The top 5 Blues musicians of all time, in my humble opinion.
- Robert Johnson (Master of the Mississippi Delta Blues)
Remember that story somebody told you one drunken evening about this guy that sold his soul to the Devil to become a famous, successful musician? Well that myth is about Robert Johnson. This myth is more commonly known as the Faustian Myth and it claims that Robert Johnson got his axe-wielding skills by bartering his soul with Lucifer himself. What adds to the myth of Robert Johnson is that he was unknown in his time and only became famous for his musical endeavours in 1961, 23 years after his death, when the album ‘King of the delta blues singers’ was released with reissues of some of his songs recorded in 1936 and ’37.
He is probably the reason the 27’s club came to be (Seeing as he died at the age of 27 in 1938).
- BB King (The King of the Blues)
And the oldest living blues legend. At 89 years old, B.B. King still performs to this day! King is considered one of the most hardworking musicians of all time, appearing at an average of 315 shows per year until well into his 70’s. That makes you think – it seems some bands like to bitch about a busy tour schedule when they have to play 80 shows in 2 years. It is recorded that King still plays 100 shows per year…He is eighty-fucking-nine-years old!!!
Unlike Robert Johnson, B.B. King was very much a part of the limelight; he made guest appearances on several TV sitcoms including The Cosby Show, Young and the Restless (how random is that?), Sesame Street, Cow and Chicken (yes, this is for real) and Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (Just a pity he didn’t kick Will Smith in the wedding-tackle so the world could be spared the suckage that is Jaden Smith).
- John Lee Hooker (The preacher’s son)
Born on the 22nd of August 1917 in Coahoma County, Mississippi (you beginning to see a geographical pattern?), John Lee Hooker has seldom received the recognition deserved for his contribution to the Blues genre. What makes the preacher’s son unique is his adaptation of the Delta Blues, by throwing some electric guitar in the mix. He put his own unique stamp on Blues by blending electric guitar with talking blues and early north Mississippi Hill Country blues. During WWII he drifted through the United States working in an array of factories. In 1948 he found himself in Detroit, working for the Ford Motor Company and trawling the blues saloons of Hastings Street on Detroit’s east side (I Wonder if John Lee and Rodriguez ever crossed paths on a mutual quest for Inner City Blues…).
One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer:
- Steven Gene Wold (Seasick Steve)
This is where you say one of two things; 1. What? Really? You can’t be serious. Or, 2. Who?
To the first reaction I’d say the following; Yes, there are many Blues musicians that have had a bigger influence on the Blues genre than Steven Wold, but there aren’t many as unique and innovative as this guy. The equipment that made him famous is his simple 3-string GHI guitar. That’s right he plays the blues on a guitar with only 3-strings. But wait, there is more…His collection also sports a one-string guitar that is made from a broomstick and two Morris Minor hubcaps (Check out the Top Gear episode where Steve is the star in the reasonably priced car). For percussion he uses what he likes to call The Mississippi Drum Machine, which is a small wooden box that he stomps on to create a beat. Steven Wold, much like John Lee Hooker, drifted all over the world in his pursuit to be a musician, doing farm work and casual labour to survive. He describes this time of his life as follows; “Hobos are people who move around looking for work, tramps are people who move around but don’t look for work, and bums are people who don’t move and don’t work. I’ve been all three.”
Now, for the people with reaction number 2, check this out:
- Albert Frost
I really, really, really don’t care if you agree with me on this entry. Good South African music rarely gets the recognition it deserves and if there is one guy that needs to be recognised it is the legendary Albert Frost. He is an integral part of the Blues Broers, who have gained cult-status in South Africa. That being said, Blues Broers shows in Gauteng are as rare as free and fair elections in Zimbabwe.
Albert Frost has toured with Simple Minds, REM and The Rolling Stones.
Undoubtedly, one of the legends of the South African music industry and definitely an excellent Blues musician.
Devils and Gods: