Sep
30

A Blues Historical Timeline

By Jason  //  Blues, blues history, Delta Blues  //  10 Comments

Blues History

Blues History

Important Dates in the Blues

Often times I have people asking me about certain dates when it comes to the blues.  So I decided, after reading a book about Blues that contained a very intricate blues timeline, that I would share a basic blues timeline on this site for those that were unaware.

This particular timeline was first posted at Mojo Hand, an online Blues store.  I decided to re-post it for all those blues fans out there.

It may not have all the dates here, but it is definitely a great place to start.  Moving forward, I invite readers to comment on this post, and request dates be added.  I will add them as fast as I can…

Blues Timeline

March
1903
W.C. Handy sees a “ragged loose-jointed black” playing the guitar in a Tutwiler, Mississippi railroad station. The unknown guitarist used a knife as a slide to play the guitar. Handy remarked “The event was unforgettable. His song, too, struck me instantly. Goin’ where the Southern cross the Dog.
March
1912
The first appearance of the word ‘blues’ in a piece of music: “The Dallas Blues” by Hart Wand. The story goes that a black porter overheard Hart playing his violin and the porter remarked “That give me the blues to go back to Dallas.”
1920 Mamie Smith records “Crazy Blues”, the first of the Race Records. Race Records, was the term used by recording companies at the time for recordings of black artists with the target audience of black Americans.
Late 1925
or
Early 1926
Texas born Blind Lemon Jefferson records in Chicago. The success of these recordings revolutionized Race Records, which had previously relied on female band vocalists with established reputations.
Dec 3
1927
Texas born Blind Lemon Jefferson records in Chicago. The success of these recordings revolutionized Race Records, which had previously relied on female band vocalists with established reputations.
1928 Mississippi Native John Hurt, better known as Mississippi John Hurt, records for Okeh records in New York and Memphis.
Sept
1928
Georgia Born Tampa Red records “It’s Tight Like That”. This song is considered a predecessor to urban blues and spurned numerous imitators of the song and the style.
June 14
1929
Mississippi Born Charlie Patton records 14 songs for Paramount Records in Richmond, Indiana. Charlie Patton would influence countless blues guitarists and musicians, including Son House and Robert Johnson.
Dec
1929
Blind Lemon Jefferson dies in Chicago. Both his music and his success had a tremendous impact blues musicians across the Southern United States.
1933 Louisiana born Huddie Ledbetter, better known as Leadbelly, is recorded by John and Alan Lomax at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola. Leadbelly, not exclusively a blues artist, introduced the blues to a wider audience. He was the first folk blues artist to present his music in concert to white audiences outside the South.
Apr 28
1934
Charlie Patton dies near Holly Ridge, Mississippi. He is considered by some to be the most influential blues musician on his contemporaries. Directly influencing Son House, Robert Johnson, Howlin’ Wolf, Bukka White, Big Joe Williams, Furry Lewis and Tommy Johnson, to name a few.
Nov
1936
Mississippi born Robert Johnson records for the first time in San Antonio, Texas.
Aug 16
1938
Robert Johnson dies near Greenwood, Mississippi at age 26. The cause of his death is widely disputed, but it is believed that he was murdered by a jealous husband who poisoned Robert’s Whiskey. Some consider Robert Johnson the most influential of early blues musicians and his direct influence is still felt today.
1941 Alan Lomax records McKinley Morganfield, better known as Muddy Waters, for the Library of Congress on Stovall’s plantation near Clarksdale, Mississippi.
1941 Alex Rice Miller, aka Sonny Boy Williamson (#2), begins performing live on the radio (KFFA) in Helena, Arkansas. ‘The King Biscuit Hour’ was fairly popular and made Sonny Boy a Delta radio star.
May
1943
Muddy Waters boards a train from Clarksdale, Mississippi to Chicago, Illinois. This trip is symbolically viewed as the first step in rural country blues’ transformation into urban blues.
Sept 6
1946
Mississippi Born Arthur ‘Big Boy’ Crudup records “That’s Alright Mama” for Blue Bird records in Chicago.
July 5
1954
Elvis Presley records Arthur ‘Big Boy’ Crudup’s “That’s Alright Mama” for Sun Records in Memphis, TN. This record launched Elvis’ career and a musical style called Rock and Roll.
1961 Columbia Records releases selections of Robert Johnson’s recordings on LP. This release was critical in the popularity of blues in England in years to come.
1963 Mississippi John Hurt, assumed to be deceased by many, is found living in Avalon, Mississippi. Still playing and singing his folk-blues in the same manner as he did in 1928 , he is asked to tour. Hurt, the first of the ‘rediscovered’ early blues artists, was a big success on the coffeehouse and folk festival circuit until his death in 1966.
Late
1963
Eric Clapton and the Yardbirds record John Lee Hooker’s “Boom Boom” among other blues standards in Surrey, England. The blues begins to catch on in England and Europe.

