Blues Music Birthdays: February 4th – 10th
This week’s blues birthdays feature musicians John Steel, King Curtis, Earl King, Floyd Dixon, and jazz guitar and electric violin pioneer Lonnie Johnson!
John Steel: February 4, 1941
English drummer for 1960’s psychedelic rock, R&B, and pop group The Animals. Steel has been the band’s drummer since their inception in 1963 and remains the only original band member playing in the group. The Animals are known for their gritty and bluesy sound and famous for songs such as “We Gotta Get Out of This Place”, “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood”, and the #1 hit single “House of the Rising Sun”.
Curtis Ousley AKA King Curtis: February 7, 1934
American saxophone virtuoso who performed in the genres of blues, jazz, soul, rhythm and blues, and rock &roll. He was also a bandleader, session musician and record producer. He most famously lent his solos and riffs to songs such as Aretha Franklin’s “Respect”, The Coasters “Yakety Yak”, and his own hit single “Memphis Soul Stew”.
Earl Johnson IV AKA Earl King: February 7, 1934
New Orleans Singer, songwriter, guitarist, and record producer whose career in the blues and rhythm & blues brought about such popular numbers as “I Hear You Knocking”, “Trick Bag”, and his celebrated, signature song “Come On” (also known as “Let the Good Times Roll”) which has since been covered by The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Dr. John, SRV and The Steve Miller Band.
Jay Riggins, Jr. AKA Floyd Dixon: February 8, 1929
R&B, West Coast and jump blues pianist and singer best known for his 1954 hit, “Hey Bartender” and for performing at blues and jazz festivals in Europe and the United States later in his life.
Alonzo Johnson AKA Lonnie Johnson: February 8, 1899
With a career that spanned nearly fifty years, this pioneer guitarist, as well as singer, songwriter, and electric violinist, revolutionized the role of the guitar in both the genres of jazz and the blues. His music marked the beginning of an unprecedented style of single-note soloing which used string bending and vibrato when he first began recording in 1925. He worked with a number of the greatest musicians of his time, performing with Duke Ellington, Bessie Smith, and Louis Armstrong. Django Reinhardt, T-Bone Walker, Bob Dylan, Elvis Presley, and even Robert Johnson drew inspiration from this genius of a guitarist.
Keeping the Blues Alive
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