Blog #2 The Blues Took a Trip September 23rd, 2018

Although the musical styles of country, folk, and gospel music are very important, the blues is by far the most significant and impactful influence on rock ’n’ roll.  From the depths of the Delta to the more refined urban blues of Chicago; master blues artists such as Robert Johnson, Howlin’ Wolf, Willie Dixon, Muddy Waters, B.B. King and countless others collectively brought the blues forward throughout the 20th century.  Almost every rock band has been influenced by the blues whether they realized it or not.  The young and not quite-yet superstar guitarist/supergroup band leaders Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, and Keith Richards heard and saw Muddy Waters perform in the clubs of London in the mid-1950’s.  This gave rock music a major kick in the butt.  

The legendary supergroups Cream, Led Zeppelin, and the Rolling Stones mimicked the founding fathers of Delta and urban bluesmen with blues classics including; “Little Red Rooster,” “I Can’t Quit You Baby,” “Cross Roads Blues,” “Love in Vain,” and “I Just Want to Make Love to You.”  These strong influences were harnessed to take the next steps in rock evolution with classics such as Creams’ “Sunshine of Your Love,” Led Zeppelin’s (and Jake Holmes) “Dazed and Confused,” and The Rolling Stones’ “Gimme Shelter.”  When you listen to each of these original songs from Cream, Zeppelin, and The Stones you easily hear the strong blues influence but you also hear other rock ’n’ roll influences of artists such as Chuck Berry, Little Richard, and Buddy Holly.  Don’t forget to mix in the strong and original artistry of these supergroups who each brought their exciting and hard rocking original influence to the table.  

When you step into other rock genres like southern rock with the Allman Brothers and psychedelic rock with The Grateful Dead, you also hear bands with strong ties to the blues.  However, a progressive rock band such as Jethro Tull (that evolved from the John Evan Blues Band) had blues roots but infused so many other musical influences that their blues roots are heard much more subtly in the music.  Visit virtually every rock genre and sub-genre and you will find artists and bands all with varying degrees of blues influence.  In most cases, seek and you shall find the blues.

Post a blog entry with your personal take on the above discussion of the blues influence on rock.  Name a few bands that you like and describe the depth of their blues roots.  Point out a band or artist with strong obvious blues roots and then a band with more subtle blues influences.  

Recent Comments

  • Kenny RP
    September 24, 2018 - 12:36 am · Reply

    Guns N’ Roses was a hard rock band with blues influence because the lead guitarist Slash was a blues-inspired guitarist. For example, “Bad Apples” starts with the bluesy Hendrix chord, which is a dominant 7 #9.

    Stevie Ray Vaughn was a blues rock guitarist who was heavily influenced by his idol Albert King. “Pride and Joy”, “Texas Flood”, and “Tin Pan Alley” are just a few of his blues songs. King once told Stevie that he had soul because other guitarist just concentrate on guitar acrobatics without feeling. So playing blue notes isn’t enough. You have to feel them.

  • Farrah Cukor
    September 24, 2018 - 3:17 am · Reply

    I think the above discussion is all completely valid about the blues influence on rock ‘n’ roll. There is no genre of music more significant and impactful on rock ‘n’ roll than the blues. Giving people the freedom to take phrases in their personal style, to critically craft and understand their instrument- blues gives you those opportunities to really explore the music that is being created. Given that the blues are some of the first things people learn to play on instruments, it only makes sense that it automatically is embedded into performer’s bodies. As well, the music that people were listening to when rock ‘n’ roll was first being created was the blues. Those were the big names that were selling records at the time, the stuff you would hear on early radio. It’s the same idea as how people do covers of pop songs to start off their performing careers now, people were doing covers of blues tunes to be heard and scouted for recording situations.

    Of course the above blog post mentions bands like Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones, iconic bands with deeply rooted blues influences. A few other bands/musicians are Counting Crows, Stevie Ray Vaughan, the Allman Brothers, The Black Keys, and the White Stripes.

