Blues Music Birthdays: January 21st – 27th
This week’s blues birthdays feature musicians Elmore James, Beth Hart, Bobby “Blue” Bland, and The Matriarch of R&B Etta James!
One of the original members of the sketch comedy show Saturday Night Live, Belushi helped to create the cultural phenomenon that is The Blues Brothers. What started out as a SNL comedy skit quickly expanded into a full-fledged blues, soul, and rhythm & blues revivalist band backed with such musicians as Matt Murphy, Steve Cropper, and Alan Rubin. With Belushi on lead vocals, The Blues Brothers’ debut album, Briefcase Full of Blues, would go on to sell over two million copies.
Beth Hart: January 24, 1972
Grammy-nominated blues rock and soul singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist who is known for her powerful voice and hit song “LA Song (Out of This Town)”. She has performed with Jeff Beck, Gov’t Mule, Slash, Vintage Trouble, and released three albums with Blues-Rock Titan Joe Bonamassa. Hart and Bonamassa’s albums Seesaw and Live in Amsterdam debuted at the number 1 spot on the Billboard Blues Chart and their first collaborative album Don’t Explain earned the duo a Grammy nomination, went Gold in the Netherlands, and earned Hart her first Blues Music Award nomination.
Jamesetta Hawkins AKA Etta James: January 25, 1939
Perhaps the greatest singer of the twentieth century, Ms. James was paramount in bridging the gap between rhythm & blues and rock & roll. With her unforgettable and powerful voice, she not only conquered R&B and rock, but the genres of the blues, gospel, soul, and jazz as well. Over the course of a nearly sixty-year career, she released dozens of hit songs, with such notable classics as “At Last”, “The Wallflower”, and “I’d Rather Go Blind” remaining some of her most beloved. Her unquestionably influential musical presence has left a lifelong impression upon many a singer, including Bonnie Raitt, Diana Ross, Janis Joplin, Shemekia Copeland, Beth Hart, Christina Aguilera, and even The Rolling Stones. For her immense talents and the importance of her work, Etta James most certainly earned herself the title of The Matriarch of R&B.
Elmore Brooks AKA Elmore James: January 27. 1918
Known as the “King of the Slide Guitar”, this Mississippi-born blues musician is considered to be the most important slide guitarist of the post-war era. He is remembered for his distinguishable voice and early use of distortion with amplifiers he crafted, but above all for his cover of Robert Johnson’s “Dust My Broom”. The trademark of his career, James revered rendition of that song contains what is possibly the most famous riff in the history of the blues. He is also responsible for such classics as “The Sky Is Crying”, “Shake Your Moneymaker”, and “Bleeding Heart”. The work of Elmore James greatly impacted such musicians as Hound Dog Taylor, Eric Clapton, Brian Jones, Jimi Hendrix, Duane Allman, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Warren Haynes, and Derek Trucks.
Robert Brooks AKA Bobby “Blue” Bland: January 27, 1930
Beloved singer who helped to pioneer the sub-genre of soul-blues after emerging from Memphis’ Beale Street in the late ’40s. With his powerful, growling vocals, he earned himself the moniker of the “Lion of the Blues”. With over two dozen Top Ten R&B hits, some of his best-known recordings include “Farther Up the Road”, “I’ll Take Care of You”, “I Pity the Fool”, and “Ain’t No Love in the Heart of the City”. Bobby “Blue” Bland has been inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame as well as the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and was honored with a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1997.
Keeping the Blues Alive
Help us with our mission of Keeping the Blues Alive in schools! To learn more or donate to Keeping The Blues Alive, visit our website at http://keepingthebluesalive.org/