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A Birth of the Blues

A YouTube History of Music

Modern Blues 2

Harmonica - Piano - Voice - Other Instruments

Group & Last Name Index to Full History:


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.



Charlie Allen    IInez Andrews
Martha Bass    Big Maybelle    Bobby Bland    The Bluesbreakers    Alex Bradford    Charles Brown    Roy Brown    Paul Butterfield
Shirley Caesar    The Caravans    Ray Charles   Clifton Chenier    Mattie Moss Clark    James Cleveland    Dorothy Love Coates    James Cotton    Andraé Crouch     King Curtis
Davis Sisters    Floyd Dixon    Champion Jack Dupree
Aretha Franklin
Cecil Gant    Cassietta George    Jazz Gillum    Lloyd Glenn    Lillian Green    Bessie Griffin
Slim Harpo    Screaming Jay Hawkins    ZZ Hill    Big Walter Horton
Mahalia Jackson    Little Johnny Jones    Janis Joplin
Julia Lee   Lazy Lester    Little Sonny    Professor Longhair    Willie Love
Roberta Martin    Sallie Martin    Brother Joe May    Big Maybelle    Percy Mayfield    John Mayall     Jay McShann    Big Maceo Merriweather    Amos Milburn    Charlie Musselwhite
Dorothy Norwood
James Oden
Pacific Gas & Electric    Junior Parker    Ottilie Patterson    Little Esther Phillips    Sammy Price    Snooky Pryor
Memphis Slim    Sunnyland Slim    Moses Whispering Smith    Willie Mae Ford Smith    Otis Spann    Spencer Davis Group    Arbee Stidham
Koko Taylor    Sonny Terry    Big Mama Thornton    Big Joe Turner
Jackie Verdell    Eddie Cleanhead Vinson
Albertina Walker    Little Walter    Clara Ward    Dinah Washington    Junior Wells    Marion Williams    Sonny Boy Williamson II    Jimmy Witherspoon



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

Names are alphabetical, not chronological, per year:


1927 Julia Lee
1929 Sammy Price
1931 Mahalia Jackson

James Oden

1934 Jazz Gillum
1937 Lloyd Glenn    Lillian Green
1938 Sonny Terry
1939 Big Walter Horton    Big Joe Turner
1940 Champion Jack Dupree    Sallie Martin    Memphis Slim    Clara Ward
1941 Jay McShann    Big Maceo Merriweather
1942 Eddie Cleanhead Vinson
1944 Cecil Gant    Big Maybelle    Dinah Washington
1945 Charles Brown    Jimmy Witherspoon
1946 Amos Milburn
1947 Roy Brown    Roberta Martin    Percy Mayfield    Little Walter    Sunnyland Slim   Marion Williams
1948 Bessie Griffin    Snooky Pryor    Arbee Stidham
1949 Shirley Caesar    Ray Charles    Davis Sisters   Floyd Dixon    Brother Joe May    Little Esther Phillips    Professor Longhair 
1950 Martha Bass    Little Johnny Jones    Willie Mae Ford Smith
1951 Bobby Bland    Dorothy Love Coates    Willie Love    Sonny Boy Williamson II
1952 The Caravans    Screaming Jay Hawkins    Junior Parker    Albertina Walker    Junior Wells
1953 Alex Bradford    James Cotton    King Curtis    Otis Spann    Big Mama Thornton
1954 Clifton Chenier    James Cleveland    Cassietta George
1955 Ottilie Patterson    Jackie Verdell
1956 Aretha Franklin    Dorothy Norwood
1957 Inez Andrews   Slim Harpo    Lazy Lester
1958 Mattie Moss Clark    Little Sonny
1962 Janis Joplin
1963 ZZ Hill    Moses Whispering Smith    Koko Taylor
1964 Paul Butterfield    Spencer Davis Group    John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers
1966 Andraé Crouch
1967 Charlie Musselwhite
1968 Charlie Allen    Pacific Gas & Electric



We demarcate rather arbitrarily between early and modern blues at about World War II. For modern blues guitar see Blues 3. For blues from their inception see either Blues 1 (guitar) or Blues 2 (vocals and other instruments). This section of the blues expands just a bit on gospel music as well. These histories have no page for the gospel genre, mixed as it is in early blues and folk. Gospel in the United States had two main origins: Europe, brought to big cities like Chicago, and the rural South, such that there really is no blues without gospel and far less gospel without blues, the pair interbound like the fingers on your hands when you interclasp them, yet two quite different hands. There was a time when blues and gospel were the same thing, diverging as blues got secularized. Gospel would be an essential element in R&B as well upon the development of soul music. It thus not only fits, but behoovingly, to touch upon gospel at least tangentially, blues and gospel something alike two aspects of the same coin, their relationship something of an example of Derridean differance in contrasting likeness. Black Gospel belongs at the bottom of this page as an appendix to this section. Since we lack time to build a separate table black gospel singers dot this page as a peripheral, yet immediately (un)related, subject.



Birth of the Blues: Julia Lee

Julia Lee

Photo: Gene Lester

Dave E. Dexter Jr. Collection

Source: MEMIM


Born in 1902 in Boonville, Missouri, Julia Lee was raised in Kansas City. It was about 1920 when she began singing and playing piano in her brother's band (George Lee, whose band Charlie Parker had played with). Lee made her debut recording to issue in 1927 with pianist Jesse Stone in George Lee's Novelty Singing Orchestra for the Merritt label: 'Downhome Syncopated Blues'. She is thought to have actually first recorded in Chicago in 1923, two unissued tracks for Okeh: 'Waco Blues' and 'Just Wait Until Gone'. It was 1935 that Lee ventured upon a solo career. In 1944 she won a contract with Capitol Records, thereafter to record as Julia Lee and Her Boy Friends. Lee died of heart attack in San Diego in 1958. A major portion of Lee's career is missing at YouTube, no trace of anything earlier than 1944 there. Much more of Julia Lee in Rock & Roll 1.

Julia Lee   1946

   Julia's Blues

   Show Me Missouri Blues

Julia Lee   1947


Julia Lee   1951

   Lotus Blossom



Birth of the Blues: Sammy Price

Sammy Price

Source: Andrei Partos

Born in Honey Grove, Texas, in 1908, pianist Sammy Price began his career in the Dallas vicinity, gradually making his way to Kansas City, Chicago and Detroit. He recorded titles per Vocalion 1461 in Dallas with vocalist, Effie Scott on September 29, 1929: 'Lonesome Hut Blues' and 'Sunshine Special'. Price also put down his first title as a leader in Dallas on October 29, 1929, with His Four Quarters: 'Blue Rhythm Stomp' (Brunswick 7136). That was followed in November by a session with Bert Johnson for 'Nasty But Nice' (Brunswick 7136). November of 1930 in Dallas found Price with Douglas Finnell and His Royal Stompers for 'The Right String But the Wrong Yo-Yo' and 'Sweet Sweet Mama'. He drops out of Lord's discography at that point, not showing up again until Price's move to New York City where he would hire on as a studio musician with Decca for fifteen years to appear on about 300 titles. Lord's disco shows first tracks for Decca on February 19, 1936, for vocalist, Monette Moore: 'Rhythm for Sale' and 'Two Old Maids in a Folding Bed'. Among his early customers in the thirties was Trixie Smith on May 26, 1938, for such as 'Freight Train Blues' and 'Trixie's Blues'. Highlighting the forites was Sister Rosetta Tharpe in late '44 for 'Strange Things Happening Every Day'. A figure who would be more significant in his career arrived in the person of trumpeter, Henry Red Allen, to support vocalist, Blue Lu Barker, on August 11, 1938, on titles like 'New Orleans Blues' and 'He Caught That B & O'. Sessions would follow with Barker into 1939. Twenty years later Price would join Allen's group at the Newport Jazz Festival in 1959 for such as 'Ballin' the Jack' and 'Yellow Dog Blues'. Price would side for Allen numerously into 1962, later in 1965 at the Blue Spruce Inn in Roslyn, Long Island, in August for 'Feelin' Good'. Price formed his group, the Texas Blusicians (variously spelled Bluesicians), in 1940 for 'Jumpin' the Boogie'' and 'Swing Out in the Groove'. Price would operate that band for decades to come. Another amidst the galaxy of musicians Price supported in the forties was Mezz Mezzrow, his first such occasion on July 30, 1945 for titles like 'House Party' and 'Perdido Street Stomp'. A couple more sessions were held the next day, a few more in 1947. Highlighting the fifties were sessions in Belgium and Cannes in 1958 with trumpeter, Teddy Buckner, and soprano saxophonist, Sidney Bechet. Though a blues and jazz musician, Price would come to emphasize boogie woogie. In the seventies he played residencies at the Roosevelt Hotel and Crawdaddy Restaurant in NYC. During the eighties he played at the Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel in Boston. Price died on April 14, 1992, of heart attack in Harlem.

Sammy Price   1938

   Freight Train Blues

      Vocal: Trixie Smith

   Jack I'm Mellow

      Vocal: Trixie Smith

Sammy Price   1941

   Do You Dig My Jive

   The Goon Rag

Sammy Price   1948

   Low Down Blues

Sammy Price   1955

   Louisiana Lament

Sammy Price   1959

   One O'Clock Jump

      Filmed live

Sammy Price   1965

   2nd Time Around


   Fly Me to the Moon


Sammy Price   1975

   Please Don't Talk About Me When I'm Gone

      Filmed live

Sammy Price   1979

   That's a Plenty


Sammy Price   1995

   Blues In My Heart

   Boogie Woogie French Style


Birth of the Blues: Mahalia Jackson

Mahalia Jackson

Source: Bio
Born Mahala Jackson in 1911 in New Orleans, contralto, Mahalia Jackson, launches the history of black gospel on this page, having its origin, not as music, but as a musical genre, due largely the momentum and organizational abilities of Thomas A Dorsey. As music, southern folk blues and black gospel had had a left and right hand relationship since the early 20th century, blues branching off from (black) gospel's roots beneath cotton. Not a few early blues musicians sang gospel or styled it into blues, while gospel singers per se hung with tradition, focusing on the church, evangelism and the hymns of old time religion. Though the origins of the blues were otherwise secular (: WC Handy, Hart Wand, Mamie Smith, Ethel Waters, etc., to mention only its more metropolitan origins apart from the rural South) both genres were an easy blend. Black gospel would come to clap with R&B as well. As for Mahalia Jackson, her father was a stevedore who also cut hair and would become a minister. Her mother was a laundress who cleaned houses, but would die when Jackson was five. Some black gospel vocalists were raised in strictly gospel environments. But Jackson listened to blues records as well, Bessie Smith the singer she most admired even as she avoided secular music as a professional. She was baptized as a youth, both into the Baptist Church and the muddy brown waters of the Mississippi. Jackson left Louisiana for Chicago at age sixteen. She met Dorsey in 1929 and would tour with him later in the thirties. Jackson may have recorded 'You Better Run, Run, Run' in 1931 in Chicago for Decca, and apparently it did, there is nothing more known about it than its assigned take number. Mahalia slipped the 'i' into Mahala about that time. In 1937 Jackson recorded four tracks for Decca: 'God's Gonna Separate the Wheat from the Tares', 'My Lord', 'Keep Me Everyday' and 'God Shall Wipe All Tears Away'. She was yet working with Dorsey when in October of 1946 she recorded four tracks for Apollo: 'I Want to Rest', 'He Knows My Heart', 'I'm Going to Wait Until My Change Comes' and 'I'm Going to Tell God'. A couple sessions followed in latter 1947, the first in September to yield 'Move On Up a Little Higher', which would sell a jaw-dropping eight million copies, a very big deal with black gospel, having never been exactly what the everyday American record buyer has ever sought at the shop. To promote her recordings Jackson would have to say goodbye to Chicago and Dorsey in order to tour. By 1950 she was in full swing and owned the show in black gospel. She performed at Carnegie Hall that year, then toured Europe in '52. Columbia picked her up in the early fifties because she was a money maker. Even as she performed no secular music she yet shares distinction with James Cleveland in taking black gospel out of the church into the wider world, while pursuing gospel not only to evangelize, but to build as a musical industry in itself. Such the golden years of black gospel. 1957 saw Jackson at the Newport Jazz Festival, yet again the following year. She was heard at John F Kennedy's inaugural ball in 1961. She performed 'How I Got Over' at the March On Washington in 1963 on the day Martin Luther King Jr. gave his speech, 'I Have a Dream', to 250,000 people. The next year she sang at the New York World's Fair. Jackson sang 'Take My Hand, Precious Lord' at King's early funeral (assassinated at a Memphis motel at age 39) in 1968. She issued her last of some thirty albums in 1969: 'What the World Needs Now'. 1970 found her at the Newport Jazz Festival with Louis Armstrong. Jackson decided to retire in 1971. She was a wealthy girl, having grown from $25 to record 'God’s Gonna Separate the Wheat from the Tares' to a worth of about four million, using a bit of it to open a beauty parlor and florist shop. Along with relatively minor investments in real estate life was looking forward enough when her heart failed her, complicated by diabetes, in January of 1972. About 50,000 people attended her funeral in Chicago where, this time, 'Take My Hand, Precious Lord' was sung by Aretha Franklin. Three days later 24 limousines delivered her to her grave in New Orleans.

Mahalia Jackson   1937

   Keep Me Every Day

   Peace in the Valley

      Composition: Thomas Dorsey

Mahalia Jackson   1947

   Move On Up a Little Higher

Mahalia Jackson   1956

   Summertime/Motherless Child

Mahalia Jackson   1958

   He That Sows In Tears


Mahalia Jackson   1960

   Rock of Ages


Mahalia Jackson   1960

   Rock of Ages

     Album: 'The Power and the Glory'

     With Percy Faith

Mahalia Jackson   1961

   Live in Hamburg

     Piano: Mildred Falls   Filmed live

  The Love of God

     Live in Europe

Mahalia Jackson   1962

   Trouble of the World

Mahalia Jackson   1963

   Down By the Riverside

     Live in Europe

Mahalia Jackson   1967

   Lost In the Stars

Mahalia Jackson   1970

   Just a Closer Walk With Thee

     Newport Jazz Festival

    Filmed live with Louis Armstrong



Birth of the Blues: James Oden

St. Louis Jimmy Oden

Source: Discogs

Despite a solid recording career of four decades, and his composition of the blues standard, 'Goin' Down Slow', there is surprisingly little to be found either on the internet or at YouTube as to James Oden ("St. Lewis Jimmy"). Born in Nashville in 1903, Oden taught himself to play piano but is better known as a vocalist. He left Nashville for St. Louis at about age fourteen. There he met and worked with Roosevelt Sykes (piano) for several years, until the pair took off for Chicago in 1933. It was there that people began to call him St. Louis Jimmy, despite making Chicago home base the rest of his life. It is thought Oden first recorded in 1932. Throughout the remainder of his career he performed throughout the States and released an admirable number of recordings. Oden died of bronchopneumonia in 1977, 74 years of age.

James Oden   1932

   Patrol Wagon Blues

James Oden   1941

   Goin' Down Slow

James Oden   1942

   Can't Stand Your Evil Ways

James Oden   1948

   Florida Hurricane

      Guitar: Muddy Waters   Piano: Sunnyland Slim

James Oden   1953

   Hard Luck Boogie

James Oden   1956

   Murder In the First Degree



BBorn in Indianola, Mississippi, in 1904, with Jazz Gillum, harmonica, one can hear early blues transitioning toward modern about the period that swing jazz was at its height. Gillum ran away from home at age seven to Charleston, Mississippi, where he began busking. He left Mississippi for Chicago in 1923, where he began his professional career with Big Bill Broonzy. He made at least ten recordings from 1934 through 1937, but only two are found. Jazz guitarist George Barnes is featured playing electric guitar on the tracks below for year 1938. They are among the first recordings of electric guitar as well as among Barnes' first recordings at age sixteen. 'Key to the Highway' was first recorded by blues pianist Charlie Segar in 1940. Next came Gillum's rendering below. It was Big Bill Broonzy's version in 1941 (Blues 1) that became the standard. Gillum served in the Army from 1942 to 1945. Upon discharge he attempted to return to music. But a temporary folding of the Bluebird subsidiary of RCA in the latter forties saw Gillum's musical career largely vanish as well. (The more popular artists were transitioned to Victor but Gillum didn't make the roster.) Howsoever, Gillum attempted a comeback in 1961 with the album 'Blues by Jazz Gillum' (unfound) for Folkway Records, also featuring Memphis Slim and Arbee Stidham. The effort didn't take, such that five years later Gillum was found shot in the head in Chicago, March 29, 1966.

