitarist Scrapper Blackwell formed their partnership in 1928. Their first release in 1928, 'How Long Blues', was the best-selling blues tune that year.

Scrapper Blackwell & Leroy Carr  1928

   How Long Blues

Scrapper Blackwell & Leroy Carr   1934

   Blue Night Blues

Scrapper Blackwell & Leroy Carr   1928

   Blues Before Sunrise

Scrapper Blackwell & Leroy Carr   1932

   Midnight Hour Blues



Folk guitarist Mississippi John Hurt went to Memphis and New York City in 1928 to record six 78s (12 songs) for Okeh Records. They sold so poorly that he returned to obscurity in Avalon, Mississippi. Rediscovered in 1963, he then released his first album, only to die of heart attack three years later.

Mississippi John Hurt   1928

   Ain't No Tellin'

Mississippi John Hurt   1928

   Avalon Blues

Mississippi John Hurt   1928

   Blessed Be the Name

Mississippi John Hurt   1928

   Blue Harvest Blues

Mississippi John Hurt   1928

   Candy Man Blues

Mississippi John Hurt   1928


Mississippi John Hurt   1928

   Got the Blues (Can't Be Satisfied)

Mississippi John Hurt   1928

   Louis Collins

Mississippi John Hurt   1928

   Nobody's Dirty Business

Mississippi John Hurt   1928

   Praying On the Old Camp Ground

Mississippi John Hurt   1928

   Spike Driver Blues

Mississippi John Hurt   1928

   Stack O' Lee Blues

Mississippi John Hurt   1963

   Coffee Blues


Birth of the Blues: Mississippi John Hurt

Mississippi John Hurt



Birth of the Blues: Tommy Johnson

Tommy Johnson



Delta blues guitarist Tommy Johnson released his first recordings in 1928.

Tommy Johnson 1928

   Alcohol and Jake Blues

Tommy Johnson 1928

   Bye Bye Blues

Tommy Johnson 1928

   Canned Heat Blues

Tommy Johnson 1928

   Cool Drink Of Water Blues

Tommy Johnson 1928

   Fat Mama Blues



Slide guitarist Tampa Red got his start with Ma Rainey. His first recording was 'It's Tight Like That' in 1928.

Tampa Red   1928

   It's Tight Like That

Tampa Red   1929

   Denver Blues

Tampa Red   1929

    Vocals: Jenny Page

   Whiskey Drinking Blues

Tampa Red   1932

   You Can't Get That Stuff No More

Tampa Red   1938

   Let Me Play With Your Poodle

Tampa Red   1940

   Don't You Lie To Me

Tampa Red   1940

   It Hurts Me Too


Birth of the Blues: Tampa Red

Tampa Red


Birth of the Blues: Sleepy John Estes

Sleepy John Estes


Hammie Nixon was a jug band musician who played another major instrument of the blues, the harmonica. Nixon enjoyed a long musical relationship with guitarist Sleepy John Estes. Their first recordings together in 1929 are unfound for this history.

Sleepy John Estes & Hammie Nixon  1929

   Someday Baby Blues

Sleepy John Estes & Hammie Nixon  1976

   Corinne Corrine

Sleepy John Estes & Hammie Nixon  1976

   I Ain't Gonna Sell It

Sleepy John Estes   1938

   Everybody Ought to Make a Change

Sleepy John Estes   1965


Sleepy John Estes   1995

   Black Mattie


Birth of the Blues: Hammie Nixon

Hammie Nixon


Birth of the Blues: Charlie Patton

Charley Patton


Charlie Patton was a Mississippi Delta blues guitarist. Though writing blues songs as early as 1910 he didn't record anything until 1929, fourteen titles for Paramount Records in Indiana, 'Pony Blues' his first.

Charlie Patton   1929

   Pony Blues

Charlie Patton   1929

   Rattlesnake Blues

Charlie Patton   1929

   Shake It and Break It

Charlie Patton   1930

   Moon Goin' Down

Charlie Patton   1934

   '34 Blues

Charlie Patton   1934

   Revenue Man Blues

Charlie Patton   1934

   Yellow Bee



T-Bone Walker was the first musician to record electric guitar. He began his recording career in 1929 with 'Trinity River Blues' and 'Wichita Falls Blues'. He also played with a lot of jazz musicians and, like Muddy Waters, would have great prestige in the development of rock and roll. More T-Bone Walker in A Birth of Rock & Roll.

