W.C. Handy and Jelly Roll Morton clash on paper as Joe Louis puts Nazis’ champ on canvas. The following is an excerpt from America’s Gift, my book featuring over 200 years of blues history. In March 1938, the famous African-American composer, publisher and blues pioneer, W. C. Handy, was introduced on Robert Ripley’s national U.S.… Continue reading 1938’s HEAVYWEIGHT BLUES CLASH.
REMEMBERING LESTER MELROSE: 1891 – 1968. THE FIRST FATHER OF CHICAGO BLUES. Move over Sam Phillips. Not only is Chicago’s Lester Melrose a serious contender for the title ‘Father of Rock ‘n’ Roll’ but he’s the only one I’ve heard of who links the birth of blues in the 19th century with the true birth of rock &… Continue reading ROCK ‘N’ ROLL’S FORGOTTEN FATHER.
AMERICA’S GIFT: THE UNTOLD STORY OF HOW BLUES EVOLVED. EXCERPT FROM CHAPTER TWO. The genesis of the blues as a style of music began with one of the biggest crimes against humanity, the evil that is slavery. The African slave trade, in particular, had been operating for thousands of years, with black slaves a common… Continue reading WHEN PIRATES SHIPPED IN AMERICA’S FIRST SLAVES.
AMERICA’S GIFT: THE UNTOLD STORY OF HOW BLUES EVOLVED – CHAPTER ONE. Long before the blues became a genre of American music, it was an expression used to describe an English frame of mind. The word blues almost certainly derives from what people, many centuries ago, called ‘the blue devils’ – those imaginary evil… Continue reading FIRST EVER MENTIONS OF THE BLUES
Is former Rage Against the Machine Guitarist, Tom Morello, today’s version of Jimi Hendrix? You’ll have to listen to Tom’s new album, ‘The Atlas Underground’, released tomorrow (October 12), to find out. It’s an ambitious statement regarding an ambitious solo album, but that’s what Morello’s aiming for – to be classified as “the Hendrix of… Continue reading TOM MORELLO. TOMORROW’S JIMI HENDRIX?
It’s indisputable, I’d guess, that most top lead guitarists are people who are good with their hands, whose fingers exude dexterity. They excel at fixing and making things, DIY, working with wood, constructing models, tinkering with car engines, that sort of thing. That was never me. As a kid in the 1950s, when model airplanes… Continue reading Realising I’d never be a top guitarist.
How ironic is it that white kids living in England in the mid-1960s were more exposed to black American blues than your average white teenager in the United States? Without knowing it, in 1950s England, I’d heard the blues of Lead Belly, Leroy Carr and Little Son Joe, on national TV and radio, through the… Continue reading The day I discovered the blues.
Black guitar owners – rare as gelding balls before 1890s. If you read my last post, you’ll know I featured Henry Sloan, the African-American farmer in Mississippi who taught Charlie Patton how to play early Delta Blues guitar around the turn of the 20th century. But where did Henry Sloan Henry – born in 1870, just… Continue reading When blues guitarists were counted on one hand.
“Always fun reading, Paul. Thanks.” Jason Vivone (@JVivone), leader of the Billy Bats, Kansas City. In this short series, I’m going to highlight four extremely influential, but mainly unknown nineteenth-century blues guitar pioneers, each of whom features in my blues history book, America’s Gift, at http://goo.gl/At5AZe These were the guys who did the spade-work for… Continue reading Blues guitarists before 1900 – the man who taught Charlie Patton
North East Texas. 1899. A tender-aged ‘songster’, as roaming black minstrels were known back then, had travelled from his home in Louisiana around 1899 to busk in neighbouring Texas. Whether the boy was 10, 11 or 14 depends on which birth date you believe – 1885, 1888 or 1889. All are given in his various biographies,… Continue reading Did boogie guitar start with a 14-year-old?