Whistlin’ Alex Moore was an eccentric Texas pianist whose career stretched from the early 20s into the late 80s. His archaic playing style incorporated elements of ragtime, barrelhouse and ‘stride’ patterns, and his talent for endless improvisation, spur-of-the-moment diversions and wild, Thelonius Monk-like spatterings of ‘blue-notes’ spoke of an inventive man whose main job was…

Read More

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…

Read More

Tommy Ridgley was a big noise in New Orleans in the early 50s when the music coming out of the Crescent City was making the whole world dance. The swinging vocals Tommy put over those driving sax and piano melodies and Big Beat rhythms caught the mood of the time. Many of his contemporaries went…

Read More

In the years after WWII, when Jump-blues and Boogie-woogie were transforming popular music, Hadda Brooks was a glamorous West-coast pianist who could thump out a boogie or croon a Blues ballad with the best of them. She went on to a career in film and TV, then staged a comeback in the 80s that earned…

Read More

Ray Charles was an important figure in 50s R&B as he fused Blues and Gospel into an early version of Soul Music. His piano style owed a lot to Jazz forms, and his Blues playing was full of emotion, but Ray’s wide-ranging taste included Country music. His skill as a composer and arranger, as well…

Read More

Best known for his work with The Rolling Stones, Nicky Hopkins’ Blues-soaked piano figures also featured on the work of The Jeff Beck Group, The Who, The Steve Miller Band, Jefferson Airplane, Quicksilver Messenger Service and a host of others. Nicky’s on-going health issues made it extremely difficult for him to commit to the punishing…

Read More

Ian ‘Stu’ Stewart is known as ‘the sixth Rolling Stone’, but in fact he was the first one to answer Brian Jones’s advert in the Melody Maker which was the genesis of the band. Stu played piano with Cyril Davies in Alexis Korner‘s Blues Incorporated, and he knew Brian from when the kid would hang…

Read More

Rosco Gordon was a Memphis pianist who developed an off-beat shuffle that gave his work a distinctive flavour. That sound went on to be very influential in Ska and Reggae music when Rosco’s records made it to Jamaica. As one of the Beale Streeters, Rosco played with the Blues élite and he had some very…

Read More

Johnnie Johnson’s driving, boogie piano was a key factor in the success of Chuck Berry’s music, and the title ‘Johnny B. Goode’ is said to be a reference to Johnnie’s rumbunctious behaviour when he was drinking. Credited with getting Chuck started and then sticking with him for twenty years, Johnnie had a late-blooming solo career…

Read More

Piano C Red was born in the South in 1933, and had been playing piano in Atlanta bars for ten years when he moved to Chicago in the mid-50s. He recorded briefly for Chess records in 1963, but his main work came as a backing musician for the big names of the day, working with…

Read More