Friday, November 06, 2020

FRIDAY MUSIC: Britblues, by JD

Still looking over my shoulder and not quite drowning in nostalgia but looking to see how it came about that British teenagers fell in love with American 'blues' and 'rhythm and blues' music and how British groups adopted the style and successfully re-introduced it to the USA.

In the post war period traditional jazz became one of the popular music styles of the time and among the well known names, via radio and TV, were Chris Barber and Humphrey Lyttelton. Jazz, imported from the USA, had its roots in blues and ragtime; blues being the music of the African Americans and ragtime was so called for its 'ragged' rhythms. Both Barber and Lyttelton would include blues style music in their repertoire. In 1955 Chris Barber and his guitar player Lonnie Donegan had a hit with 'Harmonic Blues' and in 1956 Lyttelton had success with 'Bad Penny Blues' which was transformed about ten years later by Paul McCartney into 'Lady Madonna' But the main impetus came, I think, from Lonnie Donegan who would lead a skiffle group during the intervals of Barber's shows, and sing Leadbelly songs. Most of the British 'beat' groups would cite Donegan as an influence on their own development.

So I have been digging into my own collection of records as well as digging into my memories of a mis-spent youth visiting the local jazz and beat clubs. Nostalgia is wonderful and thanks to the 'time machine' known as YouTube we can re-live our youth, although dancing as in the old days is not so easy now!

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