Jazz Gillum   1934

   Harmonica Stomp

Jazz Gillum   1935

   Crazy About You

Jazz Gillum   1938

   Reefer Head Woman/font>

      With George Barnes

   Sail On, Little Girl

      With George Barnes

   Sweet Sweet Woman

      With George Barnes

   Windy City

      With George Barnes

Jazz Gillum   1940

   Key to the Highway

Jazz Gillum   1946

   Go Back to the Country

   Look On Yonder Wall

Jazz Gillum   1947

   All In All Blues

Jazz Gillum   1948

   Take a Little Walk With Me


Birth of the Blues: Jazz Gillum

Jazz Gillum

Source:  Zen Guitar Blues

Birth of the Blues: Lloyd Glenn

Lloyd Glenn

Source: Jazz Verbatim

Born in 1909 in San Antonio, Texas, pianist Lloyd Glenn is thought have first recorded on November 18 of 1936 with the Don Albert Orchestra, contributing piano to such as 'The Sheik of Araby' and 'Liza'. He left Texas for Los Angeles in 1941, there hooking up with Walter Johnson's trio in '44, also becoming employed as a session musician. 1945 found with Red Mack and His All Stars for such as 'The Joint Is Jumpin' and 'T'ain't Me'. Working with T-Bone Walker would have been a major highlight in any musician's career, which happened in December of 1946 for Glenn, he backing Walker as one of the Al Killian Quintet in Hollywood for takes of 'Stormy Monday', 'She Had to Let Me Down', et al. Glenn would see Walker again in latter '47, '57 and 1967-68, their last occasion for Walker's 'Funky Town' in Los Angeles. Come December of 1947 for Brown's first name session with his Joymakers, coming up with such as 'Joymakers Boogie' and 'Advice to a Fool'. He took residence in the band of another major figure in 1949, that being trombonist, Kid Ory, joining him for dates such as an AFRS radio broadcast of 'Kid Ory' yielding the likes of 'Wang Wang Blues' and 'Tuxedo Junction'. Glenn would see numerous sessions with Ory's Creole Jazz Band to July 17 of 1953 for titles that would eventually see issue on Ory's 'The Kid's Greatest!' in 1962. Others with whom Glenn had occasion to work, either recording or touring, were Lowell Fulson, BB King, Clarence Gatemouth Brown and Big Joe Turner. Glenn died of heart attack on May 3, 1985, in Los Angeles. More Lloyd Glenn.

Lloyd Glenn   1947

   Blues Hangover

      The Lloyd Glenn Trio

   Call It Stormy Monday

      With T-Bone Walker

Lloyd Glenn   1950

   Old Time Shuffle

Lloyd Glenn   1951

   Chica Boo

Lloyd Glenn   1956

   Blue Ivories

   Southbound Special

Lloyd Glenn   1957

   Ballroom Shuffle

   Black Fantasy

Lloyd Glenn   1959

   Honky Tonk Train

Lloyd Glenn   1984

   How Long Blues



At the verge of modern blues (about World War II)  is vocalist Lillian Green, who was eighteen when she first recorded in 1937 (unfound). Born in Mississippi in 1919, she and Big Bill Broonzy were partners in nightclub performances in the thirties. Broonzy accompanies her on guitar in all but the bottom sample below. Green was something unique among blues musicians in that she neither drank nor smoked. But pneumonia didn't care about that, killing her in 1954 at only age thirty-four.

Lillian Green   1940

   Romance In the Dark

   What Have I Done

Lillian Green   1941

   Knockin' Myself Out

   Why Don't You Do Right

Lillian Green   1946

   It's Bad With My Man And Me


Birth of the Blues: Lil Green

Lil Green

Source: Morose Mississippi

Birth of the Blues: Sonny Terry

Sonny Terry

Source: Last FM

Born in Greensboro, Georgia, in 1911, much like his early partner, Blind Boy Fuller, harmonica player Sonny Terry was forced to perform music due to losing his eyesight as a teenager. When Fuller died in 1941 Terry formed a lifetime relationship with guitarist Brownie McGhee. In 1938 Terry was invited to play at Carnegie Hall for the first time. That same year he made a number of recordings for the Library of Congress. Terry died of natural causes in 1986 in the state of New York.

Sonny Terry   1938

   Lost John

   The New John Henry

Sonny Terry   1940

   Precious Lord

      Guitar: Blind Boy Fuller

Sonny Terry   1959

   Crow Jane Blues

Sonny Terry   1960

   My Baby Done Gone

      Guitar: Stick McGhee

Sonny Terry   1962

   Blues Ain't Nothing But a Woman

      Bass: Willie Dixon   Drums: Jump Jackson

      Guitars: Brownie McGhee & T-Bone Walker

      Piano: Memphis Slim   Vocalist: Helen Humes

Sonny Terry   1967

   Burnt Child

      Guitar: Brownie McGhee

   Stranger Blues

      Guitar: Brownie McGhee



Birth of the Blues: Big Walter Horton

Big Walter Horton

Source: Hohner Marine Band Harmonica


Born in Horn Lake, Mississippi, in 1918, Big Walter Horton (Shakey), an harmonica player from Memphis, first pursued Mississippi Delta blues, then became involved with Chicago blues. He may have first recorded with the Memphis Jug Band in the latter twenties but there exists no record of such. We thus account his first to have occurred in 1939, backing guitarist Little Buddy Doyle for the Okeh and Vocalion labels (one found below). Due to poor health Walter 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 (Blues 3). His first album appeared in 1964: 'The Soul of Blues Harmonica'. Albeit Walter was largely an accompanist, he was one of no little prestige in the blues business. For the illustrious career that he enjoyed there is surprisingly little of him to be found at YouTube. Walter died relatively young, age 60, of heart failure in Chicago in 1981.

Big Walter Horton   1939

   Hard Scufflin' Blues

      With Little Buddy Doyle

Big Walter Horton   1951

   Hard Hearted Woman

      With Calvin & Phineas Newborn

Big Walter Horton   1953

   Evening Sun

      With Johnny Shines

Big Walter Horton   1973

   St. Louis Blues

      Live performance

   Walter's Slow Blues

      Live performance

Big Walter Horton   1980

   That Aint It/Down Yonder

       Live with Ronnie Earl



Born Joseph Vernon Turner Jr. in Kansa City, Missourri, in 1911, vocalist Big Joe Turner (Boss of the Blues), first recorded on December 23 of 1938 at Carnegie Hall with pianist, Pete Johnson, putting out 'It's All Right Baby' and 'Low Down Dog'. December 30 saw 'Going Away Blues' and 'Roll Em Pete' to be issued by Vocalion (4607). Turner had quit school at age fourteen to busk and sing in Kansas City nightclubs, becoming known as the Singing Barman (singing bartender). During that period he also partnered with boogie woogie pianist, Pete Johnson. Turner made his first appearances on the West Coast in 1941 in Los Angeles. His first session there is thought to have been on September 1 contributing vocals with Duke Ellington on piano to 'Rocks in My Bed' for the 'Salute to Labor' broadcast by KFI Radio.  Perhaps best known for his rock tune, 'Shake, Rattle and Roll' ('54), Turner released his debut album in 1956: 'The Boss of the Blues'. Turner began performing internationally in 1965, recording in France and Yugoslavia with trumpeter, Buck Clayton, that year, Mexico City (with Bill Haley) and Berlin the next. He would also record with Count Basie in Europe, 'Flip, Flop & Fly' made in Paris and Frankfurt in April of 1972. His final albums were 'Kansas City Here I Come' recorded on February 14, 1984, and 'Patcha, Patcha, All Night Long', made on April 11 of 1985 with Jimmy Witherspoon. Turner was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 1983, died of heart failure in California on November 24, 1985, then was included in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987.

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

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Birth of the Blues: Champion Jack Dupree

Champion Jack Dupree

Photo: Karlheinz Klüter

Source: Herb Museum

Not known just when or where pianist Champion Jack Dupree was born, he was orphaned at age two and so named because he had been a Golden Gloves boxer. It was at the New Orleans Home for Colored Waifs that he taught himself piano. (Louis Armstrong had been a young resident there as well.) As a young adult Dupree supported his blues career as a cook and would favor that art the rest of his life. He first recorded in Chicago on May 9, 1940, backing vocalist, Lillian Green on 'Cherry Tree Blues', 'Just Rockin'', et al. Dupree would support Green to 1942 when World War II found his career interrupted by service in the Navy, during which he was a Japanese prisoner of war for a couple years. 1958 found him recording 'Blues from the Gutter'. Dupree moved to Europe for the remainder of his life in 1960, where he hopped from nation to nation, eventually to settle in Germany. He at first only sang 'Careless Love' (written by William Handy in 1926) for Papa Bue's 1962 rendition, but a later piano solo in 1991 (below) reveals his beautiful command of the keyboard. Highlighting the eighties were titles with clarinetist, Monty Sunshine, contributing to the latter's 'Freedom' in '80, '25 Jahre Old Merrytale Jazz Band' in '81 and 'Live' in '84. He began a partnership with pianist, Axel Zwingenberger, per the Mojo Blues Band in the latter eighties, he contributing vocals to 'Champs Housewarming' in 1988. Zwingenberger and Dupree recorded on several occasions in '88 and '90.    Dupree died in Hanover, Germany, on January 21, 1992, at least 82 years of age.

Champion Jack Dupree   1940

   Angola Blues

   Black Woman Swing

   Cabbage Greens

   Junker's Blues

Champion Jack Dupree   1954

   Shim Sham Shimmy

Champion Jack Dupree   1962

   Careless Love

      Vocal for Papa Bue

Champion Jack Dupree   1963

   Weed Head Woman

Champion Jack Dupree   1971

   Everything's Gonna Be All Right

      Live performance   Saxophone: King Curtis

   Junker's Blues

      Live performance   Saxophone: King Curtis

   Poor Boy Blues

      Live performance   Saxophone: King Curtis

Champion Jack Dupree   1991

   Careless Love

      Piano solo


Birth of the Blues: Champion Jack Dupree 

Sallie Martin

Source: NCGCC
Born in Georgia in 1895, gospel vocalist, Sallie Martin, was the contemporary of Thomas A Dorsey, generally recognized as "father" of Black gospel. Martin would likewise become popularly known as the "mother" of Black gospel. Raised a Baptist but becoming Pentecostal as a young woman, she began her career in 1927 in Chicago singing in Holiness churches. Some period afterward she was hired by Dorsey as a singer in his trio and manager. She assisted Dorsey in the founding of the National Convention of Gospel Choirs and Choruses in 1933. He had organized an earlier union for choral singers the year before. Leaving Dorsey in 1940, she founded Martin and Morris Music, a publishing house, with Kenneth Morris that year. She also formed the Martin and Morris Singers that year, 'On the Jericho Road' that group's first release. Also recorded in 1940 were 'Must Be Jesus Love Divine' and 'I'm Walking with My Jesus', released much later in 1945. No tracks by the Martin and Morris Singers are represented at YouTube. But a CD released in 2014, 'Just A Little Talk With Jesus', contains 25 issues by Cora and Sallie Martin released between 1940 and 1952. Martin is said to have formed Martin and Martin in 1940 with Roberta Martin. The two didn't go far together though, Sallie putting together the Sallie Martin Singers that year and Roberta moving onward to form the Roberta Martin Singers. The Sallie Martin Singers are thought to have first entered the studio in 1947. That April they recorded 'Even Me, Even Me' and 'Just a Few Days to Labor' for release in 1948. Also recorded on that date were 'Four and Twenty Elders', and 'Jesus Steps Right In', released in February 1950. 'You Know, Lord' and 'He's a Friend of Mine' were possibly issued in 1950 as well. Cora Martin, Brother Joe May and Dinah Washington (as Ruth Jones) each spent some time with the Sallie Martin Singers. Martin performed with them regularly until the mid fifties, backing off after that due the rigors of touring. The Singers continued without her for decades to come but for occasional appearances. Martin died in June of 1988. She was elected into the Gospel Hall of Fame in 1991.

Sallie Martin   1950?

    There Must Be a Heaven Somewhere

      Sallie Martin Singers

Sallie Martin   1951

    Working on a Building

       Sallie Martin Singers

Sallie Martin   1973

    I'll Tell It Wherever I Go

      Piano: Thomas Dorsey

Sallie Martin   1979

    God Put a Rainbow in the Cloud

      Sallie Martin Singers



Born in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1915, Memphis Slim (John Chatman) first recorded on August 6, 1940, upon moving to Chicago in 1939. Among those titles were 'The Jive Blues' and 'Blues at Midnight'. Among Slim's many esteemed compatriots was bassist/vocalist, Willie Dixon, who joined Slim in Chicago in time to record titles like 'Kilroy's Been Here' and 'Rockin' the House' in 1946. They would reunite in 1959-60 and 1962-63, their final sessions together are thought to been in Germany in October of 1963 to bear such as 'Jamboree Boogie', 'Wish Me Well' and 'In the Evening'. The original title of Slim's 'Every Day I Have the Blues' was 'Nobody Loves Me' recorded in 1948. Though Slim is usually credited with composing the song, there is an earlier release of it in 1935 by Henry Townsend and the Spark Brothers in Blues 3. Skipping numerous sessions in the decade to come, Slim recorded the live album, 'At the Gate of Horn', in Chicago on August 18, 1959. His first tour to Europe in 1960 resulted in 'Travelling With The Blues', recorded in Copenhagen, Denmark, on August 25 and 26. He next showed up in Europe in London to put down 'Alone with My Friends' on April 17, 1961. Europe quickly became a favorite venue for Slim. In '62 and '63 he would tour there with Dixon per the American Folk Festival concerts that Dixon organized to take the blues to Europe. Upon that tour Slim decided to leave the United States for Paris, France, permanently. One of the most highly regarded pianists in American music, Slim died of renal failure on February 24, 1988, in Paris. His recently recorded album, 'The Paris Sessions', was released posthumously in July of 1989. The much later CD issued in 2009, 'Fip, Fil and Fim', included titles from that.

Memphis Slim   1940

   Beer Drinking Woman

   Grinder Man Blues

   Every Day I Have the Blues

   Mother Earth

   Slim's Blues

   The Comeback

Memphis Slim   1946

   Don't Ration My Love

Memphis Slim   1954

   She's Alright

Memphis Slim   1958

   Gotta Find My Baby


Birth of the Blues: Memphis Slim

Memphis Slim

Source: Blues Everyday

  Born in 1924 or '27 in Philadelphia, PA, Clara Ward first sang gospel professionally as a member of the Ward Trio with her mother, Gertrude, and older sister, Willarene. (Her mother had formed a group called the Ward Singers in 1931.) Multiple sources have Ward recording solo as a teenager in 1940 but we've found no documentation of such. Ward formed the Ward Singers in 1943. Sources have that gospel group recording as early as 1947, but no documentation earlier than 'Surely, God Is Able' in 1949 is found, the year that group toured from Philadelphia to Los Angeles in a brand new Cadillac. A recording thought to be from 1948 may be found under Marion Williams. The Ward Singers brought gospel to Carnegie Hall in Philadelphia in 1950. In addition to running the Ward Singers, Ward founded a booking agency as well as publishing house for gospel music. She also formed the gospel group, the Clara Ward Specials. Ward found gospel and R&B a lively equation, moving gospel from the church to the nightclub (including the Playboy Mansion), also trading the austere robes of gospel for jewelry, sequined gowns and wigs. Notable in the sixties was her performance with the Ward Singers at the Newport Jazz Festival in 1962, thought to be the first gospel to find representation at that venue. Also of note was her release of 'The Heart, The Faith, The Soul of Clara Ward' circa 1966, recorded with a symphony of 100 instruments, the Clara Ward Singers and the Golden Voices Ensemble. In 1968 and '69 she toured South Vietnam with the USO. (USO tours were sponsored by the State Department, but performers weren't paid.) Though the hotel in which the Ward Singers stayed in 1968 was bombed, killing several guests, Ward later stated that her favorite concerts were those given in Vietnam. The Ward Singers further toured internationally until Ward's death in Philadelphia in 1973. She was interred in Glendale, California. Per below, the Ward Singers appear on all edits with the exception of one solo by Ward (organist unknown, though Ward played both that and piano).

Clara Ward   1949

   Each Day


   Prayer Changes Things


Clara Ward   1952

   The Old Landmark

   There Is a Fountain Filled with Blood

Clara Ward   1962


     Filmed live at the Newport Jazz Festival

Clara Ward   1963



Clara Ward   1965?

   God Bless The Child

     Verve release date may be 1966

Clara Ward   1966?

   Beyond the Sunset

     Album: 'The Heart, The Faith, The Soul of Clara Ward'

    With the Golden Voices Ensemble

   A City Called Heaven

     Album: 'The Heart, The Faith, The Soul of Clara Ward'

    With the Golden Voices Ensemble

Clara Ward   1968

   Dry Bones

     Filmed live at the Playboy Mansion


     Television performance

Clara Ward   1969


     Filmed live at the Playboy Mansion

Clara Ward   1973

   Lean On Me


Clara Ward

Source: Black Kudos

Born in 1916 in Muscogee, Oklahoma, bandleader and pianist Jay McShann left Oklahoma for the Kansas City music scene in 1936, forming his own orchestra that same year. He was with his band in Wichita, Kansas, when he was recorded live at the Trocadero Ballroom on August 9, 1940: 'Jumpin' at the Woodside' and 'Walkin' and Swingin'. Those aren't thought to have been issued until several decades later. More broadcasts followed in November and December from KFBI Radio to be issued by Onyx, 'I've Found a New Baby' and 'Body and Soul' from November. McShann won a contract with Decca in 1941, his first recordings for that label in Dallas, Texas, on April 30, 1941: 'Swingmatism', 'Hootie Blues' 'Dexter Blues', 'Vine Street Boogie', 'Confessin' the Blues' and 'Hold 'Em Hootie'. McShann and/or his orchestra were giant magnets in support of other musicians. Significantly so was vocalist, Jimmy Witherspoon, with whom he began to work after World War II, having been drafted in 1944. McShann backed Witherspoon in 1945-48, later in '57 and '59. His first titles with Witherspoon had been in July of '45 with his Jazz Men: 'Confessiin the Blues' and 'Hard Working Man Blues'. His last in circa January of 1959 were such as 'Goin' Down Slow' and 'I'll Get By'. In 1955 McShann backed Kansas City rocker, Priscilla Bowman, on titles like 'Hands Off' and 'Hootie Blues'. Highlighting the sixties came saxophonist/vocalist, Eddie Cleanhead Vinson, for numerous recordings in Paris in 1969, later at the 1973 Newport Jazz Festival (at Lincoln Center in NYC) and, finally, the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland in 1974 to bear Vinson's 'Jamming the Blues'. Highlighting the seventies were dual pianos with Ralph Sutton in December of 1979, those to be found on Vol 1 & 2 of 'The Last of the Whorehouse Players'. McShann and Sutton would put two pianos to use again in 1989 for a third issue of 'The Last of the Whorehouse Players'. Dual pianos would come into play again with Axel Zwingenberger at the Jazzland in Vienna, Austria, in March of 1990 for titles that would see issue on 'Swing the Boogie' and 'Blue Pianos'. McShann followed those with June sessions which titles would appear on 'Stride Piano Summit' in 1991. McShann also appeared on 'Eastwood After Hours' released in 1997, an album by various artists in honor of actor, Clint Eastwood, recorded at Carnegie Hall in 1996. McShann is thought to have made his last recordings in Toronto, Ontario, in February 2001 for an album that would be issued as 'Hootie Blues' in 2006 a couple months before his death in June that year, his career spanning more than six decades. More Jay McShann in Big Band Swing.