10 Comments to “A Blues Historical Timeline”

  • There’s good info here. I did a search on the topic and found most people will agree with your blog. Keep up the good work mate!

  • What a great find!Timelines of course are a very useful tool in keeping up with who did what when and where they did it.Glad you found this one and shared it here on your blog!

  • Good timeline, but it seems its only half done. Where is Bessie Smith, Big Mama Thornton, Billie Holiday? You didn’t name one woman after your mention of Mamie Smith at the beginning of the timeline. Let’s fill it in, OK?

  • DK,

    I agree completely. As I stated in the beginning of the post, it is a very basic timeline. I am open to dates and additions, and it can be turned into a project that constantly gets updated. If you have specific dates and people you would like added, simply send me (you can post it here) those EXACT dates and names, and I will add them in.

    Otherwise, I will look to update it myself as soon as I have the time.

    Thanks!

  • I dont know If I said it already but …Excellent site, keep up the good work. I read a lot of blogs on a daily basis and for the most part, people lack substance but, I just wanted to make a quick comment to say I’m glad I found your blog. Thanks, :)

    …..Frank Scurley

  • Awesome blog!

    I thought about starting my own blog too but I’m just too lazy so, I guess Ill just have to keep checking yours out.
    LOL,

  • Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by hadu: RT @TheAshGrove: A Blues Historical Timeline http://ow.ly/rZPA

  • BLUES MUSIC WAS INVENTED,CREATED&BARELY DEVELOPED BY DIRT POOR BLACK FOLKS,MISTREATED FIELD FARM WORKERS.SOME BLACK FOLKS PREYED LIKE IT FAITH HAD POWERS TO END THE SUFFERING SOME MOANED&SIGHED THOSE BACKWOOD,BACKROAD BLUES SONGS,FROM THEIR PERSONAL LIFE EXPERINCE FROM THEIR FLEETING PERCEPTIONS.EVERY ETHNIC GROUP,EVERY COLOR HAS BEEN UNDER THE FOOT OF MINDLESS POWER AND SUFFERED WHILE SAVING BITS OF THEIR CULTURE TO BE BLINDLY PROUD OF;WE TOO WE BLACK FOLKS AS
    A PEOPLE HAVE SAVED PARTS OF OUR CULTURE TO BE AS BLINDLY PROUD
    AS A JEW,A JAPANESE,A GERMAN,IRISH,A MALIEAN A ARGENTENEAN ETC.
    WHILE THERE ARE CERTAINLY VERY GOOD NATURED PEOPLE IN EVERY RACE THERE ARE MORONS IN EVERY RACE,BUT FOR BETTER OR WORSE WE ARE ALL HERE TO EMBRACE ALL MUSIC&CULTURES AND WE ARE ALL HERE TO EMBRACE THE MUSIC OF THE BLUES;THE BLUES,A PRICELESS COLLECTION OF BLACK HISTORY&ART.
    BLACKBULL

  • TIMELINE IS OK BUT MISSING KEY INFORMITIVE LACONIC PRHASES.
    TIME SHOULD TRANSLATE SPECIFICS OF BLUES HISTORY&LINKS TO
    BLACK FOLKS THAT SUFFERED&AMBUSHED WHILE CREATIVELY&SACRIFICING TO PLAY THOSE PRICELESS BLUES.YES EVERY ETHNIC GROUP HAS SUFFERED UNDER THE FOOT OF SOME INSANE KNUCKELHEAD WITH TOO MUCH POWER.BUT AS SOME BLACKBULL HAS
    PERCEIVED,THESE DIRT POOR OVERWORKED BLACKBLUESMEN&WOMEN SANG ABOUT THEIR
    SUFFERING LIVES;AND I THINK THESES FOLKS SHOULD GET OVEREMPHASIZING DOCUMENTATION THAT THE INVENTION OF THE BLUES BELONGS TO BLACK FOLKS OF THE TIMES:ROBERT JOHNSON,RUBYT SMITH,MA RAINEY,MUDDY WATERS,JOHN LEE HOOKER,WC HANDY,HOGMAN MAXEY,BB KING,BLIND LEMON,PINETP PERKINS,JIMMY KING,ROBERT NIGHTHART,SON HOUSE,CEHAS&WIGGINS,BUDDY GUY,JUNIOR WELLS,
    SIPPIE WALLACE,MISS MICKEY CHAMPION,BIG MAMA-WILLIE MAY THORNTON,LIGHTIN HOPKINS AND COUNTLESS PIONEERS&ORIGINALS,STARVING UNDERPAID,NEVER PAID
    BLUES ARTISTS.ALSO GOOD COMMENT BY BLACKBULL&I LIKE YOUR BLUES-RADIO-GIG
    ROGER,

  • [...] recording session, cutting 14 sides of blues and spirituals on 78 discs. Spoonful Blues  ▷Blues timeline▹  The stock market crashes in October. Blind Lemon Jefferson dies mysteriously in December. [...]

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