Blues Music Birthdays: April 15 – April 21
This week’s blues birthdays feature musicians Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown, Tommy Shannon, Madelein Peyroux, Doug Macleod and “The Father of British Blues, “Alexis Korner!
Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown: 4/18/1924
Clarence Brown was born in Louisiana but was raised in Texas. He began his music career on drums in 1945 while living in San Antonio. Brown adopted the nickname “Gatemouth” from his high school teacher saying he had a “mouth like a gate.”
Gatemouth played a lot of small clubs and bars on guitar and whatever other instruments he decided to bring along. He got his “break” at a club in Houston in 1947 when T-Bone Walker got sick. Gatemouth wrote a blues tune right on the spot and entertained the audience, although he is tied to blues, don’t call him just a blues player!
Brown was known for “fighting purism” for the entire length of his career. He loved all genres and incorporated everything from country, blues to Cajun, jazz, and R&B into his sound. He recorded and released over 25 studio records, including one in 2004, one year before he died. Frank Zappa in 1989 cited Brown as one of his primary guitar influences.
Tommy Shannon: April 18, 1946
Tommy Shannon is an accomplished bassist who has been on the scene since around 1962. He started playing guitar at a young age living in Texas, but switched to the bass at 21, which would prove to be the smartest move he would ever make.
There was a music club in Dallas in the 60’s called The Fog. This would be an important spot for Shannon on two separate occasions. First came in the late 60’s when he met bluesman Johnny Winter and began touring with him for a few years, including on his set at the 1969 Woodstock Festival.
The second Fog meeting came when Shannon saw Stevie Ray Vaughan perform with his band at the time. In 1980, Shannon replaced the standing bass player in Vaughan’s new group, Double Trouble. This lineup would stay together until Vaughan passed away in 1990 and become “one of the most famous blues bands of all time.
Through his career, Shannon has played with some of the biggest names in blues besides Vaughan, like Doyle Bramhall II, Eric Johnson, Buddy Guy, and more!
Madeleine Peyroux: April 18, 1974
Photo credit: James Minchin
As a child, Madelein Peyroux and her family moved to various parts of the US. At age 13, Peyroux moved to Paris with her mom. It was her mom that helped her realize a passion for music. Living in an artistically rich area, this inspired Peyroux to play every where she could and at 16, she joined a jazz and blues band and toured all Europe with them.
She became interested in old style jazz and blues music and hit the scene hard. Her debut album Dreamland featured some of the most established jazz musicians of the day. The album gained Peyroux recognition as a formidable jazz vocalist and set her up for a successful career.
Alexis Korner: 4/19/28
With a love of American blues, this multi-instrumentalist began to perform the genre in mid-50s London and would even bring American artists to the UK. In 1961 he formed Blues Incorporated, which at times included many up and coming artists, such as Jack Bruce and Charlie Watts, and would perform for crowds that had the likes of Keith Richards, Rod Stewart and John Mayall in them. While he never achieved that fame of those he helped to inspire, Kroner continued to record and spread the wonder of the blues until his death. He is known as “The Father of British Blues.”
Doug Macleod: April 21, 1946
Doug Macleod started playing music, not just because he wanted to, but because he essentially needed to. The guitar is something he could turn to when he was feeling depressed and it also helped him “overcome a crippling stutter” as a child. The instrument very literally became his voice and has guided him through his entire life.
Macleod played with some big names in music like Big Joe Turner, Big Mama Thornton and many others.
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