Grant Green: 6/6/1935
Prolific jazz guitarist through the 1960’s and 70’s. He was included in the “Hard-bob” era which is a blend of R&B and soul into jazz music. Green was very influential on many guitarists and is still known as one of the best jazz guitarists of all time. He is also well-known for incorporating a lot of blues elements and licks in his playing. His phrasing, note choices, and chord style actually was more rooted in the blues genre than jazz. He recorded mostly for the notable jazz record label Blue Note Records and he was featured as a sideman on many albums by Blue Note as well. Another thing that set him apart from other guitarists of the era was that he emulated saxophone players more so than other guitarists. Grant Green passed away in 1979 due to a heart attack.
Derek Trucks: 6/8/1979
A Jacksonville, Florida native, this virtuoso slide guitarist and bandleader has spent the last two and a half decades professionally performing music. In 1996 he formed the Derek Trucks Band, which released its debut album the following year when he was just eighteen years old. In 1999, he was welcomed into the Allman Brothers Band where he played alongside his uncle and founding drummer, Butch Trucks, for fifteen years. He was awarded a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012 as a member of that iconic Southern and blues rock band. He has been married to Susan Tedeschi, a fellow blues rock musician, since 2001. The two combined each of their bands in 2010 to form the Tedeschi Trucks Band, whose debut album would take the 2012 Grammy Award for Best Blues Album. Trucks remains one of the most acclaimed guitarists of his time, and one of the most skilled slide guitarists as well.
Nehemiah Curtis James AKA Skip James: 6/9/1902
Early and tremendously influential Delta bluesman, singer-songwriter, pianist, and guitarist known for his skilled finger-picking technique and powerful lyrics. He began a recording career in 1931, producing songs that included the likes of “Hard Time Killing Floor Blues”, “Devil Got My Woman”, and “22-20 Blues”, but was unsuccessful due to the Great Depression, and he vanished. He was rediscovered in the early 60’s and became a sensation among the blues and folk revival scene and would perform until his death in 1969. His music has influenced a wide range of musicians over the years, including Robert Johnson, Eric Clapton, Alan Wilson, Gregg Allman, Beck, and Derek Trucks.
Lester “Les Paul” Polsfuss : 6/9/1915
One of the most recognizable and notorious names in music. Les Paul was originally a standout jazz and country guitar player known for accompanying his wife Mary Ford and selling mullions of records with her. His innovative playing style influenced many players of his and future generations.
Besides his amazing guitar playing skills, he also revolutionized the music industry when he helped design and build the Les Paul guitar. This solid body electric guitar is still one of the most popular models on the market and has been used over the years by countless notable musicians including Jimmy Page, Slash, Gary Moore, Duane Allman, and more. Without Les Paul’s many contributions, the music scene would look vastly different.
Chester Burnett AKA Howlin’ Wolf: 6/10/1910
You cannot have a complete list of inspiring and amazing blues musicians without including Howlin’ Wolf. Born Chester Burnett in 1910, he got the name from his grandfather who “warned him if he misbehaved, the howling wolves would get him. He learned how to play guitar from another great musician, Charlie Patton. He recorded many tunes that have become “blues and blues rock standards,” including “Back Door Man,” “Killing Floor,” and “Spoonful.” He is listed at number 51 on Rolling Stone’s 100 Great Artists of All Time list. Howlin’ Wolf passed away in 1976 at age 65, but he left behind an incredible legacy and continues to inspire every generation of guitar player.
Keeping the Blues Alive