    Looking at an artist like Amy Winehouse, it is so clear all the blues influences in her music. Her voice is dripping with emotional and pain, her lyrics have a longing quality to them. Not just her early work, but all her music has simple ideas in action with her own shape and sound creating them.

    A band with more subtle blues influences, most famously, is the Beatles. They have so many different styles upon their music, that it is impossible to focus on just the blues aspect. Yet the feeling of many of their songs has that bluesy, sad, quality to it that draws the listener in. Take a song like I Want You (She’s So Heavy). It has that raw emotion aesthetic to it that was similar to the blues.

  • Joshua Fewtrell
    September 27, 2018 - 12:32 am · Reply

    Honestly, I think the best band that has ever done blues is, and always will be Led Zeppelin, simply because every member added so much emotion and character to each of those songs that really made them what they were.

    Say for example, Whole Lotta Love. It was so good and raw that it sounds the same as Willie Dixon musically, but it has different characteristics that make it it’s own sound. Zeppelin had that drive, and 4 special elements that were fantastic on their own, but when put together really made a sound like no other that has ever existed in the history of mankind.

    Another one of my favorite blues artists, at least modern blues artists would have to be John Mayer and his trio. The man has soul and a lot of solid talent with a killer guitar tone that is smooth like no other. It hits the right way for me.

    • Art Rivell
      September 30, 2018 - 10:52 pm · Reply

      John Mayer is such a good example of modern blues. His music hits me the right way too. As Eric Clapton even said in an interview one time about John Mayer, “He is extremely gifted, his facility is phenomenal, he is a master”. That is a huge compliment.

  • Sarah Hynson UA
    September 27, 2018 - 2:26 am · Reply

    It is extremely evident that the modern-day music we enjoy today would not have been possible without the blues., making it the most influential genre. However, it is more obvious in some cases than in others. To me, more obvious cases include the music of Alabama Shakes. Brittany Howard’s rusty and laid back style shows roots of iconic blues artists such as Howlin’ Wolf. They occasionally utilize the 12-bar blues form as in “Heavy Chevy.” The song “Miss You,” as well as many other of their tunes, showcases beautifully one of the many uses of Dominant 7 chords, which is a heavy characteristic of the blues. Lake Street Dive is another example of a band heavily influenced by the blues. For example, “Seventeen contains a prominent lick that is derived from the blues. “Go Down Smooth” is a song about drinking, which was, and is, a common theme.
    Perhaps Pink Floyd has more hidden blues characteristics. While basic blues sounds much more raw, Pink Floyd is much more produced. For example, “Money,” as it is written in 7, and contains added sound effects. Yet, it holds the blues guitar style, and consistent lick, as heard in the bassline. The vocals in the song display blues tamber. Additionally, “Hey You” has an extended intro, and refrains from the traditional blues format. Unlike traditional blues, the song begins very delicately, and builds throughout. Sound effects are also used in this song, adding to the non-traditional aspect. I would also like to add that Pink Floyd is one of my most favorite bands.

  • Sarah Hynson UA
    September 27, 2018 - 2:27 am · Reply

    It is extremely evident that the modern-day music we enjoy today would not have been possible without the blues, making it the most influential genre. However, it is more obvious in some cases than in others. To me, more obvious cases include the music of Alabama Shakes. Brittany Howard’s rusty and laid back style shows roots of iconic blues artists such as Howlin’ Wolf. They occasionally utilize the 12-bar blues form as in “Heavy Chevy.” The song “Miss You,” as well as many other of their tunes, showcases beautifully one of the many uses of Dominant 7 chords, which is a heavy characteristic of the blues. Lake Street Dive is another example of a band heavily influenced by the blues. For example, “Seventeen contains a prominent lick that is derived from the blues. “Go Down Smooth” is a song about drinking, which was, and is, a common theme.
    Perhaps Pink Floyd has more hidden blues characteristics. While basic blues sounds much more raw, Pink Floyd is much more produced. For example, “Money,” as it is written in 7, and contains added sound effects. Yet, it holds the blues guitar style, and consistent lick, as heard in the bassline. The vocals in the song display blues tamber. Additionally, “Hey You” has an extended intro, and refrains from the traditional blues format. Unlike traditional blues, the song begins very delicately, and builds throughout. Sound effects are also used in this song, adding to the non-traditional aspect.

