I love different styles of music but running through all of them is a heavy blues influence. Wether it be rock and roll, folk, rock, the blues has helped shape all these genres.
The most famous early bluesman was Robert Johnson. The Mississippi delta bluesman only recorded 29 songs during his short lifetime in hotel rooms in San Antonio and Dallas Texas. Apparently blues folklore states he sold his soul to the devil in return for his musical proweress! . His songs and playing are still revered to this day and though he died at the age of 27 his body of work is hugely impressive.
Moving on a few years and the blues was electrified by the likes of Muddy Waters, Elmore James and Howling Wolf. Muddy played slide guitar on a telecaster and barked out classics like Mannish boy.
We can’t talk about the blues without bowing down to the 3 kings! B.B, Freddie and Albert weren’t related but were giants in the world of blues guitar.
B.B played a sweet mellow style of blues. He made his gibson 335 which he called Lucille sing the sweetest notes and his vibrato was unique. His phrasing was effortless and he even created his own scale called the B.B box!
Freddie king was a huge man who was born to play the blues. Like many Texan bluesman he had a swing to his playing and effortlessly mixed major and minor scales to great effect. Check out ‘tore down’ .Freddie also wrote many instrumentals including ‘hideaway” which proved a big hit for him.
Albert king played a Flying V left handed but on a right handed guitar which he flipped upside down. This meant his strings were upside down allowing him to achieve huge bends which he did to great effect. Albert primarily used the blues scale but squeezed every bit of juice he could out of a few notes. His most famous hit was ‘born under a bad sign’ which has been covered by bands such as cream.
The masters of the guitar continued to be influenced by the blues. Jimi Hendrix , jimmy page, Stevie Ray Vaughn and Eric Clapton- the list goes on,they all have a strong blues connection to their playing.
The blues has been around for more than a hundred years. It’s a form of music very simple in structure and yet within this structure the music can be as simple or as complicated as you want to make it. Maybe that’s why us guitarists love it so much!