The blues began with African Americans in the Mississippi Delta, and moved up river to Kansas City and St. Louis, and spread to Chicago and beyond. Throughout the years, it’s been been played at bars, whorehouses, house rent parties, and at Woodstock and Newport. Interpreters have been black and white, country and city, acoustic and electric. And just when you think that the blues has gone out of style forever, a prevailing belief in the late seventies, an electric guitar genius like Stevie Ray Vaughan emerges from somewhere in Texas. Like others before him, his flame burned bright and brief, and then it was gone (in Stevie’s case, a plane crash).
Here he is jamming with Albert King, B.B. King, and Paul Butterfield. You can’t get any better than this.
John Lee Hooker took the blues from Clarksdale, Mississippi to Detroit, and then turned it into his own unique boogie woogie. In this video, he jams with guitar virtuoso Carlos Santana. His band was originally was a blues band until San Francisco concert impresario Bill Graham suggested Santana turn to his Latino musical roots.
Freddie King, also known as “the Texas Cannonball”, was one of the least known of the modern electric guitar geniuses until Leon Russell produced one of his last albums. Very few poured their heart into the blues like Freddie King. Just as he was beginning to get the recognition that he deserved, he died of a heart attack at age 42. Here he is in 1972 at peak performance in Sweden.
Concertgoers at the 1960 Newport Jazz Festival heard several of the masters of Chicago blues together in an unbeatable jam: Muddy Waters on guitar and vocals, James Cotton on harmonica, and Otis Spann on piano. The album version of the band’s performance, “At Newport 1960”, is considered by many music critics to be the definitive Muddy Waters recording.
Bessie Smith influenced every female blues singer who came after her, including Billie Holiday and Janis Joplin. Thank you, YouTube for this 1929 clip of her singing the “St. Louis Blues.” She started as a street musician in Chattanooga, joined Ma Rainey’s traveling blues revue, made a series of hit blues records for Columbia, faded from popularity, and died in a 1937 car accident as she was on the verge of a comeback.
Buddy Guy, B.B. King, Albert Collins, Eric Clapton, and Jeff Beck! Wow!
The Rolling Stones (Brian Jones and Mick Jagger circa 1965) introduce Howlin’ Wolf on British variety show, Shindig. Strange how apparent it is from this clip that Jones was the Stones’ front man, not Jagger.
I was actually there for this knockout 1970 Janis Joplinperformance in Toronto
Here’s a clip of Texas albino guitar virtuoso Johnny Winter at his peak, performing in 1969 at Woodstock. Unfortunately, he was cut out of the movie. In 1977 and 1980, he produced Muddy Waters’ last two albums.