Blues News

Blues Birthdays – July 13 to July 19

Robert Brown aka Washboard Sam: July 15, 1910 (Pictured above)

Washboard Sam was a very popular Chicago blues singer and, you guessed it, washboard player. He was also an adept songwriter, making over 150 recordings during the 30s and 40s, thus becoming one of the most popular Chicago blues performers of that era. Brown worked extensively with the likes of Big Bill Broonzy, Tampa Red, and Memphis Slim throughout his career, and in 1935 he began recording in his own right for both Bluebird and Vocalion Records. His strong voice and songwriting talent overcame his stylistic limitations.  

Ora Denise Allen AKA Denise LaSalle: 7/16/1939

This blues, soul and R&B singer-songwriter was best known for her hit singles, “Now Run And Tell That”, “Man Sized Job”, and her biggest release, “Trapped By A Thing Called Love”, which went on to sell a million copies in 1971.  Born to a family of sharecroppers in Sidon, Mississippi, LaSalle eventually made her way to the recording studio, even starting several record labels on her own. She was honored with a marker on the Mississippi Blues Trail in Belzoni, and was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame several years before her passing in 2018.

Screamin’ Jay Hawkins: July 18, 1929          

Screamin’ Jay Hawkins was an American singer-songwriter, musician, actor, film producer, and boxer. Famed chiefly for his powerful and operatic vocal delivery and wildly theatrical performances of songs such as “I Put a Spell on You,” he would sometimes used macabre props onstage, making him an early pioneer of “shock rock.”  Born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, Hawkins studied classical piano as a child and learned guitar in his 20s. His initial goal was to become an opera singer but when this ambition failed, he began his career as a conventional blues singer and pianist.  Hawkins’ most successful recording, “I Put a Spell on You” (1956), was selected as one of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 500 Songs that shaped rock and roll.

Brian May: July 19, 1947

Brian May is an English musician, singer, songwriter and astrophysicist. May was a co-founder of Queen with lead singer Freddie Mercury and drummer Roger Taylor, having previously performed with Taylor in the band Smile, which he had joined while he was at university. Within five years of their formation in 1970 and the recruitment of bass player John Deacon completing the lineup, Queen had become one of the biggest rock bands in the world with the success of the album A Night at the Opera and its single “Bohemian Rhapsody”. From the mid-1970s until the early 1990s, Queen was an almost constant presence in the UK charts and played some of the biggest venues in the world, most notably giving an acclaimed performance at Live Aid in 1985. As a member of Queen, May became regarded as a virtuoso and was identified with a distinctive sound created through his layered guitar work, often using a home-built electric guitar called the Red Special. Following the death of Mercury in 1991, Queen was put on hiatus for several years but was eventually reconvened by May and Taylor for further performances featuring guest vocalists. In 2001, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of Queen and in 2018 the band received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.


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