I am one of the earliest born of the Baby Boomer generation which still left me too young to be aware of the pioneers of the Rock and Roll phenomenon as it was being born. I missed the early years of the likes of Bill Haley and the Comets, Carl Perkins, Buddy Holly, The Big Bopper or Richie Valens. Even Elvis or others crossing over from Country, the Blues or what was then referred to as Negro music such Little Richard or Chuck Berry. I listened to Rock and Roll, or the Top 40, almost exclusively from then though all its iterations including those early artists crafting the genre from the Blues, through the Surfer craze in the early 60’s (Beach Boys, Dick Dale), the Hippie era (Jefferson Airplane, Jimmy Hendrix) the British Invasion (Beatles and Rolling Stones), Folk music (Joan Baez, Joni Mitchell) and ballad singer (Jim Croce) plus one in a class by herself, the Devine One – Bette Midler!
We listened to “our” music until our first child was born in 1974 which for some reason left us frozen in the music of the 50s’to early 70’s. I have tried other genres; Country (too twangy plus my parents listened to that), Classical (too slow and hard to hear in a car) even Opera (okay, only once but need I say more?).
But, one day in the home of a college classmate I heard the LP, “Take A Giant Step” by Taj Mahal. It was the first time I’d listened to the Blues and I was hooked. Blues connected with me, it spoke to my core; I could feel the music and the moods and emotions the lyrics spoke of. I understood it to be the very roots of Rock and Roll.
Over the years since I have listened to Blues as it was created and has evolved over a life span of many more years than Rock and Roll. I have had to listen pretty much by myself as no one else in my family likes much of it. I can understand that when they are the scratchy, poorly recorded early fathers of the Delta Blues (Charlie Patton or Son House, even the studio recordings of the legendary Robert Johnson whose skill with the guitar was admired by such as Eric Clapton and was the basis for the legend of the guitar play who sold his soul to the devil at the crossroad at midnight).
I enjoy listening to it all; styles originating from the Mississippi Delta, Texas or in Chicago where Blues evolved from the acoustic sounds of Big Bill Broonzy or Howln’ Wolf to the electric Blues pioneered by the “King” of the Blues, the great B.B. King. B.B. wrote in his autobiography that Taj Mahal was one of his favorite musicians so I guess it is appropriate that my interest in the Blues started with him and in some respects reached its pinnacle in the music of The King.