Ray Charles: 9/23/1930
This masterful pianist, singer, and lyricist captivated the world for decades after emerging in the early 1950’s and helping to define soul music. Rightfully christened “The Genius”, he helped create soul by combining gospel, R&B, and the blues. He would also successfully delve into other genres including jazz, pop, rock & roll and even country music. With dozens of hit songs, some of his most cherished numbers include the passionate “What’d I Say,” the boogie-woogie rock and roller “Mess Around,” the spirited “I Got a Woman,” the swingin’ “Hallelujah I Love Her So”, the unbridled “Hit the Road Jack,” the soulful “I Can’t Stop Loving You,” and his iconic recording of “Georgia On My Mind.” Ray Charles had a profound influence on an untold number of artists, notably including Etta Fitzgerald, Steve Winwood, Otis Redding, Eric Clapton, Nora Jones, and John Mayer. The praises and honors heaped upon The Genius have been many, including 1986 Kennedy Center Honor, 17 performance Grammy Awards, a Grammy lifetime achievement award, as well as the National Medal of the Arts, presented by then-President Bill Clinton. Charles passed away on June 10, 2004, a certified musical legend. His music remains the stuff of genius.
Roy Buchanan: 9/23/1939
Roy Buchanan was an originator, pioneer, and overall immensely talented musician until the day he passed away. He is one of those musicians who never received the recognition and respect that he truly deserved. He had two albums early in his career that went Gold, Guitar Player recognized him as having one of the “50 Greatest Tones of All Time,” and he still didn’t really “achieve stardom.” He even was a major pioneer of “the Telecaster sound.” Because of all this, he is one of the most underrated blues guitarist of all times. I highly recommended listening to him and seeing why is is one of the best!
Duster Bennett: 9/23/1946
A British blues multi-instrumentalist who saw brief commercial success in the later 70’s. He was known for putting on entertaining shows as a one-man-band. He would hit a bass drum with his foot while playing the harmonica and guitar simultaneously. Besides his solo career, he joined the John Mayall’s famous band the Bluesbreakers in 1970. He was steadily becoming more and more popular in the scene until his tragic death in 1976.
Blind Lemon Jefferson: 9/24/1893
Today, some of the early blue musicians sometimes go forgotten and we concentrate on the modern musicians. But, it is important to note that without them, we wouldn’t have people like Joe Bonamassa or even Eric Clapton. Blind Lemon Jefferson is one of these musicians. He was an early blues/gospel singer and guitarist. He was considered to be one of the most popular and influential blues singers of the 20’s. Jefferson was even given the title of “Father of the Texas Blues.” So we can thank him for great talents like Stevie Ray Vaughan and ZZ Top!
Larry “Mud” Morganfield: 9/27/1954
Talented blues singer born in the blues-centered city of Chicago. He has made a successful career for himself, but is perhaps best known as the eldest son of the legendary bluesman Muddy Waters. Muddy was of course an integral part of the blues scene and why it has become so popular. Larry was primarily raised by his mom and other family members because his father was always performing and recording. As a result, he didn’t really get a chance to get close to his father. He never considered being a musician even though he grew up around a family of musicians and in a town where music was all around him. In fact, he didn’t decide to become a musician until Muddy Waters died in 1983. He states that he “started where my father left off.” He has been performing ever since and even won the ‘Traditional Blues Album’ award in 2015 for his tribute album for his father. [Photograph by Henry Knegt]