This week’s Blues birthdays features Willie Dixon, James Cotton, Mississippi John Hurt, Blind Owl and the Father Of Rock ‘n’ Roll, Bill Haley! Be sure to check back next week for more blues birthdays!
William “Willie” Dixon: 7/1/1915
Perhaps the most important songwriter of blues music in his day. He had a hand in hundreds of songs over the course of his career. He was a major influence in shaping Chicago blues by penning songs for the likes of Buddy Guy, Otis Rush, Little Walter, and most importantly, some of the biggest songs in the arsenals of both Howlin’ Wolf and Muddy Waters. Dixon was also an accomplished singer, bandleader, record producer and bassist, and was featured on many of the recordings of the songs he wrote on bass. He influences also crossed over into rock and roll as bands such as The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, and Cream
James Cotton: 7/1/1935
Renowned harmonica player and singer-songwriter who made a name for himself as Muddy Waters’ harpist for twelve years. In 1966 he began a solo career during which he picked up the title of “Superharp” for his intense harmonica playing.
John Hurt AKA Mississippi John Hurt: 7/3/1893
Country blues musician who found little success during his first recording sessions of the 1920’s, but upon his rediscovery some thirty-five years later, he became a sensation of the American folk music revival. With his self-taught fingerpicking style and warm voice still intact, he enjoyed a number of years recording and touring before passing away in 1966.
Alan Wilson AKA Blind Owl: 7/4/1943
Guitarist, harpist, singer, and songwriter who co-founded the blues and boogie rock group Canned Heat. An early blues aficionado, he had the opportunity to reteach Delta bluesman Son House “how to play like Son House.” After the elder musician was rediscovered in 1964, after two decades away from music. He once again worked with another legendary influence of his when Canned Heat recorded an album with John Lee Hooker. Hooker found Wilson to be one of the best harmonica players he had ever seen.
Bill Haley: 7/6/1925
Bill Haley transformed popular music. As a front man for the iconic group Bill Haley & His Comets, Haley became a bona fide music superstar in the 1950s after releasing chart-topping hits including “(We’re Gonna) Rock Around the Clock,” “Shake, Rattle and Roll,” “See You Later, Alligator,” and many others. Garnering seven Top 20 singles in the USA alone, Haley’s appeal was universal; he amassed legions of fans and sold millions of records in markets around the world. “We premiered it,” Haley told Rolling Stone in 1967. “We put country & western together with rhythm & blues, and that was rock. The first three years were ours, all ours, till Presley came along.”
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