Jay McShann   1941

   Confessin' the Blues

   Hootie Blues

Jay McShann   1942

   Lonely Boy Blues

      Vocal: Walter Thomas

Jay McShann   1946

   Strange Woman Blues

Jay McShann   1983

   Once Upon a Time

Jay McShann   1990

   I'm Just a Lucky So and So

      Bass: Milt Hinton   Tenor sax: Plas Johnson

Jay McShann   1996

   Tain't Nobody's Bizness If I Do

Jay McShann   2006

   I'll Catch The Sun

      Recorded 2001


Birth of the Blues: Jay McShann

Jay McShann

Source: Kickmag

Birth of the Blues: Big Maceo Merriweather

Big Maceo Merriweather

Source: Big Road Blues



Born Major Merriweather in 1905 in Atlanta, Big Maceo Merriweather's first record release was in 1941: 'Can't You Read' b/w 'So Long Baby'. His next the same year was 'Ramblin' Mind Blues' b/w 'County Jail Blues', followed by 'Texas Blues' b/w 'Worried Life Blues'. It was Tampa Red who helped Merriweather acquire his first recording contract in Chicago, and Red is the guitarist in all tracks below. Merriweather died of heart attack in Chicago in 1953.

Big Maceo Merriweather   1941

   Can't You Read

   County Jail Blues

   Poor Kelly Blues

   So Long Baby

   Worried Life Blues

Big Maceo Merriweather   1945

   Kid Man Blues

   Winter Time Blues

Big Maceo Merriweather   1946

   Chicago Breakdown



Birth of the Blues: Eddie Cleanhead Vinson

Eddie Cleanhead Vinson

Source: Erwin Boermans

Born in Houston, Texas, in  1917, 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. Vinson joined the Milton Larkin Orchestra in the latter thirties, toured with Big Bill Broonzy shortly thereafter, then joined the Cootie Williams Orchestra, with which he first recorded 'When I Left My Baby' on April 1, 1942. Vinson stuck with Williams into 1945 when he formed his own orchestra to record his debut titles as a leader circa December for 'Mr. Cleanhead Steps Out', 'It's a Groovy Affair', 'I've Been So Good' and 'Juice Head Baby' among others for Mercury. Those four titles would get issued in 1985 on the LP, 'Mr. Cleanhead Steps Out' (including 'Kidney Stew Blues', below). Vinson died of heart attack on July 2, 1988, in Los Angeles.

Eddie Vinson   1944

   Somebody's Got to Go

      With the Cootie Williams Orchestra

   Juice Head Baby

      With the Cootie Williams Orchestra

Eddie Vinson   1945

   When My Baby Left Me

      With the Cootie Williams Orchestra

Eddie Vinson   1947

   Kidney Stew Blues

   Wait a Minute Baby

Eddie Vinson   1961

   Bright Lights Big City

      With Cannonball Adderley

Eddie Vinson   1967

   Alimony Blues

   Cherry Red

   Somebody's Got to Go

Eddie Vinson   1987

   Cleanhead Blues/Old Maid Boogie

      Live 1986


  Born in 1913, it was as Pvt. Cecil Gant that pianist Cecil Gant first billed himself upon cutting his first song in 1944 ('I Wonder'). Gant was also a great boogie woogie pianist, which can be found in A Birth of Rock n Roll 1. Gant died of pneumonia in 1951, age only 37, too young to witness the rise of rock n roll to which he contributed with his talent at piano.

Cecil Gant   1944

   I Wonder

Cecil Gant   1946

   I'll Remember You

Cecil Gant   1948

   I'm a Good Man But a Poor Man

Cecil Gant   1950

   Another Day, Another Dollar

   I Ain't Gonna Cry No More


Birth of Rock & Roll: Cecil Gant

Cecil Gant

Source: The Music's Over

Birth of Rock & Roll: Big Maybelle

Big Maybelle

Source: Rubber City Review

Born Mabel Louise Smith in 1924 in Jackson, Tennessee, rhythm and blues vocalist Big Maybelle first recorded as a vocalist on April 6, 1944, with the Christine Chapman Orchestra for Decca Records: 'Bottin' the Boogie' and 'Hurry, Hurry'. Switching from gospel to rhythm and blues as a teenager, Maybelle began her music career in 1936 with the Dave Clark Memphis Band, then toured with the Sweethearts of Rhythm. She then joined Christine Chapman's orchestra per above as a study on piano and vocals. She then hooked up with the Tiny Bradshaw Orchestra in Cincinatti in winter of '47 for such as 'Indian Giver' and 'Foolin' Blues' (King). Maybelle's first recordings with King Records didn't do well. But her first recording for Okeh Records on October 8 of 1952, 'Gabbin Blues', rose to No. 3 on the charts, launching a highly successful career. She was given the name, Big Maybelle, by producer, Fred Mendelsohn, of Okeh Records. Sadly, Maybelle died young (not quite fifty years old) of diabetic coma, in 1972 in Cleveland. Her last recordings were released the next year on an album titled, 'Last of Big Maybelle'. More Big Maybelle in Rock 1.

Big Maybelle   1947

   Bad Dream Blues

   Sad and Disappointed

Big Maybelle   1952

   Gabbin' Blues

Big Maybelle   1954

   Maybelle's Blues

Big Maybelle   1967

   Maybelle Sings the Blues

Big Maybelle   1973

   The Masquerade Is Over

      Album: 'Last of Big Maybelle'



Inheriting Mamie Smith's title of Queen of the Blues, jazz singer Dinah Washington released her first recording, 'Evil Gal Blues', in 1944 with Lionel Hampton. 'Choo Choo Baby' and 'Arkansas' were recorded on an uncertain date about the same time (December 29, 1943). Her first recording of 1944 was for an AFRS (Armed Forces Radio Service) broadcast of 'One Night Stand' (#152): 'A Slip of the Lip'. Born Ruth Lee Jones in 1924 in Alabama, Washington was very much the gospel singer as a child raised mostly in Chicago. She began singing in clubs at age fifteen. Her career was made when Hampton visited one of her shows at the Garrick, her first performance with him at the Chicago Regal Theatre. Washington kept with Hampton until venturing upon a solo career in 1946. Among the most beloved jazz vocalists of the 20th century, Washington died of an accidental drug overdose (diet pills) on December 14, 1963, only 39 years of age. Lord's discography lists her final sessions on October 15 that year, the last three tracks of which were 'Lingering', 'Lord You Made Us Human' and 'They Said You'd Come Back Running'. More Dinah Washington in Modern Jazz Song.

Dinah Washington   1943

   Evil Gal Blues

      With Lionel Hampton

Dinah Washington   1944

   Salty Papa Blues

      With Lionel Hampton

Dinah Washington   1948

   Long John Blues

Dinah Washington   1953

   No Hard Feelings

Dinah Washington   1955

   Birth Of The Blues

Dinah Washington   1958

   Back Water Blues

Dinah Washington   1963

   How Long, How Long Blues

   Nobody Knows the Way I Feel This Morning


Birth of the Blues: Dinah Washington

Dinah Washington

Source: ladybret



Born in 1922, pianist Charles Brown was classically trained and already had a degree in chemistry when he left Texas for Los Angeles in 1943 where he played the local blues clubs which led to his first recordings with Johnny Moore & the Three Blazers in late 1944: 'Nightfall and 'Maureen'. Brown recorded with the Blazers until 1948 when he decided to go solo with Aladdin Records to record such as 'Get Yourself Another Fool' 'Ooh! Ooh! Sugar'. Other titles for Aladdin included such as 'Again' and 'One Never Knows Does One' on January 17, 1950. Brown would join the Blazers again in 1952 for such as 'In the Day' and 'Strange Love'. Taking quite a leap ahead to the the sixties, Brown began that decade with tenor saxophonist, Clifford Scott, in the winter of 1960 for such as 'Shy-33' and 'Hang Out'. He recorded the album, 'Boss of the Blues', circa 1964. Highlighting the seventies was opportunity to participate in titles to T-Bone Walker's 'Very Rare' in 1973. Among the more highly underrated blues musicians, Lord's disco has latest recordings by Brown per vocals with Maria Muldaur in 1998 to be found on 'Meet Me Where They Play the Blues'. Brown died of heart failure on January 21, 1999, in Oakland, California. Several of the recordings below are pretty worn and there are few more at YouTube. All tracks below through 'Don't Get Salty, Sugar' are Brown with the Blazers. 'My Last Affair' is among his first recordings in 1948 upon beginning to record in his own name.

Charles Brown   1945

   Blazer's Boogie

   Driftin' Blues

Charles Brown   1946


   You Are My First Love

Charles Brown   1947


Charles Brown   1948

   Don't Get Salty, Sugar

   My Last Affair

Charles Brown   1950

   My Baby's Gone

Charles Brown   1951

   Black Night

   Rockin' Blues

Charles Brown   1962

   Good Time Charlie


Birth of the Blues: Charles Brown

Charles Brown

Source: James'z Rockin' Blues


Birth of the Blues: Jimmy Witherspoon

Jimmy Witherspoon

Photo: Concord Music Group

Source: Black Kudos

Born in Gurdon, Arkansas, in 1920, vocalist Jimmy Witherspoon, largely jump blues, first recorded in 1945 with jazz pianist and bandleader Jay McShann and His Jazz Men, appearing on 'Confessin' the Blues' and 'Hard Working Man Blues'. McShann and Witherspoon would see a lot of each other one way or another to 1948, to reunite in the latter fifties a couple of times. Witherspoon was one of blues' shouters (able to sing with an orchestra unamplified). Among the many orchestras with which he worked was Buck Clayton's per his first tour to Europe in 1961, that resulting in 'Olympia Concert'. Upon a career of well above 150 sessions Witherspoon is thought to put down his last per a concert in Vancouver, B.C., circa 1996, that came to 'Jimmy Witherspoon with the Duke Robillard Band'. Witherspoon died of throat cancer in 1997 in Los Angeles. Witherspoon will also be found in A Birth of Rock and Roll 2.

Jimmy Witherspoon   1945

   Shipyard Woman Blues

      With Jay McShann

Jimmy Witherspoon   1947

   Backwater Blues

Jimmy Witherspoon   1949

   Ain't Nobody's Business

Jimmy Witherspoon   1953

   Back Door Blues

Jimmy Witherspoon   1956

   Still In Love

Jimmy Witherspoon   1959

   No Rollin' Blues

Jimmy Witherspoon   1961

   Nobody Knows You When You're Down And Out

Jimmy Witherspoon   1964

   S.K. Blues



Born in Houston in 1927, pianist Amos Milburn was playing piano by age five. He enlisted in the Navy during World War II at age fifteen and earned thirteen battle stars in the Philippines before returning to Houston to form his first band. It was 1946 when Milburn released his first recordings. Milburn died in January 1980. More Amos Milburn in A Birth of Rock n Roll 1.

Amos Milburn   1946

   Amos Blues

Amos Milburn   1947

   Blues at Sundown

   Empty Arms Blues

   Hard Driving Blues

   Operation Blues

Amos Milburn   1948


Amos Milburn   1949

   In the Middle of the Night

   It Took a Long, Long Time

Amos Milburn   1950

   Bad, Bad, Whiskey

      Television performance

   Hard Luck Blues

   Two Years of Torture

Amos Milburn   1952

   Thinkin' and Drinkin'/Trouble In Mind

Amos Milburn   1953

   Let Me Go Home, Whiskey

   One Scotch, One Bourbon, One Beer

Amos Milburn   1963

   My Baby Gave Me Another Chance


Birth of the Blues: Amos Milburn

Amos Milburn

Source: MP3 XL

Birth of the Blues: Roy Brown

Roy Brown

Photo: Jerry Haussler

Source: Blues Tour Database

Born in 1925 in New Orleans, rhythm and blues singer Roy Brown cut his first record in 1947, a jump blues number called 'Good Rockin' Tonight' in 1947 (see Roy Brown in Fifties American Rock). It's said he won his contract to record the song by singing it over the phone to De Luxe Records president, Jules Braun. Though Brown was a key figure in the development of rock and roll as an R&B vocalist his career began to wane in the fifties, he never achieving the stardom to which others attained in that genre. Brown died of heart attack in 1981 in California, only 55 years of age.

Roy Brown   1949

   The Blues Got Me Again

Roy Brown   1950

   Hard Luck Blues

   Judgment Day Blues

Roy Brown   1951

   Bar Room Blues

   Wrong Woman Blues


Birth of the Blues: Roberta Martin

Roberta Martin

Source: Re Gospel Coro

Blues and gospel had been something of identical twin siblings during the early part of the 20th century. By Roberta Martin's time the two had become so demarcated into distinctly individual genres that Martin was a galaxy apart from the blues. Martin was born in 1907 in Helena, Arkansas, moving to Chicago with her family at age ten. She studied piano, Arizona Dranes to later become an influence. She was playing at a Baptist church when she met Thomas A Dorsey who assisted her in the formation of the Martin-Frye Quartet with Theodore Frye. That ensemble was renamed the Roberta Martin Singers in 1936. Martin launched the Roberta Martin Studio of Music, a publishing house, in 1939, adding the more cement that made Chicago the metropolitan home of Black Gospel. Her own first composition to publish was 'Try Jesus, He Satisfies' in 1943. Martin released her first vinyl in 1947 with Norsalus McKissick for Fidelity Records: 'Precious Memories'. Having released several albums, Martin's last was 'Praise God' in 1968. She died the next year in January, having battled cancer, after which the Roberta Martin Singers separated, though there would be reunions into the new millennium. Martin performs with the Roberta Martin Singers on all tracks below.

Roberta Martin   1947

   Precious Memories

      Featuring Norsalus McKissick

Roberta Martin   1950

   Old Ship of Zion

      Featuring Norsalus McKissick

   What a Friend We Have In Jesus

Roberta Martin   1958


  Ride On King Jesus

Roberta Martin   1968

   I Have Hope

      Album: 'Praise God'



Birth of the Blues: Percy Mayfield

Percy Mayfield

Source: All Music

Percy Mayfield was another class act composer and pianist with similar rivals like Charles Brown, Nat King Cole and Ray Charles. Born in 1920 in Louisiana, Mayfield performed in Texas before going to California in 1942. His first recording occurred in 1947. He'd composed a song titled 'Two Years of Torture' specifically for Jimmy Witherspoon and took it to Supreme Records. His reading of the lyrics gave those at Supreme the notion that Mayfield himself ought record the song rather than Witherspoon, and he suddenly found himself singing with a band. Mayfield is responsible for a number of well-known songs, including 'Hit the Road Jack', recorded by Ray Charles in 1961. For the great talent that Mayfield was he never managed to rise to the stardom that Charles enjoyed, and died of heart attack in obscurity on August 11, 1984. More of Mayfield in Rock 1.

Percy Mayfield   1947

   Two Years of Torture

Percy Mayfield   1950

   Please Send Me Someone to Love

Percy Mayfield   1951

   Life Is Suicide

Percy Mayfield   1964

   My Jug and I



Birth of the Blues: Little Walter

Little Walter

Source: Bon Corretore

Born Marion Walter Jacobs in 1930 in Louisiana, harmonica player (also guitar), Little Walter, was the first to amplify harmonica, holding the instrument to the microphone. Walter quit school at age twelve to busk the streets of New Orleans. He headed for Chicago at age fifteen where he met Bernard Abrams who operated Ora-Nelle Records in the rear room of a record shop. His first recording, 'Ora-nelle Blues', was released in 1947. He would soon find himself performing and recording blues with such as Muddy Waters, Jimmy Reed, Willie Dixon and Junior Wells. He was in considerable demand as a session mouth harp player for Chess Records as well. Walter toured Europe twice, first in 1964, then in 1967 with the American Blues Festival (cuts from which below). Walter was simply royalty on a harmonica. But alcohol began to make him unreliable in the fifties. He also had a tendency for fisticuffs. Which is how he died in 1968, after a violent encounter while taking a break during a performance at a club in Chicago. More of Little Walter at A Birth of Rock and Roll 2.

Little Walter   1947

   Ora-Nelle Blues

Little Walter   1952

   Blue Midnight

Little Walter   1954

   Last Night

Little Walter   1955

   My Babe

   Boom, Boom Out Go the Lights

Little Walter   1957

   Key to the Highway

Little Walter   1967

   Little Walter's Jump

      American Folk Festival

     Guitar: Hound Dog Taylor

   Wild About You Baby

      American Folk Festival

      Guitar: Hound Dog Taylor



Birth of the Blues: Sunnyland Slim

Sunnyland Slim

Source: Mapleshade Records

Born Albert Luandrew in 1907 in Mississippi, pianist and vocalist Sunnyland Slim is said to have first recorded in 1946 with Jump Jackson (likely released in 1947. He put together his own band the same year, which first recording was 'Illinois Central' with 'Sweet Lucy Blues' B side, released the next year in 1947 (Tracks below are in alphabetical order by year). Luandrew was identified on his first releases only as "Doc Clayton's Buddy", but assumed the name "Sunnyland Slim" the same year due to frequent performances of a tune called 'Sunnyland Train'. Slim died in Chicago, his domicile since 1939, in 1995. More Sunnyland Slim in Rock n Roll 1.

