One of the earliest figures in electric blues came not from Mississippi but from Texas and moved not to Chicago, but to Los Angeles. T-Bone Walker incorporated elements of jazz into his electric blues in the mid-1930s. Later he did move to Chicago, where Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Jimmy Reed, and bassist/songwriter extraordinaire Willie Dixon all found voltage and fame.
The sound of electric blues spread to Britain via the same Muddy Waters, in what was surely one of the most significant tours in popular music history. His 1958 concerts initially amazed but soon delighted UK audiences and influenced an entire generation of musicians via Blues Incorporated and the ever-changing bands of John Mayall. These outfits gave early experience to Ginger Baker and Jack Bruce (Cream), Mick Taylor (Rolling Stones), Mick Fleetwood and John McVie (Fleetwood Mac), Eric Clapton, and many others.
The seventies saw blues-rock dominate the world via British behemoths Led Zeppelin, Status Quo and the Southern rock of the Allman Brothers. Other major artists to emerge included Stevie Ray Vaughan, Robert Cray and the perennial Bonnie Raitt. But it ain’t all grey beards and senior citizens. Joe Bonamassa is keeping the blues-rock flame well and truly alight today. Let’s boogie.