T-Bone Walker   1929

   Trinity River Blues

T-Bone Walker   1929

   Wichita Falls Blues

T-Bone Walker   1940

   T-Bone Blues

T-Bone Walker   1942

   Mean Old World

T-Bone Walker   1946

   Bobby Sox Blues

T-Bone Walker   1947

   Call It Stormy Monday

T-Bone Walker   1948

   West Side Baby


Birth of the Blues: T-Bone Walker

T-Bone Walker

Birth of the Blues: Son House

Son House


The first recordings by guitarist Son House in 1930 below are of poor quality, but they were at least available.

Son House   1930

   Clarksdale Moan

Son House   1930

   Dry Spell Blues Part 1

Son House   1930

   Dry Spell Blues Part 2

Son House   1930

   Mississippi County Farm Blues

Son House   1930

   Preachin' the Blues Part 1

Son House   1930

   Preachin' the Blues Part 2

Son House   1930

   Walking Blues



'When You're Smiling, the Whole World Smiles With You' was jazz singer Georgia White's first recording in 1930. Unfortunately no examples earlier than 1936 could be found for this history.

Georgia White   1936

   Get 'Em From The Peanut Man

Georgia White   1936

   I Just Want To Be Your Stingaree

Georgia White   1936

   Tell Me Baby

Georgia White   1936

   Was I Drunk

Georgia White   1937

   Alley Boogie

Georgia White   1937

   The Stuff Is Here


Birth of the Blues: Georgia White

Georgia White


Birth of the Blues: Doctor Clayton

Doctor Clayton


Blues singer Doctor Clayton's first recordings in 1935 are unfound for this history. The earliest release listed below is 'Pearl Harbor Blues' in 1942.

Doctor Clayton   1942

   Pearl Harbor Blues

Doctor Clayton   1942

   On the Killin' Floor



Robert Johnson, also a Delta blues guitarist, made his first recording, 'Kind Hearted Woman Blues' in 1936. He would die only two years later.

Robert Johnson 1936

   Kind Hearted Woman Blues

Robert Johnson   1936

   Come On In My Kitchen

Robert Johnson   1936

   Crossroad Blues

Robert Johnson   1936

   I Believe I'll Dust My Broom

Robert Johnson   1936

   Last Fair Deal Gone Down

Robert Johnson   1936

   Terraplane Blues


Birth of the Blues: Robert Johnson

Robert Johnson



Birth of the Blues: Sonny Boy Williamson I

Sonny Boy Williamson I


Sonny Boy Williamson I also played harmonica, first recording in 1937 with 'Good Morning Little School Girl'.

Sonny Boy Williamson I   1937

   Good Morning Little School Girl

Sonny Boy Williamson I   1941

   Good Gal Blues



Gospel singer and guitarist Sister Rosetta Tharpe released her first four recordings in 1938, 'My Man and I', below, among them. Tharpe will also be found in A Birth of Jazz 3 and A Birth of Rock and Roll.

Sister Rosetta Tharpe   1938

   My Man and I

Sister Rosetta Tharpe   1941

   Stand By Me

Sister Rosetta Tharpe   1961

   Lonesome Road


Birth of the Blues: Sister Rosetta Tharpe

Sister Rosetta Tharpe



Vocalist Big Joe Turner, first recording in 1938 ('Roll Em Pete' in A Birth of Rock and Roll), was an important early rocker as well.

Big Joe Turner   1939

   Going Away Blues

Big Joe Turner   1941

   Rocks In My Bed

Big Joe Turner   1956

   How Long Blues


Birth of the Blues: Big Joe Turner

Big Joe Turner


Birth of the Blues: Big Walter Horton

Big Walter Horton

Big Walter Horton (Shakey), an harmonica player from Memphis, first pursued Mississippi Delta blues, then became involved with the Chicago blues. He first recorded in 1939 (unfound). Due to poor health he dropped out of the music scene for several years in the forties. Later resuming his career, among his first releases was 'Evening Sun' (1953) with Johnny Shines.

Big Walter Horton   1953

    With Johnny Shines

   Evening Sun



Birth of the Blues: Champion Jack Dupree

Champion Jack Dupree


Pianist Champion Jack Dupree, so named because he had been a boxer, first recorded his Chicago blues in 1940. Dupree first only sang 'Careless Love' (written by William Handy in 1926) for Papa Bue's 1962 rendition, but a later piano solo in 1991 reveals his beautiful command of the keyboard.