Sunnyland Slim   1947

   Broke and Hungry

   Illinois Central

Sunnyland Slim   1951

   Down Home Child

   Mary Lee

   When I Was Young

Sunnyland Slim   1953

   The Devil Is A Busy Man

   Worried About My Baby

Sunnyland Slim   1960

   The Devil Is A Busy Man

Sunnyland Slim   1964

   Brownskin Woman

      Guitar: Mike Bloomfield

   Come Home Baby

      Guitar: Hubert Sumlin

   It's You Baby

      Guitar: Mike Bloomfield

   Sunnyland's Jump

      Guitar: Mike Bloomfield

Sunnyland Slim   1966

   Bye, Bye Bye Baby, Goodbye

      With Muddy Waters

   Tin Pan Alley

Sunnyland Slim   1969

   I Am the Blues


Birth of the Blues: Marion Williams

Marion Williams

Source: Record Connexion
Born in 1927 in Miami, gospel vocalist Marion Williams was raised a Pentecostal (Church of God), though exposed to the blues, jazz and calypso of the south Florida region and was encouraged to pursue opera. Poverty saw her dropping out of school at fourteen to work at a laundry with her mother. She joined the Ward Singers in 1947. Multiple sources place her first recordings that year. Below is a sample from among the Ward Singers' first issues: 'How Far Am I From Canaan?', given an unconfirmed date of 1948. On 'Surely, God Is Able' she is thought to follow Clara Ward on lead. Albeit Ward was lead vocalist with the Ward Singers, Williams was the gal who stole the show until she left the Singers in 1958. Mother (Gertrude) and daughter (Clara) Ward were very good about featuring the talents of their singers, all top rate. But they had a reputation for shaving coin, pay so poor that members of the group had to pay their own hotel accommodations. Since Williams was a main draw and couldn't get a raise she formed the Stars of Faith with Kitty Parham, another Ward Singers luminary with the same problem. In 1965 Williams embarked on a solo career, touring the States, Africa and West Indies. Williams was sixty when she graduated from Pacific Union College in 1987. In 1993 she was honored by both the MacArthur Foundation and Kennedy Center. Williams died on July 2, 1994, in Philadelphia. She had issued 'In This House, On This Morning' with the Wynton Marsalis Septet that year, recorded in 1993. Per 1962 below, all edits were filmed live in Utrecht, Netherlands.

Marion Williams   1948

   How Far Am I From Canaan?

      Clara Ward Singers

Marion Williams   1949

   Surely, God Is Able

      Clara Ward Singers

Marion Williams   1958

   Packing Up

      Clara Ward Singers

Marion Williams   1962

   It Is Well With My Soul

   Mean Old World

   Somebody Bigger Than You and I

   Take Me to the Water

Marion Williams   1964

   I'm Going to Live the Life

      Brown/Jackson album: 'Much In Common'

     Bass: Ray Brown

      Vibes: Milt Jackson

      Drums: Albert Heath

     Organ: Wild Bill Davis

Marion Williams   1965

   Joy to the World/How I Got Over

      Television performance

   Praise the Lord I Have a New Life

      Television performance

   Traveling Shoes/Packing Up

      Television performance

Marion Williams   1969

   I Live for Jesus

      Filmed live in Europe with the Stars of Faith

   When the Saints Go Marching In

      Filmed live in Europe with the Stars of Faith


  Born Arlette B. Broil in 1922 in New Orleans, Bessie Griffin began her recording career as a contralto vocalist with the Sittin' In With label in 1948, releasing 'He Walks With Me' and 'My Trouble Is Hard'. Those with whom she performed those recordings are less than forthcoming so it's assumed they were name releases. She also sang with the Gospel Consolators in the latter forties. Though she is said to have released multiple 78s with that group no documentation is found but for one, 'Every Now and Then', in 1948 for the King label. She also recorded 'Someday, Somewhere' in 1948 for King. It's assumed that was a name release until documentation is found otherwise. Moving to Chicago in 1951, she joined Albertina Walker's Caravans, recording with them in December of 1953 for the States label. Among the songs on which Griffin sang lead for the Caravans was 'Since I Met Jesus', released in 1955. After leaving the Caravans Griffin briefly signed up with the Parrot label before heading to Los Angeles and Specialty Records in 1956. The Liberty label released Griffin's debut album in 1960, 'Portraits in Bronze', performed with the Gospel Pearls. Like other gospel artists, Griffin emphasized evangelism over profit. Though she did release several more albums during her career through the eighties, what juiced Griffin was performing in person for live audiences rather than recording. During the year of her death in 1989 Spirit Feel Records issued the anthology, 'Even Me: Four Decades Of Recordings By Bessie Griffin'. Griffin was buried at Forest Lawn in Glendale, California.

Bessie Griffin   1948

   Every Now and Then

      With the Gospel Consolators

   Someday Somewhere


Bessie Griffin   1953

   Ain't That Good News

      With the Caravans

    Jesus Is a Rock In a Weary Land

      With the Caravans

  Let Us Run

      With the Caravans

Bessie Griffin   1955

   More Like Jesus

Bessie Griffin   1962

   Deep River

      Filmed live with the Gospel Pearls

    When the Saints Go Marching In

      With the Gospel Pearls

     Television performance

Bessie Griffin   1963

   The Story of Job

      Album: 'Bessie Griffin and The Gospel Pearls'

    Two Little Fishes

      Album: 'Bessie Griffin and The Gospel Pearls'

Bessie Griffin   1964

   How Great Thou Art

Bessie Griffin   1981

   Just A Closer Walk With Thee

      Filmed live at Montreux Jazz Festival

    Two Wings



Birth of the Blues: Bessie Griffin

Bessie Griffin

Source: Cross Rhythms

Born in 1921 in Lambert, Mississippi, harmonica player Snooky Pryor, a Chicago blues musician, first released 'Telephone Blues', in 1948 with Moody Jones, under Moody Jones in Blues 3. Pryor first landed in Chicago in 1940, served in the Army stateside, then went straight back. Pryor was an important figure when harmonica was beginning to become a favored blues instrument due to amplification. Howsoever, he never obtained to commercial success commensurate with his talent and died in 2006 in Missouri.

Snooky Pryor   1952

   Boogie Twist

Snooky Pryor   1956

   Judgment Day

   Someone To Love Me

Snooky Pryor   1994

   In This Mess Up To My Chest

Snooky Pryor   2005

   Boogie Twist


Birth of the Blues: Snooky Pryor

Snooky Pryor

Source: Wikiwand


  Born Arbee Stidham in 1917 in Arkansas, first recorded for RCA in 1947. Originally a harmonica, clarinet and saxophone player, an auto accident in the fiftees made it necessary for him to switch to guitar, taught to him by Big Bill Broonzy. Stidham died in 1978 in Cook County, Illinois.

Arbee Stidham   1948

   My Heart Belongs to You

Arbee Stidham   1952

   Mr Commissioner

Arbee Stidham   1956

   Meet Me Half Way

   When I Find My Baby

Arbee Stidham   1957

   I Stayed Away Too Long

      With Lefty Bates & Earl Hooker

Arbee Stidham   1960

   My Heart Belongs to You

   Pawn Shop

   Teenage Kiss

   You Can't Live In This World By Yourself

Arbee Stidham   1973



   Tired of Wondering


Birth of the Blues: Arbee Stidham

Arbee Stidham

Photo: Ray Flerlage

Source: VK/Primordial Blues

Birth of the Blues: Shirley Caesar

Shirley Caesar

Source: Ticket Master
The Shirley Caesar was born in 1938 in Durham, North Carolina. A Black Gospel singer, it is agreed throughout the cosmos that she recorded in 1949 at age eleven. But nothing else seems known about that so we can't say she didn't surface on vinyl that year. She did, however, record 'I’d Rather Have Jesus' b/w 'I Know Jesus Will Save' in November of 1951. Billed as Baby Shirley on the 78 for Federal Records, she was described on the label as twelve years old, though she was thirteen. It's not impossible that was recorded early enough for release the same year, though it could well have been '52. Be as may, Caesar joined the Caravans in 1958. The Caravans was the super group of Black Gospel through which nigh everyone in the genre had passed at one time or another. Getting hired by Albertina Walker, who ran the Caravans, something meant you were going to be a star or you wouldn't be in her ensemble in the first place. Thus it's with the Caravans that Caesar came to national acclaim before she left the group in '66 to pursue a solo career. Among the songs on which Caesar sang lead with the Caravans are 'I Feel Good', 'Soul Salvation, Lord', 'Do Something for Me', 'Roll On', 'Choose Ye This Day', 'Hallelujah It's Done', 'I Won't Be Back', 'Jesus, I'll Never Forget',
'He First Loved Me' and 'I Find No Fault in God'. The next year she released the LP, 'I'll Go'. She also participated in 'Jordan River' that year, an album by the Reverend Douglas Fulton Gospel Singers Ensemble with Gwen Carter singing lead. In 1968 Caesar issued the albums, 'A Message to the Nation' and 'My Testimony'. She has since recorded prolifically into the new millennium. Caesar graduated in 1984 from Shaw University in Raleigh, North Carolina, with a business degree. She has since received a couple honorary doctorates, one from Shaw, another from Southeastern University in Florida. She currently pastors the Mount Calvary Word of Faith Church in Raleigh, with a congregation of about 1,500. Per 1968 below, all tracks are from Caesar's album, 'My Testimony'. All tracks per 1980 are from the LP, 'Rejoice'.

Baby Shirley   1951

   I'd Rather Serve Jesus

    I Know Jesus Will Save

Shirley Caesar   1962

   I Won't Be Back

      With the Caravans

Shirley Caesar   1968

   God Is Not Dead

    He Touched Me

    Long Way to Go to Be Like the Lord

   My Testimony

Shirley Caesar   1980

   Gotta Serve Somebody

    He's Got It All In Control

    I Love You, Mama

   Satan, You're a Liar

Shirley Caesar   1984

   Sunday's On The Way

      Album: 'Sailin''

Shirley Caesar   1989

   I Remember Mama

Shirley Caesar   1997

   Don't Drive Your Momma Away!

      Filmed live

Shirley Caesar   2013

   God Will Make a Way

Shirley Caesar   1997

   God Will Make a Way

      Television broadcast: Stellar Awards



Birth of the Blues: Ray Charles

Ray Charles

Source: No Put Thy Footing

Ray Charles Robinson in 1930 in Albany, Georgia, it was 1949 that R&B pianist Ray Charles released his first songs, recording as a member of the Maxim Trio consisting of GD McKee (guitar) and Milton Garred (bass): 'I love You, I Love You' and 'Confession Blues' per Swingtime #171. Charles began losing his sight of glaucoma at age five and was completely blind by age seven. His father died when he was age 10, his mother when he was fifteen. He learned classical and played at school assemblies as a child. Upon his mother's death in 1946, friends of his mother took Charles with them to Jacksonville, Florida, where he began to play professionally at the Ritz Theater for four dollars a night. It was in Tampa that he made his first three unissued recordings in 1947: 'Guitar Blues', 'Walkin' and Talkin'' and 'I'm Wonderin' and Wonderin''. About that time Charles asked a friend what city was furthest away, which is why he went to Seattle the same year, there to form a friendship with boxer, Sugar Ray Robinson, who was a couple years younger. He then took the coastline south to Los Angeles where 'Confession Blues' was recorded, that to rise to the No. 3 spot on the charts. Charles was in like Flint from that point onward. By the time he switched from Atlantic Records to ABC ten years later in 1959 he was worth a $50,000 advance. Of the 149 sessions which Lord's disco ascribes to Charles, the high majority of them were his own projects. Among his more important musical associates was saxophonist, Hank Crawford, who first backed Charles in July of 1958 at the Newport Jazz Festival for titles like 'Hot Rod' and 'The Blue Waltz'. Crawford would support Charles to 1964, Charles also arranging a few titles for Crawford during that time. 1965 saw them backing Percy Mayfield on such as 'Life Is Suicide'. They would reunite in Montreax, Switzerland, in 1978 for a concert with Dizzy Gillespie. Among others with whom Charles worked on projects were Billy Eckstine ('56) and trumpeter/producer, Quincy Jones ('59, '60, '65, '88, '89). Charles' use of heroin, begun as a teenager in Florida, seems to have had relatively little destructive consequence beyond his third arrest in 1965, after which he sought rehabilitation more to stay out of jail than due to need. (Heroin is a sleepy time substance which people averse to living somnolently may find a nice sleeping aid, but less than pleasantly addictive as a functional mode. Unlike cocaine, a "go" drug which is often a sign of having prospered, heroin is more oft a sign of things altogether hopelessly broken down for the leaving.) In 1979 the state of Georgia made Charles' version of 'Georgia On My Mind' its state song. In 1985 he performed at Reagan's second inauguration, then at Clinton's first in 1993. (President Clinton was himself a saxophone player.) Among Charles' favorite pursuits beyond music was chess. He played Grand Master, Larry Evans, in 2002, and lost. Lord's disco has Charles' last recordings in 2003 with Poncho Sanchez for the latter's 'Out of Sight!'. His final performance was in 2004 at the dedication of his music studio in Los Angeles, built in 1964, as an historic landmark. Charles died the same year of liver disease. See Rock & Roll 1 for more of the master Ray Charles.

Ray Charles   1949

   Confession Blues

  Going Down Slow

   How Long Blues

   You'll Always Miss the Water


  The Davis Sisters were raised to attend the Fire-Baptized Holiness Church in Philadelphia. It was 1945 when Ruth Davis (aka Baby Sis) founded the Famous Davis Sisters of Philadelphia, joined by her sisters, Alfreda, Audrey, Edna and Thelma. Ruth was 17 at the time. They signed up with Apex Records in 1947, releasing their first recordings in 1949: 'I'm Going To Tell God/The Hole Will Be Done' and 'Get Away Jordan/Jesus Is Near'. Pianist, Curtis Dublin, had joined the Sisters in time to contribute to those. The Sisters also recorded titles on the Gotham label in 1949, one of them 'In The Morning When I Rise'. Imogene Greene was recruited in 1950. In 1963 the Sisters lost Dublin, also their organist, to an auto accident. Continuing without replacement, Greene left the Sisters in '55 for the Caravans, she replaced by Jackie Verdell. The Sisters would consist of several other vocalists over the years, they releasing their last LP in the eighties. None of the original Sisters survive to this date. Thelma died at a young age in January of 1956, developing pneumonia shortly after delivering the last of her three children. She was fifteen upon becoming one of the Sisters. Ruth died in 1970. Alfreda, the youngest sister who began singing with the group at age ten, died in 1990. Audrey and Edna are also deceased. Per below, Ruth sings lead on all edits unless otherwise indicated.

Davis Sisters   1949

   In the Morning When I Rise

Davis Sisters   1950

   Get Right With God

Davis Sisters   1959

   Jesus Gave Me Water

      2nd lead: Jackie Verdell

Davis Sisters   1964

   By and By

      'TV Gospel Time'

      Host: Brother Joe May

     2nd lead: Jackie Verdell

   Old Landmark

      Introduction: Jackie Verdell

      Lead: Alfreda

   We Need the Power Lord

      'TV Gospel Time'

      Host: Brother Joe May

     Lead: Jackie Verdell


Birth of the Blues: Davis Sisters

Davis Sisters with Curtis Dublin

Source: Music Me

Born Jay Riggins, Jr. in 1929 in Marshall, Texas (home of boogie woogie), pianist Floyd Dixon first recorded 'Dallas Blues' in 1947 for Supreme Records. No documentation is found as to release, we thus assuming no public issue was made. In 1949, however, Dixon recorded 'Dallas Blues' by accident, not knowing an audition at Modern Records was being recorded. Modern liked what he'd already done, payed him for his time, then bought his membership in the musician's union. In 1950 Dixon replaced Charles Brown as pianist for Johnny Moore and the Three Blazers. Though Dixon largely retired to Paris, Texas, in the seventies he continued to tour until his death of kidney failure in 2006. Visit A Birth of Rock n Roll 4 to hear Dixon rock.

Floyd Dixon   1949

   Broken Hearted

      With Eddie Williams

Floyd Dixon   1950

   Sad Journey Blues

Floyd Dixon   1951

   Telephone Blues (Long Distance)

Floyd Dixon   1952

   Call Operator 210


Birth of the Blues: Floyd Dixon

Floyd Dixon

Source: Past Blues

  Born in 1912 in Macon, Mississippi, Brother Joe May was a gospel singer raised Pentecostal in the Church of God. He traveled the gospel circuit in the South until moving to St. Louis to work in a chemical plant in 1941. His first performance was at Thomas A Dorsey's annual National Convention of Gospel Choirs & Choruses, probably earlier than 1949. A performance in that venue that year landed him a recording contract with Specialty Records. May issued 'Search Me Lord'/'How Much More Of Life's Burden Can We Bear' in December of 1949. Sales are estimated at around one million for 'Search Me Lord'. The next year he issued 'Do You Know Him'/'The Day Is Past and Gone' to similar success. He then quit his day job and began touring with other gospel groups. Yet later he would perform duets with Willie Mae Ford Smith at her church in St. Louis. May released his debut album, 'Walk On and Talk On', in 1962. He would make recordings with his daughter, Annette, and tour Europe with the musical, 'Black Nativity'. But it was in the South that May was most at home, performing in that region until his death of stroke in Thomasville, Georgia, in 1972, only age 59. Having released several studio albums during the years he was recording, May was inducted into the International Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 2000.

