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Gordon's Blues Guides, Volume Three: Blues-Rock

Gordon's Blues Guides, Volume Three: Blues-Rock

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Gordon's Blues Guides, Volume Three: Blues-Rock

184 pagine
3 ore
Nov 22, 2015


Blues-Rock (1960s-2010s) is the third volume of Gordon's Blues Guide's, a concise and informative primer on this popular sub-genre of the blues, from its formation in the early 1960s through the present day. The guide provides a brief history of early blues-rock bands along with a list of key artists with biographies and recommended recordings as compiled by the Rev. Keith A. Gordon, former Blues Expert.

Nov 22, 2015

Informazioni sull'autore

The "Reverend of Rock 'n' Roll," Rev. Keith A. Gordon has almost 50 years in the pop culture trenches. Gordon's work has appeared in over 100 publications worldwide, as well as in several All Music Guide books and on the AMG website, as well as Blurt magazine and the Rock and Roll Globe. Rev. Gordon is the author of nearly two-dozen music-related books including The Other Side of Nashville, a history of the city's rock 'n' roll underground; Blues Deluxe: A Joe Bonamassa Buying Guide; and The Rock 'n' Roll Archives series.

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Gordon's Blues Guides, Volume Three - Rev. Keith A. Gordon


I. The Blues Had A Baby & They Called It Rock ‘n’ Roll

What is blues-rock? Simply put, it’s blues music as interpreted by rock ‘n’ roll musicians. But nothing’s ever really that simple, is it? The old adage says that the blues had a baby and they called it rock ‘n’ roll…which perfectly sums up the influence that blues music of the 1950s had on the first generation of rockers.

Blues-rock music developed somewhat independently in both the United States and in Great Britain, but both schools – separated by an ocean – drew their inspiration from the same slate of blues music. Although Elvis Presley and other 1950s-era rockers would dip into the blues and R&B songbook for material from time to time, blues-rock as a stand-alone genre really didn’t begin its gradual evolution until the mid-1960s.

In Great Britain, musicians like Alexis Korner, Cyril Davies, and Chris Barber found inspiration in the records they heard from America that featured blues legends-in-the-making like Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Little Walter, and others. Whereas Korner and Barber had backgrounds in jazz music, and Davies led a skiffle band, all three would help popularize blues music on the island. Barber promoted U.K. tours by Waters, Big Bill Broonzy, and Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee, among others while Korner and Davies opened the London Blues and Barrelhouse Club, booking artists like Waters and Memphis Slim.

Korner formed Blues Incorporated with Davies in 1961, the band serving as a sort of ground zero for British blues, the band’s loose-knit roster including talents like Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker (later of Cream), Charlie Watts (The Rolling Stones), Long John Baldry, and Graham Bond. Blues Incorporated gigs attracted a crowd of younger musicians, and some fans like Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, and Brian Jones (later of the Rolling Stones), Rod Stewart, John Mayall, Jimmy Page, and others would often sit in with the band. Davies left Blues Incorporated in 1962 to form Cyril Davies All-Stars with Long John Baldry, and John Mayall would be inspired to form Bluesbreakers, recruiting a young guitarist from the Yardbirds, Eric Clapton.

In the United States, the early blues-rock bands earned their stripes firsthand, learning at the feet of the masters. Harp wizard Paul Butterfield, and guitarists Michael Bloomfield and Elvin Bishop formed the core of the multi-racial Paul Butterfield Blues Band, all three of them honing their chops playing Chicago blues clubs with artists like Waters, Little Walter, Otis Rush, and Buddy Guy. In turn, the Paul Butterfield Blues Band’s self-titled 1965 debut album served as a spotlight for other white musicians to follow, and the late 1960s American blues-rock scene would produce bands like Canned Heat and the Allman Brothers Band.

In Great Britain, the classic John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers with Eric Clapton album launched a veritable British blues-rock boom…Clapton left Mayall’s employ to form Cream with Bruce and Baker, that band’s enormous success spawning a successful and influential blues-rock scene. Skid Row (with young hot-shot guitarist Gary Moore), the Jeff Beck Band (with vocalist Rod Stewart), Savoy Brown, Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac, Taste (with fretburner Rory Gallagher), Paul Rodgers and Free, and Ten Years After, among others, followed in Cream’s wake, while early ‘60s British blues-rock outfit the Yardbirds would evolve into Led Zeppelin.

Although blues-rock in the states didn’t enjoy the same evolutionary arc as in the U.K. it definitely went its own unique direction. Jimi Hendrix would prove to be as big an influence on blues-rock guitarists as Delta legend Robert Johnson ever was, paving the way for artists like Johnny Winter and Duane Allman to further incorporate rock ‘n’ roll into blues music during the 1970s, while Stevie Ray Vaughan would influence an entirely new generation of young blues-rock talent in the ‘80s.

Today, blues-rock has arguably become the dominant form of the blues for many festival-goers and record buyers. Although fans love Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Koko Taylor, and other Chicago bluesmen (and women), it’s blues-rock guitarists like Walter Trout and Joe Bonamassa, as well as adventuresome musicians like Derek Trucks and Anders Osborne, that are bringing the blues to a new legion of fans.

II. Blues-Rock: Key Artists


Born: April 19, 1928 in Paris, France

Died: January 1, 1984 in London, England

Known as the Father of British Blues, musician and bandleader Alexis Korner was an integral part of England’s early 1960s blues scene. Korner’s Blues, Incorporated band helped popularize blues music, and during the early part of the decade, Korner performed with a long list of British music royalty. Korner never experienced the overwhelming commercial success enjoyed by some of his peers and younger acolytes, but his influence on the development of blues-rock is undeniable.