  • CJ Williams-Inniss
    September 27, 2018 - 7:56 am · Reply

    The White Stripes is a garage rock band that has a couple blues influences in their music. In 1999, they came out with a self titled debut album that was dedicated to the blues musician Eddie James “Son” House. The track “Cannon” from The White Stripes contains part of an a cappella version, which was performed by House, of the traditional American gospel blues song “John the Revelator”. “John the Revelator” is a traditional gospel blues call and response song. This song has been hugely influential to blues performers. The White Stripes also covered House’s song “Death Letter” on next album De Stijl. But later in their career, blues wouldn’t been as prominent in their music.

  • Art Rivell
    September 27, 2018 - 9:15 pm · Reply

    I agree with everything stated in the blog post. Today we can still hear the strong influence that blues and rock and roll has had and will continue to have on music. Some of the music we can examine for the blues is more obvious and derivative than others.

    This is extremely blatant in the the band ‘Greta Van Fleet’ – who in my opinion is too eerily close to Zeppelin that they almost come across as a straight up rip off, but that is beside my point – My point is that here we are in 2018, and that sound Zeppelin had, a extremely blues influenced sound, still maintains itself on the relevancy scale to this day in newer acts. A couple of more obvious examples of blues grand influence include guitar virtuoso’s Guthrie Govan and Plini. They are similar to your examination of Jethro Tull in that their musical influence is so broad and they have a progressive element. But it’s easy to hear those guitar lines that have such a deep root in the blues.

    We can hear bands with an even more subtle influence from the blues with South African singer-songwriter Dave Matthews. His world grooves, and his South African flare paired with his fusion of blues and rock were the building blocks for his unique and eclectic sound.

  • Cameron Weeks
    September 29, 2018 - 7:16 pm · Reply

    It is evident that the blues had a significant influence on the development of rock One of the clearest examples of blues/rock cross over is The Rolling Stones. For example, “You Gotta Move” from their 1971 album Sticky Fingers uses a very traditional blues arrangement. Mick Jagger’s voice is filled with sorrowful emotion, similar to many blues singers of the past. This song even employs slide guitar, a common technique used by blues musicians. The blues continued to influence The Stones throughout their career, even in their more rock-heavy tracks.
    To this day, there are still rock musicians who employ blues techniques in their music. Artists like The White Stripes as well as in Jack White’s solo career, Gary Clark Jr, and even more pop-oriented rock artists like John Mayer are all clearly influenced by blues music. By recalling blues artists of the past, rock bands often give their songs more emotion and “feel” which is arguably the most prominent characteristic of the blues. Personally, I really enjoy when music is ambiguous in regards to the era it was recorded. For example, The Black Key’s 2010 album Brothers could easily sound as if it was recorded in the 70s to the untrained ear. My personal favorite track from that album is These Days which is a slow, melancholy song that was clearly influenced by the blues.

  • Rachele Robbins
    September 30, 2018 - 8:25 pm · Reply

    Just like everything else, music builds and gets better with time. Without the renaissance period we would not have the the baroque age or the classical period. Music is ever evolving, the above discussion validates how music is layered and gives way for new and innovative genres. It is extremely evident that the blues had a huge influential impact on rock, we see this in bands like The Rolling Stones. Their use of strong emotions in their in songs such as “I can’t get no Satisfaction” or “Jumping Jack Flash” are perfect examples of how blues based they were. An other artist that shows blues influence in their music is Leon Bridges. His soulful voice and funky groove in songs such as “Smooth Sailin” and “Bad Bad” are great examples of the impact of the blues.