Champion Jack Dupree   1940

   Angola Blues

Champion Jack Dupree   1940

   Black Woman Swing

Champion Jack Dupree   1940

   Cabbage Greens

Champion Jack Dupree   1940

   Junker's Blues

Champion Jack Dupree   1954

   Shim Sham Shimmy

Champion Jack Dupree   1962

    Vocals for Papa Bue

   Careless Love

Champion Jack Dupree   1963

   Weed Head Woman

Champion Jack Dupree   1991

    Piano solo

   Careless Love



Guitarist Robert Lockwood made his first recording, 'Black Spider Blues', with blues vocalist Doctor Clayton in 1941.

Robert Lockwood   1941

    With Doctor Clayton

   Black Spider Blues

Robert Lockwood   1941

   I'm Gonna Train My Baby

Robert Lockwood   1951

   I'm Gonna Dig Myself a Hole

Robert Lockwood   1996

   I Gotta Find Me a Woman


Birth of the Blues: Robert Lockwood

Robert Lockwood


Birth of the Blues: Muddy Waters

Muddy Waters


Muddy Waters released his first recording, 'Country Blues', in 1941. Waters will be found in A Birth of Rock & Roll as well.

Muddy Waters   1941  

   Country Blues

Muddy Waters   1950  

   Rollin' Stone (Catfish Blues)



Birth of the Blues: Johnny Shines

Johnny Shines


Guitarist Johnny Shines first toured the south, then became involved with the Chicago blues. He first began recording in 1942, but couldn't, for several years, find a label that would release his sound to the public. When he did finally make his first release in 1953, with Big Walter Horton, the sales were so bad that he quit music and became a construction worker. He was discovered again in a Chicago blues bar, taking photographs, which led to recording with Horton again in 1966. This Birth of the Blues otherwise pauses, before entering into the sixties via artists whose careers were in their infancy in relevance to Shines'.

Johnny Shines   1953

    With Walter Horton

   Brutal Hearted Woman

Johnny Shines   1966

    With Walter Horton

   Black Spider Blues

Johnny Shines   1966

    With Walter Horton

   Layin' Down My Shoes and Clothes



Jazz singer Dinah Washington released her first recording, 'Evil Gal Blues', in 1943 with Lionel Hampton. More Dinah Washington can be found in Jazz 8 as well.

Dinah Washington   1943

    With Lionel Hampton

   Evil Gal Blues

Dinah Washington   1944

   Salty Papa Blues


Birth of the Blues: Dinah Washington

Dinah Washington


Birth of the Blues: Eddie Cleanhead Vinson

Eddie Cleanhead Vinson


Alto saxophonist and vocalist Eddie Cleanhead Vinson learned his lesson about using hair straightening products when one containing lye left him nary a strand. Though his hair grew back he decided he liked the more elegant look which that accident had brought him, so kept his head shaved thereafter. Born in 1917, Vinson joined the Milton Larkin Orchestra in the latter thirties, toured with Big Bill Broonzy shortly thereafter, then joined the Cootie Williams Orchestra, with whom he first recorded, in 1942. Vinson formed his own band in 1945. His first album under his own name is believed to be 'Mr. Cleanhead Steps Out', produced in 1947, including the track, 'Kidney Stew Blues', below.

Eddie Vinson   1944

    With the Cootie Williams Orchestra

   Somebody's Got to Go

Eddie Vinson   1944

    With the Cootie Williams Orchestra

   Juice Head Baby

Eddie Vinson   1945

    With the Cootie Williams Orchestra

   When My Baby Left Me

Eddie Vinson   1947

   Kidney Stew Blues

Eddie Vinson   1947

   Wait a Minute Baby

Eddie Vinson   1961

    With Cannonball Adderley

   Bright Lights Big City

Eddie Vinson   1967

   Alimony Blues

Eddie Vinson   1967

   Cadillac Blues

Eddie Vinson   1967

   Cherry Red

Eddie Vinson   1967

   Flat Broke Blues

Eddie Vinson   1967

   Goodnight Baby Blues

Eddie Vinson   1967

   Somebody's Got to Go

Eddie Vinson   1987

     Live 1986

   Cleanhead Blues/Old Maid Boogie



Born in 1922, pianist Charles Brown left Texas for Los Angeles where he played the local blues clubs which led to his first recording, 'Driftin' Blues', in 1945. Brown is among the most highly underrated blues musicians.