Korner fell in love with the blues as a child, his family immigrating to England in 1940 during the war. Korner learned to play the piano and, later, the guitar, joining Chris Barber’s Jazz Band in 1949. During this time he met Cyril Davies, a guitarist and fellow blues fan, and the two began performing as a duo. The pair recorded their first record in 1957, and in 1962 they formed the band Blues, Incorporated.

Blues, Incorporated featured a revolving line-up that included some of the best musicians in England at the time, future stars like bassist Jack Bruce and drummer Charlie Watts. Their club shows attracted blues enthusiasts from across the country, and talents like Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Brian Jones, and Steve Marriott, among others, would sit in with the band. Blues, Incorporated recorded a single album, R&B From The Marquee, after which Davies quit over Korner’s decision to add horns to the band.

Through the 1960s, Korner carried on with various line-ups, but he soon saw his old-school style of the blues eclipsed by the commercially-successful blues-rock formula of the Rolling Stones, the Yardbirds, and others that were influenced by Korner’s Blues, Incorporated, which broke-up in 1966.

Korner continued to play and record music throughout the 1970s and into the ‘80s, scoring a minor hit with a cover of Led Zeppelin’s Whole Lotta Love in 1970 with his studio ensemble C.C.S. Korner also dabbled in music journalism and radio broadcasting at this time. Forming Rocket 88 with Jack Bruce and Charlie Watts, Korner’s last band released a self-titled album in 1981. Korner died of lung cancer in 1984.

Recommended Albums: Korner’s early stuff, especially Blues, Incorporated material, is hard to come by. The excellent anthology Musically Rich…and Famous provides an overview of Korner’s career from 1967-1982 and includes a wealth of famous guest stars while 1972’s Bootleg Him! is probably the artist’s best solo compilation.


Formed: 1969 in Jacksonville, Florida

With deep-rooted Southern music influences, the Allman Brothers Band successfully blended blues and hard rock with elements of soul, R&B, country, and even jazz. Led by guitarist Duane Allman, the band’s dynamic on-stage performance style would often spin a song off into an extended 20-or-30-minute jam while their devil-may-care proclivity for fusing genres would prove to be influential beyond the band’s commercial success. Blame them for the jam band movement of the 1990s if you must, but the ABB also helped bring us the blues-rock explosion of the 1980s as well!

Brothers Duane and Gregg Allman played together in several bands during the early-to-mid-1960s, including the Escorts, the Allman Joys, and the Hour Glass, which was based in Los Angeles and recorded two unremarkable albums for Liberty Records in 1967 and 1968. The label released all the band members save for Gregg from their contracts, thinking that they could still make some money off the soulful vocalist and keyboardist.

Duane Allman returned to the South, becoming an in-demand session player at Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, lending his talents to artists like Wilson Pickett, Aretha Franklin, and King Curtis, among many others. Spurred on by his manager, Phil Walden, Duane began jamming in Jacksonville, Florida clubs with guitarist Dickey Betts, bassist Berry Oakley, and drummer Butch Trucks. Sensing that they had something special, Duane called brother Gregg back from L.A. to sing and play keyboards with the new band, and they added a second drummer and percussionist in Jaimoe Johanson.

After playing around the Jacksonville area for a few months in early 1969, the still-unnamed band signed with Phil Walden’s fledgling Capricorn Records label and moved its base of operations to sleepy Macon, Georgia where the label was based. Honing their muscular blues-rock sound to a dangerous edge by performing constantly in the rough ‘n’ tumble clubs of Florida and Georgia, the band recorded its self-titled debut album in New York City in August 1969. Released later in the year, the album won widespread critical acclaim although it experienced only mediocre sales at the time.

For their sophomore album, the Allman Brothers Band was paired with producer Tom Dowd, who had worked with Cream. Recording at the Capricorn Studios in Macon, the studio collaboration resulted in the Idlewild South album. Widely considered to be the band’s best studio work, it showed a further maturation of the band’s complex instrumental sound and represented the first songwriting efforts of guitarist Dickey Betts, whose In Memory of Elizabeth Reed would become a staple of the ABB’s live set for decades. Gregg Allman’s Midnight Rider would also become a fan favorite.

The band’s commercial breakthrough would come with the double live set At Fillmore East. Recorded over a two-night stand at New York’s legendary Fillmore East club in March 1971, the Dowd-produced album spotlighted the band’s instrumental prowess at, or near its peak of creativity. Duane’s incendiary slide-guitar howled and Gregg’s soul-drenched vocals were supported by the band’s musical buzz-saw. The album would vault the band to stardom, rising to #13 on the Billboard Top 200 chart.

As the band was enjoying the perks of its success, recording had begun on their third studio album, Eat A Peach, when tragedy struck. Guitarist Duane Allman, the band’s founder and driving musical force, would die in a motorcycle accident on October 29, 1971. The band finished up the double-album Eat A Peach as a five-piece without Duane, the second disc consisting of live tracks to compliment the studio tracks recorded both with and without Allman. The album was a huge success, rising to #5 on the Billboard albums chart and selling in excess of a million copies.

After Allman’s death, the Allman Brothers Band added keyboardist Chuck Leavell, while Betts picked up the slack on guitar. The band lost another member in November 1972 when bassist Berry Oakley died from injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident just blocks from the site of Allman’s fatal encounter. The band replaced Oakley with Lamar Williams for the completion of 1973’s Brothers and Sisters, although the bassist appeared on three previously-recorded tracks. It became the band’s first #1 charting album, selling over a million copies and yielding two hit singles in Jessica and Ramblin’ Man.

By the mid-1970s, personality conflicts and personal problems began to impact the band. Gregg Allman married singer/actress Cher, their brief union characterized by emotional turmoil before ending in divorce. Both Allman and Betts launched solo careers, and drug abuse took its

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