Brother Joe May   1949

   Search Me Lord

Brother Joe May   1950

   The Day Is Past and Gone

Brother Joe May   1959

   My Mother Prayed For Me

Brother Joe May   1962

   Walk On Talk On

  Walk With Me Lord

Brother Joe May   1969

   Amazing Grace

     Album: 'Don't Let the Devil Ride'

  Don't Let the Devil Ride

     Album: 'Don't Let the Devil Ride'


Birth of the Blues: Brother Joe May

Brother Joe May

Source: Last FM


Born in 1935 in Galveston, Texas, Little Esther Phillips was discovered by Johnny Otis, with whom she made her first recordings in 1949. (Johnny Otis is the pianist on tracks below.) Phillips was a bluesy R&B vocalist whose repertoire included jazz, country and soul music. She died at the relatively young age of 49 in 1984 upon kidney and liver failures due to drug use. Phillips 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 1.)

Esther Phillips   1949


      With the Johnny Otis Orchestra

Esther Phillips   1950

   Double Crossing Blues

      With the Johnny Otis Orchestra

   Deceivin' Blues

      With the Johnny Otis Orchestra

   Lost Dream Blues

      With the Johnny Otis Orchestra

   Mistrustin' Blues

      With the Johnny Otis Orchestra

   Wedding Dream Blues

      With the Johnny Otis Orchestra

Esther Phillips   1952



Esther Phillips   1953

   Cherry Wine

   Hound Dog

Esther Phillips   1965

   And I Love Him

      Live performance

Esther Phillips   1966

   Release Me

   A Taste Of Honey

   When a Woman Loves a Man

Esther Phillips   1971

   A Beautiful Friendship

      Album: 'From a Whisper To a Scream'

   One Night Affair

Esther Phillips   1972

   Home Is Where the Hatred Is

Esther Phillips   1975

   What a Difference a Day Makes

      Television performance

Esther Phillips   1976

   A Beautiful Friendship

      Album: 'Capricorn Princess'

   I Haven't Got Anything Better To Do

Esther Phillips   1983

   A Way to Say Goodbye

   We Are Through


Birth of the Blues: Little Esther Phillips

Little Esther Phillips

Source: Lipstick Alley

Birth of the Blues: Professor Longhair

Professor Longhair

Born Henry Roeland Byrd in 1918 in Louisiana, pianist Professor Longhair began his career in music at age 30 in New Orleans in 1948. He first recorded the next year with a band called the Shuffling Hungarians. In 1950 he released 'Bald Head' b/w 'Hey Bartender' as Roy Byrd and His Blues Jumpers. Longhair died in New Orleans in 1980. More Professor Longhair will be found under Earl King in A Birth of the Blues 3.

Professor Longhair   1949

   She Ain't Got No Hair

      With the Shuffling Hungarians

Professor Longhair   1950

   Bald Head/Hey Bartender

      As Roy Byrd and His Blues Jumpers

   Mardi Gras in New Orleans

Professor Longhair   1957

   No Buts No Maybes

Professor Longhair   1964

   Big Chief

      Composition: Earl King   With Earl King

   There Is Something On Your Mind

Professor Longhair   1974

   Hey Now Baby

      Album: 'Rock N Roll Gumbo'

   Mardi Gras in New Orleans

      Album: 'Rock N Roll Gumbo'

Professor Longhair   1978

   Tell Me Pretty Baby

      Album: 'Live On the Queen Mary'


Birth of the Blues: Martha Bass

Martha Bass

Source: Discogs
Born in 1921, where unknown, gospel vocalist, Martha Bass was mother to Fontella Bass and David Peaston. (She was married to James Peaston.) She first turned up in St. Louis as a youth, finding tutelage with Willie Mae Ford Smith Smith. She joined the Ward Singers for about a year, making her debut, and only, recording with that group in 1950: 'Wasn't It a Pity How They Punished My Lord'. Bass issued her first album, 'I'm So Grateful', in 1966. In 1968 she issued her own version of 'Rescue Me', the song her daughter, Fontella, struck oil with in 1965. Her later career would include collaborations with both Fontella and Peaston. She died in September of 1998. Per 1966 below, all tracks are from Bass' debut album, 'I'm So Grateful'. Per 1969 all tracks are from her LP, 'Martha Sings Mahalia'.

Martha Bass   1950

   Wasn't It a Pity

      With the Ward Singers

Martha Bass   1966

   I'm Getting Nearer My Home

  I'm So Grateful

  Mother's Plea

  Sweeter As the Days Go By

  What Manner Of Man Is This

Martha Bass   1968

   Rescue Me

      Album: 'Rescue Me'

     Original version 1965 Fontella Bass

   Since I've Been Born Again

      Album: 'Rescue Me'

Martha Bass   1969

    Bowed On My Knees

   How I Got Over

   Move Up a Little Bit Higher

   Three Steps


  Born in Jackson, Mississippi, in 1924, pianist Little Johnny Jones where he first played professionally with Tampa Red in 1945, replacing Big Maceo Merriweather after the latter had suffered a stroke leaving his right hand paralyzed. His first recordings occurred in 1949, cutting five tracks with Muddy Waters: 'Big Town Playboy' b/w 'Shelby County Blues', Screamin' And Cryin'' b/w 'Where's My Woman Been' and 'Last Time I Fool Around With You'. In 1953 he released 'Dirty By the Dozen' b/w 'I May Be Wrong'. Jones died young of bronchopneumonia in 1964 in Chicago, only forty years old.

Little Johnny Jones   1950

   Big Town Playboy

      With Muddy Waters

   Shelby County Blues

      With Muddy Waters

   Where's My Woman Been

      With Muddy Waters

Little Johnny Jones   1953

   Dirty By the Dozen

   I May Be Wrong

Little Johnny Jones   1954

   Chicago Blues

   Hoy Hoy

   She's Alright

   Wait Baby

Little Johnny Jones   1963

   Early In the Morning

Little Johnny Jones   1973

   More Dub

Little Johnny Jones   1979

   Worried Life Blues


Birth of the Blues: Little Johnny Jones

Little Johnny Jones

Source: Blues All Kinds

Birth of the Blues: Willie May Ford Smith

Willie May Ford Smith

Source: Ol Skool Saint
Born in Rolling Fork, Mississippi, in 1904, gospel vocalist, Willie Mae Ford Smith, was the contemporary of gospel singer, Eugene Smith, both important progenitors of gospel music to arise in the fifties. Smith was raised a Baptist in St. Louis, Missouri, from age twelve. She began singing with her four sisters in a group called the Ford Sisters. It was 1922 at the Baptist National Convention that she began making a name for herself. In 1927 she married one James Peter Smith and began touring with musical revivals. Smith's heydays were in the forties upon switching from Baptist to Pentecostal, Baptists finding her music too aligned with secular blues. Her first issues didn't arrive until 1950. Among those were 'Call Him', 'Jesus Is the Name', 'Goin' On With the Spirit' and 'Pilot Take My Hand'. 'Give Me Wings' and 'What Manner of Man Is This' were issued circa 1950. About five years later she was ordained in the Lively Stone Apostolic Church in St. Louis, where she was satisfied to perform into the early nineties. Shortly after the death of Brother Joe May in July of '72 she took her music out of the church to the Newport Jazz Festival. She also recorded 'Going On With the Spirit' that year, thought to have been released in '74 (possibly). That was a rare event as Smith recorded very little. For all her stature in the field it's yet difficult to determine just when Smith recorded what, so we hazard no discography beyond that. There exists at least one later compilation of her early recordings. Howsoever, Smith's greater emphasis was evangelical. They were her students who took her influence into the recording studio. Among them were Roberta Martin, Martha Bass and Brother Joe May. Smith was recipient of a National Heritage Award from the National Endowment for the Arts in 1988. She died in St. Louis in February of 1974.

Willie Mae Ford Smith   1950

   Jesus Is the Name

   Give Me Wings

      Date is approximate

   What Manner Of Man Is This

      Date is approximate



Born Robert Calvin Brooks in Tennessee in 1930, soul singer Bobby Bland released his first single ('Booted' with 'I Love You Til the Day I Die' flip side) in 1951. He produced several more singles in 1952, one among them below. Abandoned by his father shortly after birth, Bland never went to school and was illiterate his entire life. Following his mother to Memphis in 1947, he started hanging on famous Beale Street where he met such as BB King and Junior Wells. Not knowing how to read would get him ripped by Duke Records in 1954, which which contract stipulated half a cent per record sold rather than the industry standard of two cents. Nice business, music, huh. How long that nonsense went on isn't known, but Bland released several top charters while at Duke. Nevertheless, it is said to be largely financial pressures which caused Bland to stop touring in 1968. When ABC bought Duke Records in 1973 Bland made a comeback. Now paid a bit more fairly, the sale of his successful albums made Bland a happier man. Bland died in 2013 in Tennessee. More Bobby Bland in A Birth of Rock & Roll 2.

Bobby Bland   1952


   Dry Up Baby

   Good Lovin'/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

Source: Last FM

Birth of the Blues: Dorothy Love Coates

Dorothy Love Coates

Source: Last FM
Born in 1928 in Birmingham, Alabama, vocalist, Dorothy Love Coates, finds this page by virtue of black gospel, a genre as decidedly not the blues as it was intimately tied with them from their inception, especially in the rural South via early blues musicians such as Lead Belly crossing over from black gospel. Secular blues and gospel were rivals due having much in common, which relationship would continue thusly with the R&B that gradually evolved into soul music. Little Richard would mix black gospel with rock. Coates had been born Dorothy McGruff, her father a minister who had divorced her mother and left when she was six. Four years later she began playing piano at her Baptist church. (Baptists were something more conservative with gospel than Pentecostals.) She quit school in 10th grade to become a maid of financial necessity. There was a family group of brothers and sisters called the McGriff Singers before Coates joined the Gospel Harmonettes when they were the Gospel Harmoneers at some time in the forties. (The ensemble had been about since the thirties.) The Harmonettes issued their first tracks, 'In the Upper Room' and 'Move on Up a little Higher', in 1949, though Coates didn't participate. Coates is thought to have first appeared on wax in 1951 with the Harmonettes on the Specialty tracks, 'Get Away Jordan' and 'I'm Sealed'. The Harmonettes eventually disbanded for good in the latter sixties (1970?), Coates forming the Dorothy Love Coates Singers. Coates distinguished herself from other black gospel singers less by multiple performances at the Newport Jazz Festival than by involvement in civil rights. (Black gospel singers ranged from those who kept things in church to those who took the Book where it was thought the most needed, including hedonist venues such as the Playboy Mansion.) Coates, however, didn't indulge in secular music, keeping apart from such as soul. Come 1980 Coates ceased recording, though she continued performing and appeared in a couple of films in the nineties. She died of heart failure in Birmingham in April 2002. Per below, Coates appears with the Gospel Harmonettes on all tracks until 1973, that and and thereafter with her Singers. Per 1956 below, all tracks with the exception of '99 1/2' (released that year) are recordings thought to be unreleased until 1992 on the album, 'Get On Board'.

The Gospel Harmonettes   1949

   The Upper Room

      Harmonettes prior to Coates

Dorothy Love Coates   1951

   Get Away Jordan

   I'm Sealed

Dorothy Love Coates   1955

   Get Away Jordan


Dorothy Love Coates   1956

   99 1/2

   He's Calling Me

   I'm Sealed

   I Wouldn't Mind Dying

   Thank You Lord for Using Me

   That's Enough

   These Are They

Dorothy Love Coates   1964

   You've Been Good to Me

Dorothy Love Coates   1973

   Prayer Changes Things

      Album: 'A New Day Dawns'

Dorothy Love Coates   1974

   I've Got a Feeling

      Album: 'When It's All Over'

   Let God Abide

      Album: 'When It's All Over'

Dorothy Love Coates   1977

   Strange Man


Birth of the Blues: Willie Love

Willie Love

Source: Discogs
Born in 1906 in Duncan, Mississippi, pianist, Willie Love, met Sonny Boy Williamson II in 1942, the pair then to travel the juke joints of the Mississippi Delta region. Nine years later Love would appear on vinyl with Williamson, recording 'Eyesight to the Blind' and 'Crazy About You Baby' in January of 1951 with Trumpet Records in Jackson, Mississippi. The two entered the studio again in March to record 'Cat Hop'. The next month Love recorded 'Take It Easy Baby' and 'Little Car Blues' with his Three Aces. He followed that in July with 'Everybody's Fishing' and 'My Own Boogie'. He joined Williamson on some eight tracks the next August. In October the two recorded 'Gettin' Out Of Town'. The first of December he recorded eight more tracks with his Three Aces. Three days later he and Williamson were in the studio again to record six tracks ('Cat Hop' and 'Gettin' Out Of Town' getting their other sides, respectively, 'Too Close Together' and 'She Brought Life Back to the Dead'). Love recorded nothing in 1952, but resumed again in March of '53 with seven tracks, followed April by fourteen. Love died of bronchopneumonia the following August. All tracks below are Love with his Three Aces unless otherwise noted. Per 1952 below, Little Milton Campbell plays guitar on all tracks.

Willie Love   1951

   Everybody's Fishing/My Own Boogie

   Eyesight to the Blind/Crazy About You Baby

      With Sonny Boy Williamson II

   Take It Easy Baby/Little Car Blues

Willie Love   1952

   21 Minutes to Nine

  Falling Rain

  Feed My Body to the Fishes

  Nelson Street Blues

  Seventy Four Blues

  V8 Ford

  Vanity Dresser Boogie



Born Alex Miller in 1912 in Mississippi, mouth harp player 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. Williamson began his career as an itinerate bluesman, traveling Arkansas and Mississippi, picking up the name, Rice Miller, due to his taste for rice with milk. He was also called Little Boy Blue. In 1941 Williamson and Robert Lockwood were the first to appear on King Biscuit Time, the longest running daily radio program, broadcast by KFFA out of Helena, Arkansas. (The longest running radio show, period, is the Grand Ole Opry, which began broadcasting as the Barn Dance in 1925, before getting changed to the Grand Ole Opry in 1927.) It was then that he began to be called Sonny Boy Williamson II, to capitalize on the fame of Sonny Boy Williamson I, who was still alive and with whom there was no familial relation. From that time until the death of Williamson I in 1948 there were, for several years, two Sonny Boy Williamsons playing blues harmonica.) From 1948 to 1950 Williamson ran his own radio show on KWEM out of West Memphis, Arkansas. Williamson toured Europe several times before his untimely death in 1965, of heart attack in his sleep. Williamson as elected into the Blues Hall of Fame in 1980.

Sonny Boy Williamson II   1951

   Eyesight To the Blind

Sonny Boy Williamson II   1953

   Clownin' With the World

   Shuckin' Mama

Sonny Boy Williamson II   1954

   Goin’ In Your Direction

Sonny Boy Williamson II   1963

   Help Me/Bring It On Home


Birth of the Blues: Sonny Boy Williamson II

Sonny Boy Williamson II

Source: Jigsaw

  Born in Cleveland in 1929, vocalist Screamin' Jay Hawkins dropped out of high school in 1944 to join the war against the Axis in Europe. In 1949 he became the middleweight boxing champion in Alaska. Having studied classical piano as a child, he joined Tiny Grimes' ensemble in 1951 as a vocalist. His first recording with Grimes is said to be in 1952: 'Why Did You Waste My Time' (unfound). It was upon recording 'I Put a Spell On You' in 1956 that Hawkins began mixing theatrical comedy with the blues, inspired by radio disc jockey, Alan Freed, who paid him $300 to rise from a coffin on stage. Hawkins would thereafter become more notable as a performer than a blues vocalist. Hawkins died in 2000 in France, survived by between 55 to 75 children, that is, countless.

Screamin' Jay Hawkins   1954

   Baptize Me In Wine

      Guitar: Tiny Grimes

Screamin' Jay Hawkins   1956

   I Put a Spell On You

Screamin' Jay Hawkins   1957


Screamin' Jay Hawkins   1958

   Alligator Wine

   Deep Purple

   You Made Me Love You

Screamin' Jay Hawkins   1964


Screamin' Jay Hawkins   1970

   Constipation Blues

Screamin' Jay Hawkins   1973

   Monkberry Moon Delight

Screamin' Jay Hawkins   1991

   Heart Attack and Vine

      Original composition: Tom Waits

Screamin' Jay Hawkins   1994

   Constipation Blues

      Live performance

Screamin' Jay Hawkins   1995

   I Am the Cool

   Whistling Past The Graveyard

      Original composition: Tom Waits


Birth of the Blues: Screamin' Jay Hawkins

Screamin' Jay Hawkins

Source: Canibuk

Birth of the Blues: Little Junior Parker

Little Junior Parker

Source: Discogs

Born Herman Parker Jr. in 1932 in Clarksdale, Mississippi, vocalist Junior Parker began playing mouth harp professionally as a teenager. The first big name he accompanied was Sonny Boy Williamson II, shortly before joining Howlin' Wolf's band in 1949. He formed his own band, the Blue Flames, in 1951, releasing his first record for Modern Records in 1952: 'You're My Angel'/'Bad Women, Bad Whiskey'. In 1953 Parker toured with Bobby Bland and Johnny Ace. Parker's success began to wane upon leaving Duke Records in 1966. Though he continued recording in pace he wasn't given long to revive his earlier success, dying during an operation for a brain tumor in 1971. Parker was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 2001.

