He was very popular in Memphis in the early twentieth century and some see him as the father of the Memphis blues guitar style. He made fame alongside Dan Sane with his band the Beale Street Sheiks, but also as a solo artist. His last recording dated from 1929. In “How Long” Frank Stokes show his enormous guitar talent en soulful vocals.
Memhis Ragtime Guitar Blues Song
Frank Stokes played mostly ragtime guitar blues with his deep forceful voice Frank knew how to reach people. You will recognise that in “How Long”. His perfect guitar melody gives this song a soft touch. On the other hand the lyrics are rhythmic and strong: I never never : baby I can’t see anymore, When you called me baby : how long how long,
Photo credit feature picture: By Tom Beetz [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Blues legend B.B. King has passed away at age 89
Today the news came out that Blues legend B.B. King has passed away at age of 89. With his Memphis Blues B.B. King inspired a generation of guitarist. With his guitar Lucille he made brilliant solos, his voice was always deep and soulful. The bluesman dies after decades-long battle with diabetes. Another legend is gone.
B.B. King recorded since ‘Singin’ The Blues’ in 1956 more than 45 albums. My favorite B.B. King songs are listed in this small ode to the bluesman who made the blues accesible for everyone. Who doesn’t know his hit “The Thrill Is Gone” for example. His soulful solo’s made a deep impression on me. Even at an older age he kept performing cause B.B. was always on the road in some years even more than 342 days a year. It shows how dedicated B.B. was he once recalled “I never use that word, retire”.
Growing up at a plantation
B.B. grew up as a poor kid. He told in one of his interviews; “ I was born on a plantation, and things weren’t so good. We didn’t have any money. I never thought of the word ‘poor’ ’til I got to be a man, but when you live in a house that you can always peek out of and see what kind of day it is, you’re not doing so well. And your rest room is not inside the house”. According to Wikipedia, B.B. King at the age of 12 purchased his first guitar for $15.00, although another source indicates he was given his first guitar by Bukka White, his mother’s first cousin. Bukka inspired B. B. and was his mentor during the first years of his career. In 1946, King followed Bukka White to Memphis, Tennessee.
During his long career B. B. King always stayed busy recording en performing. The complete collection contains numerous albums. My favorite albums are listed right below.
1. Singing The Blues Album 1956
‘ Singing the Blues’ is B.B. King’s debut album of on the crown label. It was released in 1956 and you might know ‘Upsets me Baby’ the best. It was the highest charting single reaching #1 on the black singles chart. “Woke Up This Morgning” is a big band song, rhythmic, boogie woogie and vocally very soulful. Besides the succesful release of his debut album, 1956 was also a record breaking year for the blues king with 342 concert bookings and three recording sessions.
2. Kingsize the twenty-fourth album
Another Album that’s worth listening is Kingsize released in 1977. A good grooving album that contains a combination of covers and own work. Especially the lyrics on this album always inspired me. Listen to songs like ‘It is Just a Matter of Time”, “Slow And Easy”, “Walking in the Sun” and “The Same Love That Made Me Laugh”. Also the cover of Preston Foster’s “Got My Mojo Working”, really feels nice. All though the Mojo Working song is covered by many musicians, B.B. knew how to bring a new dimension to the song.
3. Riding with the King with Eric Clapton
“Riding With The King” a collaboration with British Blues great Eric Clapton was released in 2000. It was their first collaborative album and won the 2000 Grammy Award for Best Traditional Blues Album. The main song ‘Riding with the King’ was a real hit, groovy, a bit raw but above all a very convincing song. Who would doubt that B.B. isn’t the King.
It is sad that another great legend has passed away. B.B. was one of the last mohicans of the old blues world, The last of the three Blues kings (Albert and Freddie are both dead). The Blues will always live.
As much as we all want to, we’d like to understand the blues, the myths and the unknown. About some artist we can tell a lot, others stay unknown. What all the musicians on this website have in common is talent and the blues. From Mississippi to Memphis to Chicago Woodrow Adams didn’t get the fame he deserved. He lived close to Howlin’ Wolf in the forties but his neighbour made national fame Woodrow didn’t. Nevertheless Woodrow Adams was a great bluesman.
Woodrow Adams blues Songs
His best songs are available to listen here. Listen to ‘Last Time’ and ‘Train Time’ in particular. Adams is a Delta and Memphis style Bluesman, comparable to Joe Hill Louis, which whom he played with. His perfect harmonica style is comparable to Slim Harpo and Little Walter.
Woodrow Adams is raw blues, the origins lie in the deep Mississippi Delta. Bluesmen like Son House where of the same type. Later on this style of music was popularized, but when Woodrow played that kind of thing he didn´t had a lot of national success. Nevertheless he was a well known figure in the local juke joints of Mississippi.
Woodrow Adams and Howlin´ Wolf
Woodrow Adams lived in Robinsville Mississippi during the forties, Howlin’ Wolf lived close by, the two jammed on the blues together, went probably to the juke joints and drank beer or moonshine . That is how I imagine it. Adams learned his harmonica and guitar style from Howlin’ Wolf. Later on they went to Memphis. Wolf made several recordings with Sam Phillips. Adams did too. The recording session of Adams and Phillips was released on Checker record. Unfortunately it didn’t had a lot of commercial success.
In 1955 Woodrow had more success, he recorded for the Bihari Brothers, who had a successful record label: Modern Records since 1945, since Hadda Brooks recorded “Swingin’ the Boogie. The Bihari brothers launched more labels and therefore the oldest brother Lester went to Memphis to lead Meteor Record. Adams recoded a single for the label and it sold a little here and there.
Woodrow Adams was named after the 28th president of the United States Woodrow Wilson.
During the forties and fifties Memphis developed into a city with one of the best music scenes around the world. The city where Rock ‘n Roll was born, soul and funk established worldwide sales, andBeale Street was the musical entertainment center of it all. The city was growing because the migration from Mississippi to Memphis developed and among the talented musicians that came along I recently came across Joe Hill Louis.
Joe Hill Louis on Beale Street
In Memphis Joe Hill would travel around the circuit of Beale Street clubs, performing in places as Haney’s Big House alongside other Memphis Blues musicians. Haney’s Big House was a wooden club owned by Big Will Haney and the only club that allowed white and black people. It was the place the best bluesman would go to.
Nickname: Be-Bop Boy
He had like many other bluesmen different nicknames my favourite is Be-Bop-Boy. Many musicians recall: Be-Bop Boy was an excellent performer together with Docter Ross he was the best one-man band in town. Imagine: Joe Hill Louis would sit behind his drum-kit, playing guitar switching over to harmonica and swing the boogie woogie while Big Will Haney’s club goes crazy.