How Blues Evolved
An Illustrated History of
the genre that
gave us jazz, rock &
roll, pop and rock music
By Paul Merry
Did you know that last year, 2012, marked the 100th anniversary of the
first blues sheet music ever published? Unless you are a blues historian, you
probably didn’t, because this significant milestone passed by totally unreported
in the mainstream media, or it did in Britain, where this blog comes from.
Being a blues fan from way back, I have read and watched my fair share
of blues histories. But, really, don’t they just tell us what we already know? Many
even feed us wrong information, such as delta blues started with Charlie Patton,
which it didn’t, talented as Charlie was.
Unable to find a blues history that satisfied my curiosity, I decided a
few years ago to research and write a magazine article exploring the untold story
of this irresistible music. Its publication would coincide with last year’s blues
centenary. During my quest, I came across hundreds of brilliant books, academic
papers and websites which explained fragments of blues’ mysterious evolution,
often in great depth. But I found nothing that put the jigsaw pieces together
to present the complete picture.
When 2012 came around, I felt I had created a blues history that would finally
tell the untold story. But even after cutting the piece to shreds, it was still
over 5,000 words, which was way too long for publication. Yet, 5,000 words hardly
scratched the surface. There was no way blues’ interweaving and surprising
history could be condensed into one humble magazine article. So much
enthralling information would have to be cut out. Better to make use of all the
research I had collected and expand the story into a fully-blown e-book.
This had just been done when I realized how much more interesting the
book would be if I included photographs. This task, too, is almost finished and
my illustrated history of the blues will be available in June 2013 on Amazon’s Kindle, well in time for the 100th
anniversary of the first recorded blues, which took place in 1914.
The eBook is called How Blues
Chapter 1,
Remorse For A Bad Life, explains where the term ‘blues’ came from and the evolution
of the word ‘blues’ in print.
Chapter 2,
America’s First Slaves, sheds light on how the music of Muslim slave traders
influenced the African captives on their way to America.
Below are the names of the other chapters to give you an idea of the
content of How Blues Evolved.

Check out the YouTube link on Chapter 40 to hear the exquisite Lonnie Johnson playing blues guitar in 1939.
Chapter 3. The First
Public Portrayal Of Slave Music.
Chapter 4. The English
Comedian Who Sparked The Blues
Chapter 5. Early
Musical Improvisation
Chapter 6. America’s
First Pop Star
Chapter 7. America’s
First Syncopated Pop Song
Chapter 8. The First
Blues Watershed
Chapter 9. The Birth Of
Chapter 10. A Vulgar
Melody In A Remote Key
Chapter 11. America At
Chapter 12. The End Of
Chapter 14. Syncopation
And Ragged Time
Chapter 15. The First
Ragtime Song
Chapter 16. A
Nineteenth Century Hint Of The Blues To Come
Chapter 17. The Birth
Of Blues Guitar
Chapter 18. The Music
That Dare Not Speak Its Name
Chapter 19. The Second
Blues Water Shed
Chapter 20. Way Down
Yonder In New Orleans
Chapter 21. The
Bluesman Who Taught Charlie Patton
Chapter 22. Lead Belly
And The Birth Of Boogie Guitar
Chapter 23. From The
Mouth Of A Ventriloquist’s Dummy
Chapter 24. The Father
Of The Blues
Chapter 25. The First
Published Blues
Chapter 26. The First
Published Blues With Vocals
Chapter 27. The First
Recorded Blues
Chapter 28. The First
Recorded Blues With Vocals
Chapter 29. The First
African-American Recorded Blues
Chapter 30. Spread Yo’
Chapter 31. Girl Power
Chapter 32. A Blues
Diva Discovers The Blues Guitar
Chapter 33. Here Come
The Boys
Chapter 34. The First
Improvised Blues Solo
Chapter 35. The Peak
Before The Trough
Chapter 36. Depression
Chapter 37. The Guitar
Goes Electric
Chapter 38. The Birth
Of Electric Blues
Chapter 39. The
Original Chicago Blues
Chapter 40.The Legacy
Of Lonnie Johnson
Chapter 41.The Boy Can
Chapter 42. The Blues
Goes To War
Chapter 43.Wartime
Electric Blues
Chapter 44. The Blues
Gets Rhythm
Chapter 45.The Blues
Had A Baby.
leave me a message if you’d like to know exactly when the book is released.