Wynonie’s Blues-belting, hip-swivelling, suggestive stage act in the late 40s made him a role model for many Rockers who followed him. He scored big hits with ‘Good Rockin’ Tonight’, ‘Lollipop Mama’, and ‘All She Wants to Do is Rock’ all making the top of the R&B charts, but he could not ride the wave of…

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Charles Brown is another Texan who made it on the West Coast, this silky voiced pianist with The Three Blazers took ‘Drifting Blues’ to the top of the R&B charts in 1946. Going solo two years later, he had a series of Number 1 hits, with ‘Trouble Blues’ and ‘Black Night’ both staying at the…

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Jimmy knew how to play a slow piano Blues, how to pound out a jumpin’ Boogie, a driving R&B tune and how to bring it down behind a smouldering Soul number. He could write in all these styles and he was very smart at  changing with the times too. Jimmy was a founding father of…

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Downhome Mississippi Blues guitarist Smokey relocated to LA in his mid-thirties and opened the Pioneer Club in Watts, where he fronted the house band and booked the hottest Blues acts around. Smokey was born in the Mississippi Delta where he played with Big Jack Johnson and Frank Frost before taking his juke-joint boogie style Westwards.…

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Joe Liggins took his record ‘The Honeydripper’ to the top of the R&B charts for a record 18 weeks in 1945, and when he named his band The Honeydrippers he kept them among the best sellers for ten years. Their infectious jump-Blues was fuelled by the optimistic post-WWII atmosphere of the day, where everybody seemed…

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Everything about Willie Mae ‘Big Mama’ Thornton was Big. She was a big woman with a big voice, a big harmonica sound, a big stage presence and a big hit record. Her version of Leiber and Stoller’s ‘Hound Dog’ sat on top of the R&B chart for seven weeks in 1953, but that achievement was…

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T-Bone Walker has a good claim to be the first guitar hero. He put out the first electric Blues record and his eloquent phrasing and masterful command of this new instrument made him the prototype for millions that followed, even if they had never heard of him! He was a powerful singer and entertainer too:…

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Few people have contributed more to R&B than Johnny Otis. All round musician, bandleader, DJ, promoter, talent scout, song-writer, label owner and producer, he found time to become a TV host, preacher, politician, author and organic farmer. He also crossed the colour-line at a time when that was very rare. The ambitious Greek teenager from…

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