Junior Parker   1952

   Bad Women, Bad Whiskey

Junior Parker   1953

   Feel So Bad/Sittin' At The Bar

   Mystery Train

Junior Parker   1954

   Sittin' Drinkin' and Thinkin'

Junior Parker   1957

   My Dolly Be

   Next Time You See Me

   That's Alright

Junior Parker   1958

   Sweet Home Chicago

Junior Parker   1959

   Dangerous Woman

Junior Parker   1961

   Annie Get Your Yo-Yo

   Driving Wheel

Junior Parker   1964

   Jivin' Woman

   Strange Things Happening

Junior Parker   1965

   These Kind of Blues

Junior Parker   1970

   Lady Madonna

Junior Parker   1971

   Don't Throw Your Love On Me So Strong

   I Need Love So Bad

   Love Ain't Nothin' But a Business Goin' On

   River's Invitation



Born the youngest of nine children in 1929 in Chicago, Albertina Walker (aka Queen of Gospel), took the reins of the Caravans in 1952. That group had been formed in 1947 by Robert Anderson, originally the Gospel Caravan. Recordings are thought to have been made in 1949. The group became the Caravans in '51, Anderson and Walker parting ways in '52. Albeit gospel, originating in Europe, and the blues, developing out of northern urban jazz (Chicago particularly) are of quite different origins, in the rural South the two had been a mix for decades. Gospel and the blues had there been identical in origin, blues the secularization of early black music originally developed the prior century on Southern plantations. Nigh all early blues musicians sang gospel, from Lead Belly to Reverend Robert Wilkins and Reverend Gary Davis to Moody Jones but a few early examples. White folk got their gospel from such as the Carter Family. Black folk had black gospel, largely developed as a genre by Thomas A Dorsey with Sallie Martin, contemporaries of the Carter Family. Among Walker's contemporaries in Black Gospel was Martha Bass, only eight years older. Bessie Griffin joined her in the Caravans for a period in the early fifties. Walker's Southern-derived gospel (though born in Chicago, her parents from Georgia) was enormously popular in a genre that was a sliver in comparison to the huge markets for country western, jazz and rock n roll. Walker performed for both presidents, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, in the seventies. She was the recipient of multiple awards, among them two Grammy Awards for two albums ('Songs of The Church' in 1994 and 'Paved the Way' in 2006) and a National Heritage Fellowship in 2002. Aka the "Queen of Gospel," Walker died in 2010 with five gold albums in her piggy bank. As usual, we list not only genre-specific examples, but the broader spectrum of an artist's music throughout their career.

Albertina Walker   1952

   He'll Be Right There

   I Know The Lord Will Make A Way

   What Do You Need

Albertina Walker   1955

   What Kind of Man Is This

      With James Cleveland

   The Angels Keep Watching Over Me

Albertina Walker   1962

   The Blood

   It's Good to Know Jesus

   The Lord Has Kept Me

Albertina Walker   1979

   Please Be Patient With Me

Albertina Walker   1981

   I Can Go to God In Prayer


Birth of the Blues: Albertina Walker

Albertina Walker

Source: Liberty Ink

Birth of the Blues: Junior Wells

Junior Wells

Photo: Steve Tackeff

Source: Rolling Blues

Born in 1934, mouth harp player Junior Wells began his recording career in 1952 with Muddy Waters, replacing Little Walter the same year as pianist Otis Spann joined Waters' band. (One example, without Spann, below). Wells first recorded as a bandleader in 1965 with guitarist Buddy Guy. He died in 1998 in Chicago. The bottom three tracks below are live performances.

Junior Wells   1952

   Gone to Main Street

      With Muddy Waters

Junior Wells   1960

   Messin' With the Kid

   You Don't Care

Junior Wells   1961

   It Hurts Me Too

Junior Wells   1966

   Vietcong Blues

      With Buddy Guy

   The Hoodoo Man

   Look On Yonder's Wall

      With the Aces

Junior Wells   1974

   Got My Mojo Working

      Live with Muddy Waters

Junior Wells   1987

   Trouble No More


Birth of the Blues: Alex Bradford

Alex Bradford

Source: Last FM

Alex Bradford brushed with blues just a bit, something acknowledging blues as gospel's sibling, but not enough to be identified with the blues but as a Black Gospel singer thereat removed from the blues. Born in 1927 in Bessemer, Alabama, Alex Bradford began performing at age four and joined his first gospel group at 13. He had his own radio show as a teenager before attending the Snow Hill Normal and Industrial Institute where he began teaching as a student. He was thus also known as Professor Alex Bradford. In 1947 he headed to Chicago where he worked for brief periods with Roberta Martin and Mahalia Jackson before forming the Bradford Singers, followed by the Bradford Specials. His earliest known release was in 1953 as Professor Alex Bradford for Specialty Records, 'I Don't Care What the World May Do'. 'Too Close to Heaven' followed in 1954. That arrived to gospel's party with a million popping corks, going gold. Bradford experienced great success through the fifties, his popularity waning in the sixties as he moved into theatre, touring Europe with 'Black Nativity' in 1962, also appearing in 'Don't Bother Me, I Can't Cope' in 1971. He was in production with another musical in 1978, 'Your Arms Are Too Short to Box with God', when he died of stroke in Newark, New Jersey that February. Bradford released over ten studio albums during his career of over two decades as a recording artist.

Alex Bradford   1953

   I Don't Care What the World May Do

Alex Bradford   1954

   Too Close to Heaven

Alex Bradford   1955

   Holy Ghost


Alex Bradford   1962

   Close to Thee

       Filmed live in Utrecht, Netherlands

   It's a Highway to Heaven

       Filmed live in Utrecht, Netherlands

   One Step

   When You Pray


  Born in 1935 in Tunica, Mississippi, harmonica player James Cotton began his music career at age nine, being placed in the care of Sonny Boy Williamson II upon the death of his parents. Too young to enter the juke joints where Williamson played, Cotton often "opened" for him on the front steps outside. In Cotton's latter teens Williamson left for Milwaukee, after which Cotton connected with Howlin' Wolf in Arkansas. Cotton may likely have first recorded at age 18 with drummer Willie Nix in 1953, the same year he first recorded with his own band (those songs below, released in 1954). Cotton joined Muddy Water's band in 1954 and would remain a central figure in that group until 1966.

James Cotton   1953

   Baker Shop Boogie

      Vocal: Willie Nix

James Cotton   1954

   Cotton Crop Blues/Hold Me In Your Arms

   My Baby/Straighten Up Baby

James Cotton   1966

   Got My Mojo Working

      With Muddy Waters

James Cotton   1968

   Fallin' Rain

James Cotton   1995

   Dealing With The Devil


Birth of the Blues: James Cotton

James Cotton

Source: Globedia

  Born Curtis Ousley in Ft. Worth in 1934, King Curtis was an R&B and, later, soul saxophonist who swam with the blues, jazzed, and rocked as well. Curtis began playing sax at age twelve. At age eighteen Curtis seems to have known exactly what to do: head for New York City and find employment as a session musician. Which he did, also putting together a quintet and releasing his first 45 the next year in 1953 (Gem 208: 'Tenor In the Sky' b/w 'No More Crying On My Pillow'). Of the 140 sessions that Lord's disco ascribes to Curtis, the majority were R&B customers such as Big Joe Turner ('58, '59), Ruth Brown ('58, '59, '60) and LaVern Baker ('58, '59, '60, '61). He issued his first two albums in 1959: 'The Good Old Fifties' and 'Have Tenor Sax, Will Blow'. Curtis was murdered by knife twelve years later in August of 1971, age only 37, during an altercation with a couple drug dealers outside his residence in New York City. He had recorded 'Live at Fillmore West' that year in San Francisco, and 'Blues at Montreux' in Switzerland on June 17, the latter with Champion Jack Dupree (piano/vocals), Cornell Dupree (guitar) and Jerry Jemmott (electric bass). More King Curtis in Jazz 4 and Rock 1.

King Curtis   1953

   Tenor In the Sky

      First issue

King Curtis   1959

   Heavenly Blues

King Curtis   1960

   Jeep's Blues

King Curtis   1961

   Nobody Knows You When You're Down And Out

King Curtis   1964

   Harlem Nocturne

   Melancholy Serenade

King Curtis   1968

   Sweet Inspiration

King Curtis   1971

   Junker's Blues

      Live   Piano: Champion Jack Dupree

   Mr. Bojangles

      Album: 'Live at Fillmore West'

   Poor Boy Blues

      Live   Piano: Champion Jack Dupree

   A Whiter Shade of Pale

      Album: 'Live at Fillmore West'


Birth of Modern Jazz: King Curtis

King Curtis

Source: Discogs

Birth of the Blues: Otis Spann

Otis Spann

Source: Time Goes By

Born in 1924 in Jackson, Mississippi, it was 1952 when pianist Otis Spann joined (replaced Merriweather) Muddy Waters (same year as Junior Wells) with whom he first recorded in 1953. Nothing is found until his first solo release in 1954: 'It Must Have Been the Devil' with 'Five Spot' B side. Spann was also a session pianist much in demand, but his career would be cut short in 1970 when he died of liver cancer in Chicago, only 46 years old.

Otis Spann   1954

   Five Spot

   It Must Have Been the Devil

Otis Spann   1963

   Good Morning Mr. Blues

   Sad Day In Texas

Otis Spann   1964

   Keep Your Hand Out Of My Pocket

Otis Spann   1966

   Blues Don't Like Nobody

      Live performance

   Blues Jam

      Live with Muddy Waters

Otis Spann   1967

   Divin' Duck

Otis Spann   1968

   Nobody Knows My Troubles

      Live with Muddy Waters

Otis Spann   1970

   Mojo Working

Otis Spann   1972

   Spann's Stomp



Born Willie Mae Thornton in 1926 in Alabama, Big Mama Thornton blasted onto the rock scene with her first recording in 1953, then moved toward the blues. She does a rendition of Gershwin's 'Summertime' below. Thornton began her career at age fourteen, upon her mother's death, by joining the Hot Harlem Revue, with which she traveled the South for seven years. In 1948 she settled in Houston, where she signed on to Peacock Records in 1951. In 1965 Thornton toured Europe with the American Folk Blues Festival, during which she recorded her first album, 'Big Mama Thornton — In Europe'. She died of heart attack in 1984 in Los Angeles. More of Thornton, including her first recording, 'Hound Dog', can be found in Rock and Roll 4.

Big Mama Thornton   1960

   Down Home Shakedown

      Television performance

Big Mama Thornton   1965

   Little Red Rooster

   Your Love Is Where It Ought to Be

      Guitar: Buddy Guy

Big Mama Thornton   1966

   Feeling Alright

   Life Goes On

      With Muddy Waters


Big Mama Thornton   1968

   Ball and Chain

      With Muddy Waters

Big Mama Thornton   1969

   Watermelon Man

Big Mama Thornton   1971

   Rock Me

Big Mama Thornton   1975



Birth of the Blues: Big Mama Thornton

Big Mama Thornton

Source: Music Jam

A Creole born in 1925 in Louisiana, accordion and frottoir player Clifton Chenier first recorded in 1954, 'Clifton's Blues', on the Elko label. Chenier, with his cape and crown, would become known as the "King of Zydeco" (Zydeco is, basically, Cajun music, usually with accordion and guitar or, accordioning to Chenier: "rock and French mixed together." Among the first to record zydeco was accordion player Amédé Ardoin with fiddler Dennis McGee about 1930, neither of whom had a clue as to rock and roll at the time.) Chenier died of kidney disease in 1987 in Louisiana.

Clifton Chenier   1954

    Clifton's Blues

    Rockin' the Bop

Clifton Chenier   1955

    Think It Over

Clifton Chenier   1956

    Standing On the Corner

Clifton Chenier   1965

    Louisiana Blues

Clifton Chenier   1970

    I'm A Hog For You Baby

Clifton Chenier   1971

    Tighten Up Zydeco

       Live performance

Clifton Chenier   1973

    I'm Coming Home

       Live performance


Birth of the Blues: Clifton Chenier

Clifton Chenier

Source: Swing Joe

Born in Chicago in 1931, pianist and vocalist, James Cleveland attended the Pilgrim Baptist Church as a boy, the same where Thomas A Dorsey and Roberta Martin supplied the music. The King of Gospel, say some (though not all, due controversies in his life), began his career in black gospel in a trio with Bessie Folk and Norsalus McKissick in 1950. Upon the disbandment of that group Roberta Martin hired him as an arranger and composer. Cleveland would publish more than 400 compositions during his career, the major thrust to which was provided by Albertina Walker, Cleveland first recording with her Caravans in November of 1954. Cleveland also recorded with the Gospel All Stars in 1954. In 1959 he laid tracks with the Gospel Chimes. 1962 saw him signing up with Savoy Records, first recording the album, 'There Is No Failure In God', with the Gospel Chimes that January. He recorded the LP, 'This Sunday In Person!', with the Angelic Choir the next July, followed by 'Redeemed'/'Leave It There' in September. That December he recorded his first solo vocals for the release of 'The Soul of James Cleveland' the next year. His first sessions with the Cleveland Singers was in May of '63 toward the release of 'The Sun Will Shine After a While'. He is thought to have moved to Los Angeles, still under contract with Savoy, when he recorded more tracks with the Angelic Choir, yielding the song, 'Peace Be Still', among others. He was soon touring both the States and abroad. In 1967 Cleveland joined Albertina Walker in the launch of the Gospel Music Workshop of America. The GMWA has since become a huge organization holding conventions annually, growing from 3000 delegates (by some fashion in the music business) in 1968 to 12,000 in 2008. Along with workshops, recordings are made, most notably with a mass choir of two to three thousand singers. With Cleveland gospel moved beyond its earlier evangelistic concerns to those of gospel as an industry. He also involved himself with secular musicians as earlier black gospel singers weren't inclined to do. Cleveland founded the Southern California Community Choir in time for its appearance on Aretha Franklin's 'Amazing Grace' in 1972. He also appeared on recordings with EElton John. Cleveland further differed from earlier black gospel vocalists in that they were performing rather than recording artists. They sang for church audiences; Cleveland sang for the most not there. Recording well over a hundred albums, sixteen of them gold and four worth a Grammy, Cleveland had built an estate worth about five million dollars by the time he died of congestive heart failure in 1991 in Culver City, California. His funeral is said to have drawn an attendance of nearly 60,000.

James Cleveland   1954

   The Man Jesus

      With the Caravans

   Old Time Religion

      With the Caravans

   That's Why I Love Him So

      With the Gospel All Stars

James Cleveland   1955

   What Kind of Man Is This

      With the Caravans

James Cleveland   1959

   Something's Got a Hold of Me

     With the Voices of Tabernacle

James Cleveland   1960

   Try Jesus

     With Sallie Martin

James Cleveland   1969

   I'm One of Them Today

     With the Gospel Girls

  Meeting Tonight

     With the Gospel Girls

  People Get Ready

     With the Gospel Girls

  Two Wings

     With the Cleveland Singers

James Cleveland   1977

   I Write the Song

      Live at Carnegie Hall


Birth of the Blues: James Cleveland

James Cleveland

Source: Black Past
Birth of the Blues: Cassietta George

Cassietta George

Source: Discogs
Born in 1929 in Memphis, Tennessee, mezzo-soprano, Cassietta George, is requisite to the Black Gospel current on this page, blues arising out of the South something of a younger sibling to black gospel, though the Black Gospel genre proper postdated blues by a couple decades. Though blues and Black Gospel are two distinctly different limbs they intimately intertwine. Not all black gospel singers sang the blues, the blues being largely secular. But countless early blues musicians sang gospel, as many as sang the more risqué, sometimes between them. Black Gospel would also slap hands with R&B and get infused into soul music. George graduated from high school in Canton, Ohio, after which she returned to Memphis to sing with such as the Songbirds of the South and the Brewster Ensemble. She left for Chicago in 1953, joining one of Black Gospel's premier groups, the Caravans, in 1954. Replacing Bessie Griffin, George is thought to have first appeared on vinyl that year with the Caravans on the States label. That November she recorded lead on 'Wait For Me', though that wasn't released until February of '56. George spent a year or so with the Caravans, left, then returned in 1960. George composed about 25 songs with the Caravans (more than a hundred throughout her career), also singing lead on such as 'Remember Me, Oh Lord' ('62) and 'Walk Around Heaven' ('64). George issued her first of above fifteen albums, 'I Must Tell Jesus', in 1965, the year she left the Caravans for a solo career in Los Angeles. A reunion with the Caravans would occur in 1976 on the album, 'Share'. For being one of the Caravans' major vocalists (which one wasn't?), and highly popular in her own right, there is little information about her. She passed away in Los Angeles in January 1995.

Cassietta George   1962

   Remember Me, Oh Lord

      With the Caravans

Cassietta George   1965

   I Must Tell Jesus

      Album: 'I Must Tell Jesus'

   Roll Jordan Roll

      Album: 'I Must Tell Jesus'

   Sinner You're Gonna Be Sorry

      Album: 'I Must Tell Jesus'

Cassietta George   1967

   Don't Give Up

  In the Garden

  Oh How I Love Jesus

  Pass Me Not

Cassietta George   1968

   Every Day Brings About Change

  Somebody Bigger Than You and I

Cassietta George   1971

   He Never Left Me Alone


Though virtually unknown in America, Irish vocalist Ottilie Patterson did much to bring blues to the public in the United Kingdom. An art student before turning to music, Patterson began her career in 1951 with the Jimmy Compton Jazz Band. The next year she formed her own ensemble called the Muskrat Ramblers. It is thought she released her first recordings in 1955 with the Chris Barber Jazz Band. Indeed, to say Chris Barber or Ottilie Patterson is rather to say the other, as Barber and Patterson married in 1959. Patterson retired from the band in 1973. A decade later she and Barber divorced (1983), after recording a number of London performances resulting in her last record release in 1984, an album titled 'Madame Blues and Doctor Jazz'. Patterson died in 2011, 79 years old.