Charles Brown   1945

   Driftin' Blues

Charles Brown   1951

   Black Night

Charles Brown   1951

   Rockin' Blues

Birth of the Blues: Charles Brown

Charles Brown


Birth of the Blues: Lightning Hopkins

Lightnin' Hopkins



Guitarist, Lightning Hopkins, born in Houston, added his Texas sound to the blues, his first recording, 'Katie Mae', in 1946.

Lightnin' Hopkins   1946

   Katie Mae

Lightnin' Hopkins   1946

   Bald Headed Woman

Lightnin' Hopkins   1947

   Short Haired Woman

Lightnin' Hopkins   1949

   Baby Please Don't Go

Lightnin' Hopkins   1966


   Rock Me Baby

Lightnin' Hopkins   1966

     Live performance

   Rock Me Baby



Harmonica player, Little Walter, was the first to amplify harmonica, holding the instrument to the microphone. His first recording, 'Ora-nelle Blues' was released in 1947. More of Little Walter in our You Tube Birth of Rock and Roll.

Little Walter   1947

   Ora-nelle Blues

Little Walter   1952

   Blue Midnight

Little Walter   1954

   Last Night

Little Walter   1955

   My Babe

Little Walter   1955

   Boom, Boom Out Go the Lights

Little Walter   1957

   Key to the Highway


Birth of the Blues: Little Walter

Little Walter


Birth of the Blues: John Lee Hooker

John Lee Hooker



Guitarist, John Lee Hooker, first recorded in 1948, the year before Lead Belly died (1949). Unlike Lead Belly, who played acoustic, Hooker got himself an electric guitar. More John Lee Hooker in A Birth of Folk Music under Ry Cooder.

John Lee Hooker   1948  

   Boogie Chillen

John Lee Hooker   1948

   Goin' Down Highway 51  

John Lee Hooker   1948

   Wednesday Evening Blues

John Lee Hooker   1963

   This Is Hip

John Lee Hooker   1980

     With Ry Cooder

   This Is Hip

John Lee Hooker   2001

   Boogie Chillun



Guitarist, Floyd Jones, born in Arkansas, was a Delta blues musician before becoming involved with the Chicago blues. He first released 'Stockyard Blues' with Snooky Pryor in 1948. That recording is unfound for this history, but a later performance by Jones in 1970 is listed below. Jones also recorded with pianist Sunnyland Slim, below.

Floyd Jones   1948

     Live performance 1970

   Stockyard Blues

Floyd Jones   1952

     With Sunnyland Slim

   Dark Road


Birth of the Blues: Floyd Jones

Floyd Jones


Birth of the Blues: Moody Jones

Moody Jones


Guitarist Moody Jones, brother of Floyd Jones, released his first recording, with Snooky Pryor, in 1948 as well. Gospel oriented, he quit music in 1955 to become a pastor.

Moody Jones   1948

     With Snooky Pryor

   Telephone Blues



Snooky Pryor, another Chicago blues musician first released, 'Telephone Blues', in 1948 with Moody Jones, under Moody Jones above.

Snooky Pryor   1952

   Boogie Twist

Snooky Pryor   1956

   Judgment Day

Snooky Pryor   1994

   In This Mess Up To My Chest


Birth of the Blues: Snooky Pryor

Snooky Pryor


Birth of the Blues: BB King

BB King



About the same time BB King (Riley B. King) released his first recording, 'Miss Martha King', in 1949, and electric guitar becomes fairly institutionalized as the major instrument of the blues.

BB King   1949  

   Miss Martha King

BB King   1953  

   Highway Bound

BB King   1957  

   Early In the Morning

BB King   1970

   Nobody Loves Me But My Mother

BB King   1971  

   Sweet Thing

BB King   1987

     Live with Albert King, Eric Clapton & Stevie Ray Vaughan

   Why I Sing the Blues

BB King   1995

   Catfish Blues (Fishin' After Me)



Little Esther Phillips was discovered by Johnny Otis, with whom she made her first recordings in 1950. Gradually taking her sound the soul and rhythm and blues direction, she died at the relatively young age of 49 upon kidney and liver failures due to drug use. She created her last album, 'A Way to Say Goodbye', in 1983 (released 1986). For more of bandleader Johnny Otis see A Birth of Rock n Roll.

