Blues News

January 25 – 31st Birthdays

January 25 – 31st Birthdays

January 25 – 31st Birthdays. This week’s Birthdays includes Etta James, Eddie Van Halen, Elmore James, Bobby “Blue” Bland, Brian Keenan, James Jamerson, Samantha Fish. As well as Roosevelt Sykes and Charlie Musselwhite!

Etta James – 1/25/1938

Perhaps the greatest singer of the twentieth century she’s paramount in bridging the gap between 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 her near sixty-year career she released dozens of hit songs. Such as notable classics as “At Last”, “The Wallflower”, and “I’d Rather Go Blind” remaining some of her most beloved. For her immense talents and the importance of her work, Etta James most certainly earned herself the title of The Matriarch of R&B.

Eddie Van Halen – 1/26/1955

Musician, songwriter, and producer who co-founded the rock band Van Halen. Which he co-founded in 1972 with his brother, drummer Alex Van Halen, bassist Mark Stone, and singer David Lee Roth. He was also the main songwriter and guitarist of the band. Revolutionizing the way a guitar is played.  His otherworldly guitar skills not only made him an icon, but also an inspiration for the next generation of guitar players. 

Elmore James – 1/27/1918 

As the “King of the Slide Guitar”, this Mississippi-born blues musician is the most important slide guitarist of the post war era. 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”.

Bobby “Blue” Bland – 1/27/1930

Beloved singer who helped to pioneer the sub-genre of soul-blues after emerging from Memphis’ Beale Street in the late 40’s. 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”. 

Brian Keenan – 1/28/1943

An American musician, best known as the drummer for The Chambers Brothers (1965 to 1971). Prior to his work with The Chambers Brothers, Keenan plays drums in England with the group, Manfred Mann. He also had his own group, the Losers, which was the house band at Ondine, the first discotheque in New York City.

While with The Chambers Brothers, who predated Sly and the Family Stone as harbingers of psychedelic soul, Keenan wrote one of the band’s early songs, “Love Me Like the Rain,” which appears on the “Shout” album. Keenan leaves the group in 1971.

James Jamerson – 1/29/1936

Is an American bass player. He’ s the uncredited bassist on most of the Motown Records hits in the 1960s and early 1970s. Now he’s regarded as one of the most influential bass players in modern music history. He’s inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000. As a session musician he played on twenty-three Billboard Hot 100 number one hits, as well as fifty-six R&B number one hits. 

Samantha Fish – 1/30/1989

An American singer-songwriter and guitarist originally from Kansas City, Missouri. While often cited as a blues artist, Fish’s albums and live shows feature multiple genres, including rock, country, funk, bluegrass and ballads. In 2009, Fish records and produces “Live Bait.” The live album attracts the attention of a talent company, who recommends her to Ruf Records.

Furthermore, they put together a record with Fish and two other female blues artists, Cassie Taylor and Dani Wilde, titled Girls with Guitars. The three guitarists then tour on the Ruf Records 2011 Blues Caravan in the U.S. and Europe.

Fish releases her sixth solo album, “Kill or Be Kind”, on September 20, 2019, on her new label, Rounder Records. Shortly after, it’s chosen as a ‘Favorite Blues Album’ by AllMusic.

Roosevelt Sykes – 1/31/1906 

An influential boogie-woogie pianist, vocalist, and lyricist. Known for his upbeat, barrel-house blues style, humorously risqué songs, and iconic cigar-chomping image. He hits the road at the age of 15 and he begins to record at the tail end of the 20’s. Finally makes his classic debut with “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 50’s Sykes relocated to New Orleans where became a revered figure of the culturally rich “Crescent City” until his death in 1983.

Charlie Musselwhite – 1/31/1944 

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, he is crucial in proving that white musicians are capable of crafting worthwhile blues music.

He’s collaborated with Bonnie Raitt, Tom Waits, The Blind Boys of Alabama and Hot Tuna. In 2012, he and the acclaimed Ben Harper team up to record the album Get Up! It’s released the following year and awarded Best Blues Album at the 2014 Grammy’s.

That same year, at the 35th Blues Music Awards, he is awarded Best Instrumentalist-Harmonica and two additional awards for his work on the live album Remembering Little Walter. He has won a total of 30 Blues Music Awards.

That’s it for this week’s January 25th – 31st Birthdays! 

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 https://keepingthebluesalive.org/donate

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