  • Mark DeLucca
    September 30, 2018 - 9:09 pm · Reply

    There is no doubt that the blues was, and still is one of the biggest influences in rock music. I think Led Zeppelin will always be one of the top bands that brought this influence to the table. They had covers such as “You Shook Me” and “I Can’t Quit You Baby” that were clearly a love for their blues roots. I think songs like this helped to form some of their originals such as “Dancing Days” and “Black Dog” which still clearly have those blues roots. Even when Zeppelin branched out with tunes like “All of my Love” and “D’yer Mak’er”, the blues influence is still present.

  • Adam Gresko
    October 1, 2018 - 1:46 am · Reply

    The famous bands that come to mind when talking about the blues are Cream, Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones and many rock bands that have come after these bands have very strong blues roots without even realizing it most of the time. Most kids start taking guitar lesson and try to learn rolling stones and Zeppelin songs with all these blues ideas, sometimes without even realizing they are playing the blues. Almost every kid in a guitar shop plays the same couple blues scale/Pentatonic Licks just because they hear Jimmy Page do it or Eric Clapton. Most times it’s not because they are listing to Muddy Waters or musicians from that time period.

  • Enrica Iacovone
    October 1, 2018 - 2:21 am · Reply

    There is no denying that the blues influenced rock music. There is clear evidence that rock has evolved from and incorporated aspects of the blues. It is very apparent in a band like the Rolling Stones. Not only have they covered various blues songs, but even their original works are reminiscent of the blues. There are still artists today that are influenced by the blues. One artist in particular is John Mayer, though his influence is more subtle. His use of call and response between voice and guitar is derived from the blues, along with many other aspects of his music.

  • Jack Callahan
    October 1, 2018 - 3:24 am · Reply

    The Blues’ widespread impact on Rock was so important to Rock’s creation that nearly every band since has been influenced by the structure, the sound, and the attitude. Artists like Lenny Kravitz have taken clear influence from the licks of blues music. Structurally, the I-IV-V 12 or 16-bar form has been used by countless rock bands, such as The White Stripes. There’s far more obvious blues influence vocally and instrumentally from bands like the Alabama Shakes or The Black Keys that continue the gritty, raw sound of early blues into the modern era.

  • Jason Noble
    October 1, 2018 - 3:47 am · Reply

    Similarly to the Funk influences in Hip Hop, it is no secret that the Blues is ever present in the foundation of Rock. From more straight forward Blues/Rock acts like Albert Collins and James Cotton, to Blues in Country like Cocaine Blues (Johnny Cash) and Blues in psychedelic Rock demonstrated in Jimi Hendrix’s “Blues Jams”, the genre made its way through the sub-genres of rock, influencing artists all the way from rock’s origin through it’s present. Sometimes the influence is obvious when bands use things like structural or theoretical aspects of the blues and other times the proof is in the details; for instance it could be the subtitles of the presentation. Regardless, I agree that if you look closely, the Blues’s influence can be found throughout Rock and beyond.

  • Bethany Harding
    October 1, 2018 - 4:01 am · Reply

    Whenever I listen to any Rock ‘n’ Roll song, I always listen for the blues foundations. One of my favorite rock bands that is heavily influenced by blue (and a little bit of country) is the Steve Miller Band. One of the songs off of their Greatest Hits album, The Stake is easily compared to the blues. The drums play a shuffle like beat and it is very guitar driven. Other songs of theirs make it very evident that they are deeply rooted in genres like the Delta blues & urban blues

    • Sarah Hynson UA
      October 15, 2018 - 1:34 pm · Reply

      Hi Bethany,

      Me too! I always find it interesting to hear how other bands utilize the essence of the blues in their music. In fact, I find it difficult NOT to find blues influences, even in many modern day artists. Some make it more obvious than others, but the foundation is surely there, nonetheless.

