I was recently told, by an American who’d read America’s Gift, how astounded he was at how little he knew about the history of his country’s music. And he was a big blues fan. “America’s Gift should be taught in schools,” he said. “But it won’t be, because there’s too much in it (America’s Gift)… Continue reading Steel Guitar Steal
It’s astounding just how many assumptions there are about the evolution of the blues. I remember Van Morrison saying recently that “some people think the blues started with Jimi Hendrix”. Others think blues started in the 1950s with the emergence of Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker and company. Talking of John Lee Hooker, I… Continue reading The history of blues is rarely what you think.
I’ve just made a short film using a superb 1928 guitar duet as the soundtrack. It’s by Lonnie Johnson and jazz guitar pioneer Eddie Lang, who died prematurely five years later aged just 31. There’s more about Eddie in my book America’s Gift. Eddie Lang is playing rhythm guitar and the wonderful single string… Continue reading Blues – America’s greatest gift to the world?
George Barnes, anyone? I bet only the most hardcore blues and jazz enthusiasts know of that sublime electric guitarist George Barnes. This isn’t just sad, it’s a travesty. George was recorded eight years before Muddy, before Buddy (Guy – not Holly), before even Howlin’ Wolf – in those days before the electric blues-style of guitar-playing we know… Continue reading 1938’s blues guitar boy wonder
One of London’s lesser known attractions is a network of ancient tunnels, carved out by man, under the city’s leafy south-eastern suburb of Chislehurst. Fittingly, David Bowie, who lived and grew-up in nearby Bromley, regularly performed in the Chislehurst Caves with his pop band, the Konrads, in June 1962. David was 15-years-old and yet to change his… Continue reading Raves in the Caves. World’s oldest rock venue?
I have just watched my teenage years unfold before me on screen after viewing the new Ron Howard film, The Beatles: Eight Days A Week – The Touring Years. I was barely 13 when the Beatles first scraped into the UK charts, on December 15 1962, with ‘Love Me Do’ at no. 26. Alongside the Beatles… Continue reading I sat and watched as years went by.
I’ve belatedly come across Eric Clapton’s Facebook tribute to B.B. King where Eric says, “This music (blues) is almost a thing of the past now. There are not many left who play it in the pure way B.B. King did”. This is just so sad. Just to rub salt into the wounds, let me explain… Continue reading Hear the first blues vocal ever recorded.
Of all America’s creative gifts to the world, does any touch humanity more than the captivating music we call the blues? Rock & roll, rhythm & blues, rock, soul, funk, jazz, heavy metal, and pop music in general, are just some of the musical genres that have rolled out of the blues. For lovers of… Continue reading There are many ways of telling the untold history of the blues. This is mine.
Back in San Francisco last week for the first time in 20 years, we found ourselves, as you invariably do in San Francisco, amongst the throng at Pier 39. After checking that the city’s famous sea lions still hang out at K-dock, I heard the most unexpected sound – full tilt piano boogie woogie emanating from… Continue reading Gimme, Gimme, Gimme that Honky Tonk Woman
How George Bernard Shaw wrote the world’s first anti-rock music review. Let’s go all literary today and talk about the Nobel Prize-winning author and playwright, George Barnard Shaw. If you haven’t heard of him, George had enormous influence on Western culture, politics and theatre from the 1880s until his death, aged 94, in 1950. The… Continue reading The world’s first anti-rock review?