Esther Phillips   1950

    With the Johnny Otis Orchestra

   Double Crossing Blues

Esther Phillips   1950

    With the Johnny Otis Orchestra

   Deceivin' Blues

Esther Phillips   1950

    With the Johnny Otis Orchestra

   Mistrustin' Blues

Esther Phillips   1952


Esther Phillips   1952


Esther Phillips   1953

   Cherry Wine

Esther Phillips   1965

    Live 1966

   And I Love Him

Esther Phillips   1966

   Release Me

Esther Phillips   1966

   A Taste Of Honey

Esther Phillips   1966

   Try Me

Esther Phillips   1966

   When a Woman Loves a Man

Esther Phillips   1971

   One Night Affair

Esther Phillips   1972

   Home Is Where the Hatred Is

Esther Phillips   1975

    Live television performance

   What a Difference a Day Makes

Esther Phillips   1976

   A Beautiful Friendship

Esther Phillips   1976


Esther Phillips   1976

   I Haven't Got Anything Better To Do

Esther Phillips   1983

   A Way to Say Goodbye

Esther Phillips   1983

   We Are Through


Birth of the Blues: Little Esther Phillips

Little Esther Phillips




Soul singer Bobby Bland released his first single ('Booted' with 'I Love You Til the Day I Die' flip side) in 1951 (unfound). He produced several more singles in 1952, one among them below. More Bobby Bland in A Birth of Rock & Roll.

Bobby Bland   1952

   Drifting From Town To Town

Bobby Bland   1963

   Farther On Up the Road

Bobby Bland   1967


Bobby Bland   2006

   Ain't No Sunshine


Birth of the Blues: Bobby Blue Bland

Bobby Blue Bland



Birth of the Blues: Elmore James

Elmore James



Elmore James, another Delta blues guitarist, released his first recording, 'Dust My Broom', in 1951.

Elmore James   1951

   Dust My Broom

Elmore James   1955

   Blues Before Sunrise

Elmore James   1957

   Coming Home

Elmore James   1957

   Cry For Me

Elmore James   1957

   It Hurts Me Too

Elmore James   1960

   The Sky Is Crying

Elmore James   1960

   The Sun Is Shining

Elmore James   1961

   Shake Your Money Maker

Elmore James   1969

   Done Somebody Wrong



Sonny Boy Williamson II (also known as Rice Miller) was yet another Delta blues musician, 'Eyesight To The Blind' among his first recordings in 1951.

Sonny Boy Williamson II   1951

   Eyesight To the Blind

Sonny Boy Williamson II   1953

   Clownin' With the World

Sonny Boy Williamson II   1953

   Shuckin' Mama

Sonny Boy Williamson II   1954

   Goin’ In Your Direction

Sonny Boy Williamson II   1963

   Bring It On Home

Sonny Boy Williamson II   1963

   Help Me


Birth of the Blues: Sonny Boy Williamson II

Sonny Boy Williamson II


Birth of the Blues: Howling Wolf

Howlin' Wolf


Howling Wolf, guitar and harmonica, first recorded in 1951, 'Moanin' At Midnight' and 'How Many More Years'. The version of 'How Many More Years' below is from a later recording in 1966.

Howlin' Wolf   1951

    Version 1966

   How Many More Years

Howlin' Wolf   1951

   Moanin' At the Moon

Howlin' Wolf   1954  

    Version 1968


Howlin' Wolf   1956

   Smokestack Lightning

Howlin' Wolf   1964

   I'll Be Back Someday

Howlin' Wolf   1964

   Shake It For Me

Howlin' Wolf   1966

   Dust My Broom

Howlin' Wolf   1967




'Homesick' and 'Lonesome Ole Train' were Homesick James' first recordings in 1952. Unfortunately they are unfound for this history. James was a (slide) guitarist.

Homesick James   1964

   Homesick's Shuffle

Homesick James   1980

    With Snooky Pryor

   Sad & Lonesome


Birth of the Blues: Homesick James

Homesick James


Birth of the Blues: Albert King

Albert King



Guitarist Albert King (older brother of Freddie King but not related to BB King) began his professional career in 1950 with the Groove Boys. He released his first single, 'Be On Your Merry Way' in 1953 with 'Bad Luck Blues' (unfound) flip side. King didn't release an album until 1962, 'The Big Blues' (followed by 'Born Under a Bad Sign' in '67).