Ottilie Patterson   1955

   Careless Love

   I Can't Give You Anything But Love

   Make Me a Pallet On the Floor

   New St. Louis Blues

   St. Louis Blues

   Trouble In Mind

Ottilie Patterson   1958

   Jailhouse Blues

   Lawdy Lawdy Blues

Ottilie Patterson   1959

   Easy, Easy Baby

Ottilie Patterson   1960

   Mountain of Mourne

Ottilie Patterson   1962

   Down By the Riverside

Ottilie Patterson   1984

   Doctor Jazz

      Album: 'Madame Blues and Doctor Jazz'



Birth of the Blues: Ottilie Patterson

Ottilie Patterson

Source: Time Goes By

Birth of the Blues: Jackie Verdell

Jackie Verdell

Source: Lipstick Alley
Born in 1937 in Philadelphia, PA, Jackie Verdell was raised a Pentecostal in the Church of God In Christ. She wouldn't have made these histories as an obscure popular singer. Nor did she sing blues. Verdell's significance to these histories was her first several years in the music business as a gospel singer with the Davis Sisters beginning in 1955. Featured on a number of titles by the Sisters, circa '55 she sang lead on 'He's My King', 'Lord, Don't Leave Me' and 'Oh Happy Day'. Verdell abandoned the Sisters by 1960 but returned in '62 and '64 for recordings. She began her solo career with the release of 'You Ought to Know Him'/'Bye Bye Blackbird' in the summer of 1961, but never notably charted on Billboard. During the seventies she worked with Jesse Jackson and Operation PUSH (People United to Save Humanity). Jackson founded PUSH in 1971. Verdell also moved toward theatre in the seventies, appearing in the musicals, 'Black Nativity' and 'Don't Cry Mary'. She surfaced with the Davis Sisters again in 1981 on the last album by that group: 'The Storm Is Passing Over'. Verdell also sang back vocals for a variety of artists, including Van Morrison and Horace Silver. Though a vocalist the most removed from blues on this page but for gospel, Verdell was otherwise loaded with them. Beset with diabetes, kidney disease and liver disease, she passed beyond in August of 1991. More Verdell under the Davis Sisters.

Jackie Verdell   1955?

   He's My King

      Davis Sisters

   Lord Don't Leave Me By Myself

      Davis Sisters

   Oh Happy Day

      Davis Sisters

Jackie Verdell   1957

   I Don't Know What I'd Do

      Davis Sisters

Jackie Verdell   1963


   Why Not Give Me a Chance

Jackie Verdell   1964

   Come Let Me Love You

Jackie Verdell   1967

   Are You Ready For This

   Does She Ever Remind You of Me

Jackie Verdell   1973

   He's Mine

Jackie Verdell   1978


Jackie Verdell   1981

   I Believe I'll Go Back Home

     Davis Sisters

      Album: 'The Storm Is Passing Over'



Many aren't aware that soul singer Aretha Franklin was a a blues pianist. She released her first recordings in 1956 for JVB Records. Per below, a touch of blues and gospel, intimate siblings, back then and later. A fuller history per Franklin is at Rock 1.

Aretha Franklin   1956

   Yield Not To Temptation

Aretha Franklin   1960

    Love Is The Only Thing Blues

   Today I Sing The Blues

Aretha Franklin   1961

   All Night Long

   Sweet Lover/All Night Long

Aretha Franklin   1964

   Evil Gal Blues

Aretha Franklin   1995

   It Hurts Like Hell

Aretha Franklin   2005

   Amazing Grace


Birth of the Blues: Aretha Franklin

Aretha Franklin

Source: Altin Madalyon

  Born in 1935 in Atlanta, Georgia, Dorothy Norwood, was singing with Mahalia Jackson in 1955, the same year, if not the next, that she joined the Black Gospel group, the Caravans. Albertina Walker, who ran the Caravans, is said to have invited Norwood into the group upon hearing her on the radio in 1956, singing 'Low Is the Way'. Dates conflict between sources. Howsoever, Norwood first recorded with the Caravans in 1956. She began her solo career in 1960. She issued her first LP, 'Johnny and Jesus', in 1964 for Savoy, that to go gold, which would be followed by four more of her albums numbering above fifty. Tours in promotion of her albums included Europe where she built a strong audience. Notable in the seventies was her 1972 tour of the States with the Rolling Stones, not really such an odd pairing, considering R&B's vast capacity, though a long stretch from Black Gospel's original church-bound evangelism of the thirties when Thomas A Dorsey fairly established the genre with Sallie Martin. Well, not a little expands full circle. As Georgia Tom and Tampa Red have said, referring elsewise, it's tight like that. Howsoever, Norwood wasn't the first Black Gospel artist to take The Book to who read otherwise. Clara Ward had found the Playboy Mansion hospitable in 1968 and '69. In 1991 Norwood distinguished herself again, this time with the Northern California G.M.W.A. Mass Choir, releasing the album, 'Live', that gained a #1 spot on Billboard. She founded the Dorothy Norwood Scholarship Foundation in 2004. In 2012 Norwood began her own label, the Dorothy Norwood Music Group. 'An Incredible Journey', issued in 2014, is her latest album.

Dorothy Norwood   1956

   Standing In the Need of Prayer

      With the Caravans

Dorothy Norwood   1964

   God's Grace

      With the Caravans

   Johnny and Jesus

      Debut album: 'Johnny and Jesus'

     With the Dorothy Norwood Singers

Dorothy Norwood   1965

   He Will Never Let Go My Hand

      Album: 'He Will Never Let Go My Hand'

   Step By Step

      Album: 'He Will Never Let Go My Hand'

Dorothy Norwood   1970

   Brother Came Too Late

      Album: 'The Dynamic Dorothy Norwood'

   He'll Make It Alright

      Album: 'The Dynamic Dorothy Norwood'


      Album: 'The Dynamic Dorothy Norwood'

Dorothy Norwood   1990

   I Am What God Says I Am

      Album: 'A Wonderful Day'

   Train Wouldn't Move

      Album: 'A Wonderful Day'

Dorothy Norwood   1998

   Grace & Mercy!

      Filmed live

   It's On the Way   Parts 1 & 2

      Album: 'It's Alright'

     Savannah Community Choir

   Near the Cross Filmed live

      Filmed live

   We've Come a Long Way!

      Filmed live

Dorothy Norwood   2006

   Holy Ghost

      Album: 'The Caravans Paved the Way'

Dorothy Norwood   2011

   We've Come a Long Way

      Album: 'God's Been Just That Good'

Dorothy Norwood   2015

   Oh Jesus   Parts 1 & 2

      Album: 'An Incredible Journey'


Birth of the Blues: Dorothy Norwood

Dorothy Norwood

Source: Live My Gospel
  Contralto Black Gospel singer, Inez Andrews, was born Inez McConico in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1929. Her father was a coal miner married to a woman who died when Andrews was two. She herself was a mother, earning $18 a week as a domestic, when she began composing. She worked with the Choral Ensemble in the forties before becoming an understudy to Dorothy Love Coates in the Harmonettes. Joining the Caravans in 1957, among her first recordings with that group was 'Come On Jesus' that year, sharing lead with Dorothy Norwood. Andrews sang lead on a number of Caravans recordings before abandoning the group in 1962 to form the Andrewettes. Pursuing a solo career later that decade, her record releases include nineteen studio albums with one live in 1974: 'Live at the Munich Gospel Festival'. Her last was 'Shine On Me', issued in 1991.She was elected into the Gospel Hall of Fame in 2002. Andrews died in December 2012.

Inez Andrews   1958

   I'm Not Tired Yet

      With the Caravans

Inez Andrews   1959

   Mary Don't You Weep

      With the Caravans

Inez Andrews   1960

   They Didn't Believe In Me

      With the Caravans

Inez Andrews   1961

   Hear Ye the Word

      With the Caravans

   Make It In

      With the Caravans

Inez Andrews   1964

   The Need of Prayer

      With the Andrewettes

Inez Andrews   1973

   Lord Don't Move That Mountain

      Album: 'Lord Don't Move That Mountain'

   Looking Back

      Album: 'Lord Don't Move That Mountain'

Inez Andrews   1990

   I Made It!

&      Filmed live in Washington DC


Birth of the Blues: Inez Andrews

Inez Andrews

Source: Alchetron
  Slim Harpo was among the Excello label swamp blues musicians. Swamp blues, centered in Baton Rouge, were a slower version of Louisiana blues that developed after World War II. Born James Isaac Moore in 1924 in Louisiana, Harpo quit school upon the death of his parents to play mouth harp anywhere possible, using the name, Harmonica Slim, until he began recording. (There was another Harmonica Slim so he changed his name to Slim Harpo.) His first record release occurred in 1957: 'I'm a King Bee' b/w 'I've Got Love If You Want It'. Harpo supported his career as a truck driver in the early sixties. But about 1964 his recordings were selling fairly well in the United Kingdom and big-name British rock bands were using his material. (The Moody Blues took their name from one of Harpo's songs. 'Moody Blues', below.) Unfortunately Harpo wouldn't enjoy the fast lane very long, for he died of heart attack in 1970 in Baton Rouge, only 46 years years old.

Slim Harpo   1957

   I'm a King Bee

   I've Got Love If You Want It

Slim Harpo   1958

   Strange Love/Wondering and Worryin'

Slim Harpo   1959/font>

   One More Day

   You'll Be Sorry Some Day

Slim Harpo   1961

   Moody Blues

Slim Harpo   1966

   Baby Scratch My Back

   Shake Your Hips


Birth of the Blues: Slim Harpo

Slim Harpo

Source: Raised On Records

Birth of the Blues: Lazy Lester

Lazy Lester

Source: Extra Torrent

Born Leslie Johnson in Louisiana in 1933, guitar and mouth harp player Lazy Lester was another Excello label swamp blues musician. Lester first recorded in 1957 via serendipity. It seems he'd unknowingly taken a seat on a bus next to Lightnin' Slim, the latter on his way to a recording session for Jay Miller of Excello Records. Apparently Slim's company was more significant to Lester than his own destination, so he got off the bus with Slim, seven miles short of where he was going (Crowley), and accompanied Slim to the studio. As it happens, Slim's harmonica player didn't show for the session so Lester ended up filling his spot. Lester got his name from Miller due, not to sloth, but his performing style.

Lazy Lester   1957

   Hoodoo Blues

      With Lightnin' Slim

   I'm Gonna Leave You Baby

   Go Ahead

   I Told My Little Woman

   Tell Me Pretty Baby

Lazy Lester   1958

   I'm a Lover Not a Fighter/Sugar Coated Love

Lazy Lester   1959

   I Hear You Knockin'

   I Love You, I Need You

   Late in the Evening

   Through The Goodness Of My Heart

Lazy Lester   1960

   A Real Combination for Love

Lazy Lester   2011

   Scratch My Back

      Live performance

   Sugar Coated Love

      Live performance

   That's Alright

      Live performance


Birth of the Blues: Mattie Moss Clark

Mattie Moss Clark

Source: Praise 1300
Born the seventh of nine children in 1925 in Selma, Alabama, black gospel vocalist, Mattie Moss Clark, began piano at age six. Black gospel runs parallel down this page both with and without the Blues. Though both genres were and remain widely divergent they share the same ancestry in the Deep South, blues a secular path astray from old time religion in black churches. Howsoever, as many early blues musicians sang black gospel as sang the more profane. Black Gospel easily mixed with blues, found R&B accommodating and would become an essence of soul music. Clark, however, was a gospel, not blues, vocalist, her entry on this page being peripheral as such. She's distinguished from other black gospel performers on this page in that her groups were larger, that is, choirs. She also differed in that her base of operations was in Detroit rather than Chicago where Black Gospel was formally developed as a genre, first in the interest of evangelism, then as a musical industry. She was, however, Pentecostal, as were the majority of Black Gospel singers. Clark began playing piano before she was a teenager at church services, her mother the minister of the Holiness Temple Church of Christ in Prayer. Attending Selma University to study music after high school, she then moved to Detroit to join the Greater Love Tabernacle Church of God in Christ. Becoming Minister of Music, she would soon be training choirs throughout the southwest Michigan jurisdiction of COGIC (Church of God in Christ). Her first vinyl was in 1958 with the Southwest Michigan State Choir (SMSC) on an album that went gold (the first of three with that choir): 'Going to Heaven to Meet the King'. In 1968 Clark became International President of the Music Department for COGIC. She received an honorary doctorate in 1981 from Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, thus was also known as Dr. Mattie Moss Clark. Clark arranged or composed well over a hundred songs and recorded over fifty albums, most with choirs. She died in Southfield, Michigan, in September 1994.

Mattie Moss Clark   1959

   Going to Heaven to Meet the King

      Album: 'Lord Do Something For Me'

     2nd LP by the SMSC

Mattie Moss Clark   1978

   That Shall He Also Reap

     Album: 'I'm Crucified With Christ'

     Michigan State Community Choir

   They Were Overcome

     'American Black Journal' television broadcast

Mattie Moss Clark   1986

   Caught Up To Meet Him

     Southern California Holy Gospel Music Workshop

   Tried Him and I Know Him

     Southern California Holy Gospel Music Workshop

     With Twinkie Clark

Mattie Moss Clark   1990

   I Can Do All Things Through Christ

     Filmed live

Mattie Moss Clark   1994

   Be Still and Know That I Am God

     COGIC National Music Choir


  Born Aaron Willis in 1932 in Greensboro, Alabama, harmonica player Little Sonny (called "Sonny Boy" by his mother) left for Detroit in 1953 where he worked at a used car lot. He had no musical designs until chancing to hear Sonny Boy Williamson II at a local show. His first professional performance was with Washboard Willie at the Good Times Bar, after which he formed his own band in 1956.Sonny's first record release was in 1958 with 'I Gotta Find My Baby'. It was the 25 dollars he later got for 'Love Shock' that moved him to begin his own record label, Speedway Records, 'The Mix Up' the first song he produced for himself, earning enough to cover costs.

Little Sonny   1958

   Hear My Woman Calling

   I Gotta Find My Baby

   I Love You Baby Until the Day I Die

   Love Shock

Little Sonny   1962

   The Mix Up

Little Sonny   1966

   The Creeper Returns

   Latin Soul

Little Sonny   1972

   Eli's Porkchop

   Memphis B-K


Birth of the Blues: Little Sonny

Little Sonny

Source: Oakland Press

Birth of the Blues: Janis Joplin

Janis Joplin

Source: Curiosidades

Born in Port Arthur, Texas, in 1943, it was 1962 when blues rock singer Janis Joplin recorded her first blues song: 'What Good Can Drinkin' Do'. She joined the group, Big Brother and the Holding Company, in 1966, which debut album, 'Big Brother and the Holding Company', was released in August of '67. Their second album, 'Cheap Thrills', was released the following year. Joplin last performed with the group in December of '68, after which she formed the Kozmic Blues Band. In 1969 she performed at Woodstock, then put together the Full Tilt Boogie Band in 1970. Her last public appearance was with that band at Harvard Stadium in Boston in August 1970. Her album, 'Pearl', on which appears her last recording, 'Mercedes Benz' (October 1, 1970), was released in 1971 posthumously. Three days after recording 'Mercedes Benz' Joplin was discovered dead in her hotel room at the Landmark in Hollywood (October 4, 1970). Joplin was a woman with enormous potential. But she vanished young, only 27 years old, of heroin overdose, perhaps in combination with alcohol. (Joplin liked her Southern Comfort, once commenting that she drank before performances because she was otherwise too shy). Also associated with acid rock (a couple examples of psychedelic below), perhaps Joplin's most popular releases were simple folk songs such as 'Mercedes Benz' and 'Me & Bobby McGee'. Several live performances below.

Janis Joplin   1962

   Black Mountain Blues

   What Good Can Drinkin' Do

Janis Joplin   1965

   219 Train

   Apple of My Eye

Janis Joplin   1967

   Combination of the Two

Janis Joplin   1968

   Easy Once You Know How

   Piece of My Heart

   Turtle Blues

Janis Joplin   1969

   Ball and Chain

   Dear Landlord

   Little Girl Blue



      Woodstock performance

Janis Joplin   1970

   Cry Baby

Janis Joplin   1971

   Me & Bobby McGee

      Composition: Kris Kristofferson

   Mercedes Benz


Birth of the Blues: Moses Whispering Smith

ZZ Hill

Source: All Music
Born in 1935 in Naples, TX, ZZ Hill (Arzell Hill) released his first records on 1963 for the Mesa then M.H. labels: 'The Right to Love'/'Five Will Get You Ten' and 'Tomble Weed'/'You Were Wrong'. M.H. was a budding label owned by Hill's brother, Mike Hill. 'Whole Lot of Soul' was Hill's debut album six years later in 1969. Wikipedia shows Hill issuing fifteen albums up to his last in 1984: 'Thrill On a Hill'. 'In Memoriam' was released posthumously in 1985, as Hill died at age 49 in Dallas in 1984 of heart attack.

ZZ Hill   1963

   You Were Wrong

ZZ Hill   1965

   That's It

ZZ Hill   1966

   Set Your Sights Higher

ZZ Hill   1968

   Don't Make Promises

ZZ Hill   1972

   It Ain't No Use

   Second Chance

ZZ Hill   1975

   Keep on Lovin' You


ZZ Hill   1978

   Universal Love


ZZ Hill   1982

   Cheatin' In the Next Room

      LP: 'Down Home Blues'

   Down Home Blues

      LP: 'Down Home Blues'

   Everybody Knows About My Good Thing

      LP: 'Down Home Blues'

   Someone Else is Steppin In

      LP: 'The Rhythm & The Blues'

   Wang Dang Doodle

      LP: 'The Rhythm & The Blues'


  Born in 1932 in Union Church, Mississippi, Moses Whispering Smith was a swamp blues (Baton Rouge blues, basically) harmonica player supposed to have recorded with Lightnin' Slim and Silas Hogan before releasing his own material. Though that is very likely no record of such exists at So we list his first recordings beginning with his own the same year. Whispering Smith released his last recordings with Excello in 1971, an album titled 'Over Easy'. He died in 1984, only 52 years of age.

