Blues Music Birthdays: January 28th – February 3rd
This week’s blues birthdays features musicians Roosevelt Sykes, Sonny Landreth, Johnny “Guitar” Watson, Adolfo “Fito” de la Parra, and electric blues harmonica player Charlie Musselwhite!
Roosevelt Sykes: January 31, 1906
Influential boogie-woogie pianist and singer who was known for his upbeat, barrelhouse blues style, humorously risqué songs, and iconic cigar-chomping image. He would hit the road at the age of 15 and he began to record at the tail end of the ’20s, with his classic debut, “44 Blues”, dropping in 1929. His travels took him to such bustling blues hubs as St. Louis, New York City, and Chicago, the latter of which he spent quite some time. In the mid-’50s Sykes relocated to New Orleans where became a revered figure of the culturally rich “Crescent City” until his death in 1983. In addition to his renowned debut, Roosevelt Sykes, also known “The Honeydripper”, was responsible for the standards “Driving Wheel Blues” and “Night Time Is the Right Time”.
Charlie Musselwhite: January 31, 1944
Award-winning musician, bandleader, and esteemed harmonica player who has remained in the pantheon of blues champions ever since his legendary debut album Stand Back! Here Comes Charley Musselwhite’s Southside Band. Along with Paul Butterfield (a fellow harpist and bandleader), he was crucial in proving that white musicians were capable of crafting authentic and truly worthwhile blues music. His skills as an electric blues harmonica player have been utilized by Bonnie Raitt, Tom Waits, The Blind Boys of Alabama, and collaborated with Ben Harper on Get Up!, the album won a Grammy Award for Best Blues Album in 2014.
Sonny Landreth: February 1, 1951
Nicknamed “The King of Slydeco”, this Louisiana bluesman is known for his exceptional abilities as a slide guitarist as well as the impact that zydeco (a blend of Cajun music, blues, and R&B) has had on his music. Landreth got his start in the early ’70s performing with Clifton Chenier’s Red Hot Louisiana Band before he began to record his own music in 1981. He has since worked with John Mayall, Eric Johnson, John Hiatt, Jimmy Buffet, Johnny Winter, and has performed at Eric Clapton’s Crossroad Guitar Festival numerous times.
Johnny “Guitar” Watson: February 3, 1935
Known for his mastery of the guitar and flamboyant showmanship, this Texas musician enjoyed a great deal of success in the blues during the early 50’s and mid 60’s. When the popularity of blues music began to decline, he reinvented himself as a funk and soul musician and enjoyed even more success than before. With the songs “Space Guitar” and “Gangster of Love” he was a major influence on many artists, such as Etta James, Jimi Hendrix, both Stevie Ray and Jimmie Vaughan, Frank Zappa, and Guitar Slim.
Adolfo “Fito” de la Parra: 2/3/46
Mexican drummer who is best known as the longtime drummer of the blues-rock group Canned Heat. Over the years he has worked with a number of blues music’s finest, including T-Bone Walker, Etta James, John Lee Hooker, Memphis Slim, and Albert Collins.
Keeping the Blues Alive
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