Albert King   1953

   Be On Your Merry Way

Albert King   1970

   Oh, Pretty Woman

Albert King   1978

   Feel Like Breakin' Up Somebody's Home

Albert King   1983

    Live with Stevie Ray Vaughan

   Born Under a Bad Sign

Albert King   1992

   Red House



Freddie King (younger brother of Albert King but not related to BB King), guitar and harmonica, first recorded the same year as his older brother although those cuts have never been released. He afterward spent a few years as a sideman for various musicians (such as Muddy Waters) before his first release, 'Country Boy', with Margaret Whitfield in 1956. With the exception of 'Country Boy' all tracks below are live performances.

Freddie King   1956

    With Margaret Whitfield

   Country Boy

Freddie King   1966

   Funny Bone

Freddie King   1966

   I Love the Woman

Freddie King   1966

   Tore Down

Freddie King   1971

   Going Down

Freddie King   1972

   Key To the Highway

Freddie King   1973

   Boogie Funk

Freddie King   1974

   Sweet Home Chicago

Freddie King   1975

   Woke Up This Morning


Birth of the Blues: Freddie King

Freddie King


Birth of the Blues: Jimmy Reed

Jimmy Reed


Guitarist and harmonica player Jimmy Reed released his first recording, 'You Don't Have To Go', in 1954. Unfortunately alcohol and epilepsy interfered with Reed's skills, and he died relatively young (age fifty) of respiratory failure.

Jimmy Reed   1954

   You Don't Have To Go

Jimmy Reed   1961

   Big Boss Man

Jimmy Reed   1961

   Bright Lights, Big City

Jimmy Reed   1962

   Aw Shucks, Hush Your Mouth

Jimmy Reed   1962

   Good Love



Birth of the Blues: Eric Clapton

Eric Clapton


Between the periods of BB King and Stevie Ray Vaughan (yet too late for this history, though featured in selections below) occurred the phenomenon that is Eric Clapton (also called Slow Hand). Alike Ray Vaughan, Clapton mixed the blues with rock in such extraordinary manner that rock music became nothing to sniff at evermore. Born in England, Clapton first recorded in 1963 with the Yardbirds. In 1965 the Yardbirds began to pursue a more commercial sound, prompting Clapton to leave the band and join John Mayall's Bluesbreakers, the better to examine blues guitar. (He can be found playing with the Bluesbreakers under John Mayall, below, in selections for the years 1965 - 1966.) Clapton joined the rock band, Cream, in 1966 with whom he played until helping to form the band, Blind Faith, in 1969. That same year he accompanied Delaney and Bonnie and Friends, before forming Derek and the Dominos in 1970.

