Sound Obsession

Electric Blues Pt. 2

120 minsFirst aired 26 Nov 2016
Artwork by Nick Taylor

Kirk takes your musical heroes and puts their discography to the acid test. Here’s part two of his special on the electric blues legacy.

An important link between classic blues music, jazz-inspired jump numbers and early rock & roll, electric blues has been around since the 1930s. Just about when the invention of Gibson’s ES-150 helped re-imagine the course of popular music, electric blues grew into a proper genre in 1940s Chicago, spearheaded by artists such as John Lee Williamson and Johnny Shines, and taken to perfection by Muddy Waters, relocating the former rural song tradition in a predominantly urban environment. While Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf and J.T. Brown laid greater emphasis on the blues harp and their deep, gravelly voices, Albert King, Buddy Guy and other West Side style artists of the ’50s crafted a template for what was to become blues-rock. Various sub-branches quickly developed in places like Memphis, Detroit and New Orleans, starting an international movement that went on to inspire generations of rock & roll and R&B acts from Canned Heat and Jimi Hendrix to John Mayall and Free.

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