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Blues Industry

ADOLPH RICKENBACKER

The name Rickenbacker was made famous during WWI by Eddie Rickenbacker, the Flying Ace who shot down 26 enemy planes, started his own car company and won races in some of his products, and then set up Eastern Airlines. However, a cousin of his, Adolph, was also making a big noise with products that still…

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J D ‘Jay’ MILLER

Jay Miller was one of the finest producers of Swamp Blues and Cajun music Louisiana has ever heard. His Fais-Do-Do label made some pioneeering Zydeco records and later, working with the Excello label, he recorded big hits and influential tracks for Swamp legends Lightnin’ Slim, Lazy Lester and Slim Harpo at his studio complex at…

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SYD NATHAN

Syd Nathan was an old-school, cigar-chomping, bad-tempered label owner who didn’t care much for the finer qualities of his artists, but put their records out anyway. His comment on James Brown’s first effort ‘Please, Please, Please’ was “That’s the worst piece of crap I’ve heard in my life.” but he persevered with several follow-ups that…

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HARRY PACE

Before Mamie Smith‘s groundbreaking ‘Crazy Blues’ in 1920, there was virtually no serious African American music on record. Mamie’s seminal disc proved there was a demand for ‘race music‘, and all the leading record companies jumped on the bandwagon. However, only one label on the scene was wholly black-owned: Black Swan, named in honour of…

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PETER GURALNICK

The Blues has changed enormously on its journey from its origins as a local ethnic folk form, to its current situation as the foundation of almost all popular Western music. With his wise analysis of the American scene in times of great change, Peter focussed attention on the music that gave disenfranchised people a vocabulary…

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LESTER MELROSE

Lester Melrose was undoubtedly the most important producer of urban Blues in Chicago from the mid-20s into the post-War years. He pioneered the use of a house-band to give a consistently high quality of accompaniment to his featured artists, and his skill as an A&R man uncovered a wealth of talent in the Windy City.…

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MIKE VERNON

As a producer and label owner, Mike Vernon has probably contributed more than anyone to the recording of early British Blues and presenting American original Blues players to the British public. By combining the keen young talent he found in London with the wealth of experience he brought from America, he created a heady mixture…

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MARTIN SCORSESE

“The Blues are the roots and everything else is the fruits” is a quote from Willie Dixon. Martin Scorsese is a man who I think would agree with that sentiment, and he made a big contribution to public understanding of the principle with his television series ‘The Blues’ some years ago. A native of New…

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WC HANDY

WC Handy was the ‘Father of the Blues’, at least that’s what it said in his autobiography. It is probably more true to say he was a talented composer who became a great collector and populariser of the Blues, who was also largely responsible for bringing this local folk music from the Mississippi Delta to…

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CLIFFORD ANTONE

Clifford Antone made a massive contribution to contemporary Blues, with his world-famous club in Austin, his record label of the same name, and his huge enthusiasm for Texas roadhouse Blues. When he was a kid, Clifford listened to a lot of Chicago Blues but he loved living in Texas, so the idea of bringing the…

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