The blues always sounded more like “the real thing” than anything else. It’s not like I automatically said, “This is cooler than this,” or “This has more emotion.” When I heard it, it slayed me! There was just not a question.
Rory Gallagher was the People’s Guitarist. Unassuming, but tenacious, the Irish blues man devoted his life to touring and playing his beloved Fender Strat to adoring audiences. He never stopped working, and could always command a crowd, but resolutely eschewed the trappings of superstardom.
The significant difference between B.B. King and his disciples is that he had long ago mastered the concept that less can be more when it comes to the number of notes in a solo. “If it’s done well with less, then use that,” he says. “
Aretha Franklin possessed one of the most distinctive and influential voices in the history of popular music.
In a 50-year recording career she racked up 20 Top 10 albums, a dozen million-selling singles and earned no fewer than 18 Grammy awards.
Otis Rush created a sophisticated, modern blues sound that has been imitated, but never duplicated. His lack of commercial appeal in no way deflects from the contributions of this very talented individual.
Freddie was a forceful presence and formidable figure in two of the most prominent blues scenes. In the state he was born in (and to which he eventually returned), he was known as the “Texas Cannonball.” Revered by his fans and respected by his peers, King was best-known for his searing, assertive solos and dynamic showmanship.
The original boogie man, John Lee Hooker sustained a career of more than 50 years with his incessant one-chord stomp and half-spoken vocal style. But behind the captivating, hypnotic rhythm Hooker found his own deep blues – one with dark tones and mysterious flurries of notes – as he groped to express, often with a wicked irony, his own feelings of pain and desire.
According to Eric Clapton, John Mayer, and the late Stevie Ray Vaughn, Buddy Guy is the greatest blues guitarist of all time. An enormous influence on these musicians as well as Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page, and Jeff Beck, he is the living embodiment of Chicago blues.
Though Hawkins’ songs didn’t top the charts, they’ve had an enormous influence on music. Every artist who has recorded creepy music in the past 50 years – or used wild and shocking props on stage – can thank Hawkins for doing it first. And his songs have made their way into the pop culture consciousness.
It’s impossible to guess what the blues might’ve sounded like, had there never been a Howlin’ Wolf – that mountain of a man, with a voice like a thunder-crack, a sulphur-throated force of nature whose bone-rattling voice screeching tales of betrayal, loneliness and death at fans whom he stared at bug-eyed and sweaty as he howled.