When the Blues has the Blues

Ray Charles
Ray Charles

If I think back, I believe the first music I heard that could be classified as Blues would have been an old cassette tape of Ray Charles.  He was a giant in the world of music, with a musical voice all his own and became a foundational influence in the genres of Blues, R&B, and early Rock and Roll.  That old cassette had to be some sort of greatest hits compilation I’m sure, including such favorites as “Georgia On My Mind” and “What I’d Say”.  The one I remember as a straight up blues was a tune named “A Fool For You”.

Ray Charles, “ A Fool For You”

Robert Cray
Robert Cray

I was coming of age in that transition period between vinyl records and the first compact discs.  Most new releases were available on record, cassette and CD all at the same time.  Stores were selling records for less money, and I was able to explore new music by stretching my dollars and trying out things on LP.  I remember following the Grammy Awards and hearing the name Robert Cray for the first time.  I searched out some records by this blues guitarist, and bought them without having heard what they sounded like yet.  In the days before streaming music services, this was one of the only ways to hear something that wasn’t on the radio.

Robert Cray, “Smoking Gun”

Stevie Ray Vaughan
Stevie Ray Vaughan

This was during the same time that Stevie Ray Vaughan was getting a lot of attention with his brand of Texas Blues.  I was only beginning to realize at the time that the “Blues” comes in all shapes and sizes.  Chicago Blues, Texas Blues, Memphis Blues, Delta Blues, Rhythm and Blues, Rock and Roll with large blues roots.  Stevie Ray Vaughan’s was authentic Texas Blues that paid respect to what had gone before, as well as advance the tradition.  The two things that are most commonly known about Stevie is that he had a hit with “Pride and Joy”, and that he died tragically in a helicopter accident.  His life and career were cut short, but he is still a major figure in my music collection.

Stevie Ray Vaughan, “Pride and Joy”

This past week, one of the great sounds of the Blues was silenced when B.B. King died in his Las Vegas home under hospice care.  I wrote about B.B. King about six weeks ago, in a post entitled “No Introduction Needed For The King”, shortly before his recent hospitalization and transfer to home care.  Every Blues musician, blues fan, or fan of music in general is saddened by the passing of this great music legend.  He was a genuinely kind human being, from humble beginnings, who kept that humility through all of his success in the field of music.  If you have never heard another blues record in your life, you likely have heard something by B.B. King.  He didn’t invent the electric guitar, but anyone who has tried to play one owes Mr. King a debt.

bb-king

We all miss you B.B !

B.B. King, “When Love Comes to Town”

22 thoughts on “When the Blues has the Blues

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  1. We will all miss the great blues artists of our time, but Eric Clapton is still with us. I have to ask this, did you know that Ray Charles was blind? Blindness didn’t stop him, and it won’t stop many of us who have a passion and are called according to God’s purpose in our lives.

  2. I MET MR BB KING AT A CONCERT IN DENVER IN THE EARLY 70’S BACKSTAGE W MY GUITAR PLAYER. HE WAS 89 YEARS YOUNG.
    GIVE ME THE BEAT BOYS
    . TO FREE MY SOUL,
    . I WANNA GET LOST
    . IN YOUR ROCK N ROLL
    . N DRIFT AWAY…

    GOODBYE , SEE YA IN ROCK N ROLL
    HEAVEN BB. AMEN N AMEN!!!

  3. Thanks for that, I started off life in the sixties being a rock, folk and blues fan, and moved on through John McLaughlin and the Mahavishnu to classical music, especially contemporary classical. Still dig them old blues though. I helped a friend Peter Van Der Merwe do some of the research for his ground breaking book on the early history and interpretation of blues music, I’ve just forgotten the title, and bought for him the entire Lomax recordings, of the early blues, wonderful stuff. Best wishes and blesiings, Charles. 🙂

  4. The loss of yet another music legend. However, when B.B. played, he truly put his soul into his music. So every time we listen to his music, we can still feel his very being. Thanks for all the great tunes Blues Boy, you will be missed ❤

  5. I raised my children in Austin, TX. Stevie Ray Vaughan exemplified the laid back though powerful music of the city. I took elementary students to his statue on Town Lake and soaked in his music with them. Tragic though his death was, what he left behind still resonates. Thanks for the post!

  6. Reblogged this on the spare and commented:
    re-blogged from the best blog I have found on all kinds of music – here we have a muse about the blues – Ray Charles, Robert Cray, Stevie Ray Vaughn and B B King (RIP) – hope you enjoy this as much as I have!

  7. I hope his heaven is filled with music! Sometimes the body gets tired, the soul gets weary and it’s time to move on to the next gig. I’m certain it’s his largest crowd yet! 🙂

  8. Reblogged this on Denton Jazz Chronicles and commented:
    Such a rich legacy of songwriting, performing and , well, heart – Blues and Jazz can become intertwined. It’s all so appreciated. This re-blog goes out to the artists who have left us, while their artistry abides.

  9. This post really hit home for me; so many amazing artists makeup the soundtrack of my childhood. Being raised under the same roof as a musician certainly influenced my own lifelong love for music in all its many forms and genres. Stevie Ray and Eric Clapton were two of my mother’s favorites and I’ve known Lucille’s name for as long as I can remember. There’s no other who can make her talk or sing the way BB could, he is surely going to be missed. No one will ever be able to replace the legend he leaves behind. Thank you for sharing this post!

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