Eric Clapton   1963

    With the Yardbirds   Composition: John Lee Hooker

   Boom Boom

Eric Clapton   1963

   With the Yardbirds   Composition: Chuck Berry

   Let It Rock

Eric Clapton   1963

   With the Yardbirds

    You Can't Judge a Book By Looking At the Cover

Eric Clapton   1964

    With the Yardbirds

   Good Morning Little School Girl

Eric Clapton   1964

    With the Yardbirds

   Got to Hurry

Eric Clapton   1964

   With the Yardbirds   Composition: Bo Diddley

   I'm a Man

Eric Clapton   1965

    With the Bluesbreakers

   They Call It Stormy Monday

Eric Clapton   1966

    With the Bluesbreakers

   Double Crossing Time

Eric Clapton   1966

    Live with Cream

   Steppin' Out

Eric Clapton   1969

    Live with Blind Faith

   Can't Find My Way Home

Eric Clapton   1969

    Live with Blind Faith

   Do What You Like

Eric Clapton   1969

    With Blind Faith

   Had to Cry Today

Eric Clapton   1969

    Live with Blind Faith

   In the Presence of the Lord

Eric Clapton   1969

    Live with Blind Faith

   Means to an End

Eric Clapton   1969

    With Blind Faith

   Sea of Joy

Eric Clapton   1969

    Live with Blind Faith

   Sleeping In the Ground

Eric Clapton   1969

    With Blind Faith

   Time Winds

Eric Clapton   1969

    Live with Blind Faith

    Composition: Keith Richards - Mick Jagger

   Under My Thumb

Eric Clapton   1969

    With Delaney & Bonnie & Friends

   Poor Elijah

Eric Clapton   1970

    With Derek and the Dominos

   Bell Bottom Blues

Eric Clapton   1970

    With Derek and the Dominos


Eric Clapton   1970

    With Derek and the Dominos

   Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out

Eric Clapton   1974

   Motherless Children

Eric Clapton   1980


   Double Trouble

Eric Clapton   1982


   Good Night Irene

Eric Clapton   1990

    Live with Stevie Ray Vaughan

   After Midnight

Eric Clapton   1990

    Live with Stevie Ray Vaughan

   Before You Accuse Me

Eric Clapton   1992


   Hey Hey

Eric Clapton   1992



Eric Clapton   1996


    With BB King, Bonnie Raitt, Robert Cray, Jimmy Ray Vaughan

   Six String Down

Eric Clapton   1999


   Bell Bottom Blues

Eric Clapton   1999


   Change the World

Eric Clapton   1999


   Ramblin' On My Mind

Eric Clapton   1999

    Live with BB King

   The Thrill Is Gone

Eric Clapton   2001


   Key to the Highway

Eric Clapton   2001


   She's Gone

Eric Clapton   2007

    Live with Steve Winwood

   Can't Find My Way Home

Eric Clapton   2007



Eric Clapton   2007


   My Father's Eyes

Eric Clapton   2007


   River of Tears

Eric Clapton   2007


   Wonderful Tonight

Eric Clapton   2008


   Drifting Blues

Eric Clapton   2009

    Live with the Allman Brothers Band


Eric Clapton   2010

    Live with BB King


Eric Clapton   2010


   I Shot the Sheriff

Eric Clapton   2010

    Live with Jeff Beck

   Moon River

Eric Clapton   2010


   Rock and Roll Heart

Eric Clapton   2010


   Running On Faith

Eric Clapton   2010


   Somewhere Over the Rainbow



Guitarist and harp player John Mayall recorded his first release, 'Crawling Up a Hill' ('Mr. James' flip side unfound), in 1964. Mayall released his first album, 'John Mayall Plays John Mayall', in 1965, after which guitarist Eric Clapton joined and recorded with his band the same year. (Guitarist Mick Taylor joined the Bluesbreakers in 1967, first appearing on the album 'Crusade'.) His group now called the (original) Bluesbreakers, Mayall released his next album, 'Blues Breakers', in 1966. He plays with Eric Clapton in selections below for the years 1965 - 1966.

John Mayall   1964

   Crawling Up a Hill

John Mayall   1965

    Side A

   Crocodile Walk

John Mayall   1965

    Side B

   Blues City Shakedown

John Mayall   1965

    Side A

   I'm Your Witchdoctor

John Mayall   1965

    Side B

   Telephone Blues

John Mayall   1966

    Album: Blues Breakers

   All Your Love

John Mayall   1966

   Hide Away

John Mayall   1966

   Parchman Farm

John Mayall   1967

   Drivin' Sideways

John Mayall   1967

   It Hurts Me Too

John Mayall   1967

    Composition: Albert King

   Oh, Pretty Woman

John Mayall   1968

    Live at the Fillmore

   I Can't Sleep

John Mayall   1968

   I Started Walking

John Mayall   1968

    Live performance

   Walking On Sunset

John Mayall   1969

    Album: The Turning Point


John Mayall   1969

    Album: The Turning Point Soundtrack

   So Hard To Share

John Mayall   1970

    Live performance

   The Laws Must Change

John Mayall   1971

    Live performance

   My Pretty Girl

John Mayall   1971

    Live performance

   Mess Around

John Mayall   1971

   Gasoline Blues

John Mayall   1982

    Composition: T-Bone Walker   Live with Albert King

   Stormy Monday

John Mayall   1984

    Live performance

   Room To Move

John Mayall   1993

    Live performance

   The Bear

John Mayall   2003

    Composition: Albert King   Live performance

   Oh, Pretty Woman

John Mayall   2007

    Live performance

   So Many Roads

John Mayall   2011

    Live performance

   All Your Love


Birth of the Blues: John Mayall

John Mayall



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