Moses Whispering Smith   1963

   Don't Leave Me Baby

   Hound Dog Twist

   Mean Woman Blues

Moses Whispering Smith   1973

   It's All Over

   Why Am I Treated So Bad


Birth of the Blues: Moses Whispering Smith

Moses Whispering Smith

Photo: Norbert Hess

Source: Harmonica Arena

Birth of the Blues: Koko Taylor

Koko Taylor

Source: Dead Celebrity Haiku

Born Cora Walton in 1928 in Tennessee, Koko Taylor, a Chicago blues vocalist, was discovered by Willie Dixon, who produced Taylor's first recordings in 1962 (such as 'Honky Tonky', below, released in 1963). Her debut recordings for the Chess label were in 1964, switching to Alligator in 1975 when Chess sank. Perhaps most famous for 'Wang Dang Doodle', released in 1966, Taylor died in 2009 in Chicago.

Koko Taylor   1963

   Honky Tonky

Koko Taylor   1964

   I Got What It Takes

   Wang Dang Doodle

Koko Taylor   1968

   Insane Asylum

      With Willie Dixon

   Love You Like a Woman

Koko Taylor   1973

   I'm a Little Mixed Up

Koko Taylor   1975

   I'd Rather Go Blind

   That's Why I'm Crying

Koko Taylor   1981

   Bad Case Of Loving You

Koko Taylor   1993

   Can't Let Go

Koko Taylor   2007

   I'm a Woman



Born in 1942 in Chicago, Paul Butterfield's first recordings in 1964 were rejected by Elektra Records. They were released much later in 1995 as 'The Original Lost Elektra Sessions'. Seven of its nineteen tracks are included below (all of year 1964). The lead guitarist is Mike Bloomfield who will be found in Blues 3. Though Butterfield also played guitar and keyboards (flute as a child), his main instrument was harmonica. He began his career upon forming a band with Elvin Bishop in 1963 and securing a gig at Big John's in Chicago. By hook and crook his became the Paul Butterfield Blues Band which released its first album in 1965, simply titled, 'The Paul Butterfield Blues Band'. That group's last album was released in 1971: 'Sometimes I Just Feel Like Smilin''. Butterfield then went on to form the group, Better Days, resulting in three albums. In 1975 Butterfield joined Muddy Waters on the album, 'The Muddy Waters Woodstock Album', after which he performed at The Band's last concert, The Last Waltz, in 1976. Butterfield died in 1987 of an accidental drug overdose, only six years after the death of his partner, Mike Bloomfield. All the tracks following year 1964 below are live performances with the exception of the last two which are samples of Butterfield upon going disco.

Paul Butterfield   1964

   Goin' Down Slow

   Hate to See You Go

   Love Her With a Feeling

   Nut Popper #1

   Our Love Is Driftin'

   Poor Boy

   That's All Right

Paul Butterfield   1966

   Got a Mind to Give Up Living

Paul Butterfield   1967

   Driftin' Blues

Paul Butterfield   1969

   Everything's Gonna Be All Right

      Live at Woodstock

Paul Butterfield   1973

   Too Many Drivers

Paul Butterfield   1977

   Slow Down

Paul Butterfield   1979

   Mystery Train

      With Rick Danko and Bob Welch

Paul Butterfield   1980

   Change of Heart

Paul Butterfield   1981

   I Get Excited


Birth of the Blues: Paul Butterfield

Paul Butterfield

Source: Music Fly

Birth of the Blues: Spencer Davis Group

Spencer Davis Group

Source: Rok Pool

Formed in Birmingham, England, in 1963, the remarkable Spencer Davis Group consisted of Muff Winwood on bass, his brother Steve Winwood on organ (who would move on to Cream and, later, Traffic in 1967), Pete York on drums and Spencer Davis oft on harmonica. Though the group disbanded in 1969 it was reunited again in 1973 with different personnel. (Steve Winwood left in 1967 to form Traffic.) Spencer Davis yet performs with his group, though its members have changed over the years. The band signed their first record contract in 1964, first recording 'Dimples' with 'Sittin' and Thinkin' flip side, followed by 'I Can't Stand It' with 'Midnight Train'. They next released 'Every Little Bit Hurts' with 'It Hurts Me So' in 1965. All these tracks are on their first album below, 'The Spencer Davis Group', also released in 1965. Recordings below are chronological by year, not month, and most are live performances. More Spencer Davis Group in A Birth of Rock and Roll 6.

Spencer Davis Group   1964


Spencer Davis Group   1966

   The Spencer Davis Group

      First album

   Dust My Broom

   Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out

      Album: 'Autumn '66'

   The Second Album


   Sittin' and Thinkin'

      Live performance

   Somebody Help Me

   Stevie's Blues

   When I Come Home

Spencer Davis Group   1967

   Georgia On My Mind

   Gimme Some Lovin'

   I'm a Man



Born in 1933 in England, John Mayall's was probably my own favorite group in high school. Mayall played multiple instruments such as keyboards and guitar, but is better known for harmonica. Mayall was serving in Korea for three years when he bought his first electric guitar on a leave. Upon discharge from service Mayall acquired a degree from the Manchester College of Art. He thus supported his early days in music as a designer. In 1956 he formed his first group, the Powerhouse Four. When that band became known as the Bluesbreakers in 1963 it was John McVie on bass, Martin Hart on drums and Bernie Watson on guitar. After the band recorded its first release in 1964, 'Crawling Up a Hill' with 'Mr. James' flip side, Hughie Flint took the drums and Roger Dean replaced Watson. (The studio version of 'Crawling Up a Hill' is indexed below. A live version will be found at a Birth of Rock n Roll 6.) Mayall released his first album, 'John Mayall Plays John Mayall', in 1965, after which guitarist Eric Clapton replaced Dean in the Bluesbreakers and the band began to take off with the release of the album, 'John Mayall With Eric Clapton', in 1966. (Mayall plays with Eric Clapton in selections below for the years 1965 through 1966.) Clapton was replaced by Peter Green in 1966, then Green exchanged for Mick Taylor in 1967, Taylor first appearing on the album 'Crusade'. Although Mayall released the album, 'Blues From Laurel Canyon' in 1968, he didn't move to Los Angeles, of which Laurel Canyon is a suburb, until 1969, residing there until 1979. 'Looking Back' ('69)was his last issue before leaving the UK for the States. 'The Turning Point' was issued in 1969 after that move. In 1970 Mayall recruited guitarist, Harvey Mandel, from the band, Canned Heat. Bassist, Larry Taylor, also of Canned Heat, had been with Mayall since the prior year, first appearing on the album, 'Empty Rooms'. 'Jazz Blues Fusion' was issued in 1971 (minus Mandel, plus Freddy Robinson and trumpeter, Blue Mitchell). By the eighties Mayall was a legend, taking his group on an international tour of two years in 1982. Guitarist, Buddy Whittington, joined Mayall in 1993. The album, 'Along for the Ride', appeared in 2001. Having issued a prodigious quantity of music over the decades, Mayall's latest release as of this writing was 'Find a Way to Care' in 2015.

John Mayall   1964

   Crawling Up a Hill

  Mr. James

John Mayall   1965

   Blues City Shakedown

  Crawling Up a Hill

      Album: 'John Mayall Plays John Mayall'

  Crocodile Walk

   I'm Your Witchdoctor

   Telephone Blues

John Mayall   1966

   All Your Love

      Album: 'Blues Breakers'

   Hide Away

   Parchman Farm

John Mayall   1967

   Drivin' Sideways

   It Hurts Me Too

   Oh, Pretty Woman

      Original composition: Albert King

John Mayall   1968

   I Can't Sleep

      Live at the Fillmore

   I Started Walking

   Walking On Sunset

      Live performance

John Mayall   1969


      Album: 'The Turning Point'

   So Hard To Share

      Album: 'The Turning Point Soundtrack'

John Mayall   1970

   The Laws Must Change

      Live performance

John Mayall   1971

   My Pretty Girl

      Live performance

   Mess Around

      Live performance

   Gasoline Blues

John Mayall   1982

   Stormy Monday

      Original composition: T-Bone Walker   Live with Albert King

John Mayall   1984

   Room To Move

      Live performance

John Mayall   1993

   The Bear

      Live performance

John Mayall   2003

   Oh, Pretty Woman

      Original composition: Albert King   Live performance

John Mayall   2007

   So Many Roads

      Live performance

John Mayall   2011

   All Your Love

      Live performance


Birth of the Blues: John Mayall

John Mayall

Source: Spirit of Rock

  Born in 1942 in San Francisco, gospel composer and vocalist, Andraé Crouch, wasn't a blues singer. He is entered here due his proximity to blues via Black Gospel, gospel and the blues being something alike two aspects of the same token, sharing to some degree the same origins. Crouch was among the bigger names in gospel music, beginning his career while Black Gospel was yet in its golden era, finding place here as a successor to those black gospel singers already mentioned in relation to the blues. Crouch's parents owned both a dry cleaning business and a restaurant. They also ran a street, hospital and prison ministry. He began playing piano at church services at age eleven. Like most Black Gospel musicians, Crouch was a Pentecostal, forming his first group in 1960 called the Church of God in Christ Singers. Billy Preston play keyboards in that group. Other members were Edna Wright, Frankie Karl, Gloria Jones, Sondra Williams and Sandra Crouch when it's thought they recorded, or began recording, the album, 'It's a Blessing', in 1964, released in 1966. In 1965 Crouch put together the Disciples. Its original members, Reuben Fernandez, Perry Morgan and Bili Thedford and Sherman Andrus recorded and issued the album, 'Take the Message Everywhere', in 1968. Personnel began changing after that, which we'll not follow but that in 1970 Fernandez and Andrus left, replaced by Sandra Crouch and Danniebelle Hall. The Disciples were a big deal in a genre (gospel) that was very small in comparison to country western or rock. Americans were buying Led Zeppelin and Santana, not evangelism. Hymns traditional and young were sung in churches by a vast population, but the music industry didn't attend services. Early Black Gospel had had big band swing with which to contend; by Crouch's time the musical climate was less sweet and more by request of Their Satanic Majesties. White folk had their own versions of gospel to dispense, but rock was taking its toll on the country genres as well. Bluegrass was such a small market as to be nigh nonexistent. Folk music that didn't rock went nowhere. Gospel in country western, its bastion most fierce, was fading as its "outlaws," good old boys gone astray, took over, country western gone from country swing toward country rock. Such the American musical zeitgeist when the Disciples played the 'Johnny Carson Show' in 1972. The next year Crouch issued his debut solo album, 'Just Andrae'. The Disciples' first appearance at Carnegie Hall was in 1975. They released 'Live in London' in 1978. The Disciples' ninth and last LP, 'I'll Be Thinking of You', was issued in 1979, the year they played Carnegie once again before disbanding. Pursuing a solo career, in 1982 Crouch had a bit of bad luck, getting arrested for a vial of cocaine in his pocket during a traffic stop. Crouch's explanation: it was chicken soup powder, that then belonged to a friend. He was released with no charges. In the latter eighties and early nineties the Andraé Crouch Choir would appear on releases by Michael Jackson. Crouch's popularization of gospel music, having small resemblance to what had passed before, had lasting power, Warner Brothers Records releasing a collection of his compositions, performed by various artists, that won a Grammy in 1996: 'Tribute: The Songs of Andraé Crouch'. Crouch was touring when in 2014 his heart began to fail. He died in January 2015 after a heart attack in Los Angeles. Crouch had released nearly twenty albums, won seven Grammy Awards, four Dove Awards (GMA: Gospel Music Association founded 1969) and had been inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame (GMA) in 1998. Per 1966 below, multiple sources give release dates of both 1964 and 1966 for 'It's a Blessing'. Unsuccessful in discovering just which it is, we're going by the date at discogs, a site which in the course of writing this history we've determined to be among the more trustworthy in that regard.

Andraé Crouch   1966

   He Included Me

      Album: 'It's a Blessing'

     The COGICs

   It's a Blessing

      Album: 'It's a Blessing'

     The COGICs   Lead: Sondra Williams

Andraé Crouch   1972

   I Don't Know Why Jesus Loves Me

      Filmed live at Explo Dallas

     With the Disciples

Andraé Crouch   1975


      Television broadcast

   Through It All

      Billy Graham Crusade

      Filmed live in New Mexico

Andraé Crouch   1980

   It's Gonna Rain

      'Michael Douglas Show'

Andraé Crouch   1983

   An Evening of Praise and Worship

      Television broadcast

Andraé Crouch   1986

   That's Why I Needed You

      Filmed live

Andraé Crouch   1997

   Lord I Thank You

      Album: 'Pray'

    Your Love

      Album: 'Pray'

Andraé Crouch   2011

   I Don't Know Why

      Filmed live


Birth of the Blues: Andrae Crouch

Andrae Crouch

Source: All Music

Birth of the Blues: Charlie Mussle white

Charlie Musselwhite

Source: Blues Historian

Born in 1944 in Mississippi, harmonica player Charlie Musselwhite released his first recording, the highly regarded 'Stand Back! Here Comes Charley Musselwhite's Southside Band', in 1967 (recorded in 1966). All the tracks below for that year are from that album. The bottom four samples are live recordings. Musselwhite was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 2010.

Charlie Musselwhite   1967

   39th and Indiana

   4 P.M.

   Cha Cha the Blues

   Christo Redemptor

   Early In the Morning

   Help Me

   My Baby

   Sad Day

Charlie Musselwhite   1968

   Everything's Gonna Be All Right

Charlie Musselwhite   1974

   Finger Lickin' Good

Charlie Musselwhite   2004


Charlie Musselwhite   2008

   My Road Lies In Darkness

Charlie Musselwhite   2009

   River Hip Mama

Charlie Musselwhite   2011

   Uncle Sam Blues


Birth of Rock & Roll: Pacific Gas and Electric

Pacific Gas & Electric

Source: San Diego Reader
Pacific Gas & Electric released the single, 'Are You Ready?', in 1970 to great success. It is placed on this page rather than under blues guitar because it was formed by drummer, Charlie Allen, who would become vocalist for the group. Electric originated in 1968 to issue its first LP that year: 'Get It On'. It issued 'Pacific Gas & Electric' in '69 followed by 'Are You Ready' in 1970. At the core of the band up to that time were Brent Block (bass), Frank Cook (drums), Glenn Schwartz (lead guitar) and Tom Marshall (rhythm guitar). It was inevitable that the Pacific Gas and Electric utilities company would wish to avoid confusion with the band, the group changing its name to PG&E in 1971, Allen now running a completely different crew with Frank Peticca on bass, Ron Woods at drums and Ken Utterback picking up lead guitar. PG&E issued 'PG&E' that year. Their next and last album in 1973 was nevertheless titled 'Pacific Gas & Electric Starring Charlie Allen'. 'Live 'n' Kicking at Lexington', recorded in 1970, was released in 2007. Allen died in 1990, only 48 years of age, cause unknown for all that can be determined. Per 1968 below, all tracks are from the LP, 'Get It On'. Per 1970 all tracks are from the album, 'Are You Ready'.

Pacific Gas & Electric   1968

   Cry Cry Cry

   The Hunter

   Jelly Jelly

   Live Love

   Long Handled Shovel

   Motor City's Burning

   Stormy Times

   Wade In the Water

Pacific Gas & Electric   1969

   Pacific Gas and Electric


   Stormy Times


Pacific Gas & Electric   1970

   The Blackberry


   Hawg For You

   Love Love Love Love Love

   Mother Why Do You Cry






With Pacific Gas & Electric we pause this history of modern blues. We will be entering other notable blues musicians as such occur.




Early Blues 1: Guitar

Early Blues 2: Vocal - Other Instruments

Modern Blues 1: Guitar

Modern Blues 2: Vocal - Other Instruments


Medieval - Renaissance


Galant - Classical

Romantic: Composers born 1770 to 1840

Romantic - Impressionist

Expressionist - Modern

Modern: Composers born 1900 to 1950




Country Western


Early Jazz 1: Ragtime - Bands - Horn

Early Jazz 2: Ragtime - Other Instrumentation

Early Jazz 3: Ragtime - Song - Hollywood

Swing Era 1: Big Bands

Swing Era 2: Song

Modern 1: Saxophone

Modern 2: Trumpet - Other Horn

Modern 3: Piano

Modern 4: Guitar - Other String

Modern 5: Percussion - Other Orchestration

Modern 6: Song

Modern 7: Latin Jazz - Latin Recording

Modern 8: United States 1960 - 1970

Modern 9: International 1960 - 1970

Rock & Roll

Early - Boogie Woogie - R&B - Soul - Disco

Doo Wop

The Big Bang - Fifties American Rock

UK Beat

British Invasion

Total War - Sixties American Rock

Other Musical Genres - Popular Music Appendix

Musician Indexes

Classical - Medieval to Renaissance

Classical - Baroque to Classical

Classical - Romantic to Modern

The Blues

Bluegrass - Folk

Country Western

Jazz Early - Ragtime - Swing Jazz

Jazz Early - Swing Jazz

Jazz Modern - Horn

Jazz Modern - Piano - String

Jazz Modern - Percussion - Latin - Song - Other

Jazz Modern - 1960 to 1970

Boogie Woogie - Doo Wop - R&B - Rock & Roll - Soul

UK Beat - British Invasion

Sixties American Rock - Popular


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