  • Brianna Hawk
    October 1, 2018 - 4:08 am · Reply

    Delta Blues along with Blues rock have been styles that many musicians find themselves referring back to for means of inspiration, technique and composition. The Blues had a huge influence on the development of rock music in London during the 1950s and to this day many artists continue to use it’s call and response patterns, chord progressions, shuffles and grooves in their own music that is even considered to be outside of the blues genre. Creedence Clearwater Revival is a band that had obvious blues influence especially in their hit “Feelin’ Blue”. When the band was just a trio they were originally even named “The Blue Velvets” playing at jazz clubs and juke box standards. More current bands such as Mumford & Sons, Alabama Shakes and Fleet Foxes are categorized as folk rock and classic rock bands but have obvious blues musical characteristics ,dynamics and

  • Maureen C
    October 1, 2018 - 2:01 pm · Reply

    One of my favorite bands Fleetwood Mac started out as a blues band in their earliest line ups. The band still plays some of there more blues influenced songs on live tours which is apparently why Lindsey Buckingham was fired from this current line up.

  • Stephen Norcross (UA)
    October 1, 2018 - 2:05 pm · Reply

    The Classic Rock band I would personally would cite as having been most influenced by the blues would be Led Zeppelin. You can pin point multiple instances of previous blues tunes being slightly modified to create a “new” Led Zeppelin song.

    The artist I would cite being most influenced today by the blues would be Gary Clark Jr. Trying his hardest to be todays Muddy Waters.

  • sean Kelley
    October 1, 2018 - 2:25 pm · Reply

    I agree. the blues came about in a time when most musicians where more classically trained until early blues plays started playing a style of music that when with their rules. Weather it was adding a beat or bar, or playing notes out of key blues was a style of music that gave artist of all skill levels a way to expresses themselves. This aspect of the blues allowed it to be the entier foundation for rock n roll. Because of the simplicity of the genre it made it very easy for jazz, or gospel or folk musician to either add a little bit of blues to what they were doing or to add some jazz or country to the blues. In addition to the because of the simple forms of repeated 12 bar phrases it made it very easy for bands to take one blues song and add their twist almost making it into a whole new song. Rock n roll has blues at its very core it is a music that is for everyone to play and listen to and gives the artist an unlimited amount of directions to take a song.

  • Justin McCord
    October 1, 2018 - 2:29 pm · Reply

    One of my favorite groups is the Clark Sisters and I feel they are heavily influenced by blues and use it frequently in their Gospel style of music . The riffs and motifs they use could easily be mistaken for Aretha Franklin and her blues influence.

  • Seth Chaffin
    October 1, 2018 - 4:42 pm · Reply

    I believe that Led Zeppelin has been one of the more successful Rock bands to incorporate the blues into their music. You can hear the characteristics of the blues their music but they add other styles and their own artistic styles that make their unique sound.

  • Ali Zaidspiner (UA)
    October 1, 2018 - 5:43 pm · Reply

    The blues is such a key factor in rock music. A great example of an artist who is strongly influenced by the blues would be Amy Winehouse. Amy cites the blues as having a large impact on her vocal style and songwriting. She puts so much emotion into each and every note that comes out of her mouth. She embodies the blues.

    Sara Bareilles is a good example of someone who shows a slight influence of the blues in her music. If you pay attention you can hear her strong use of the blues scale in many of her songs.

  • Yelim Lee
    October 1, 2018 - 10:12 pm · Reply

    Jesper Munk is a musician from Munich, Germany, who debuted in 2013. He began playing guitar at the age of 15, under the influence of blues rock and Mississippi Delta blues, and in 2010 he started his own music career with his own band. When you listen to his music, his unique tone really falls on your ears. The genre is blues rock, but it is not a rough blues-rock to hear. The melody is kind and warm, but the tone of the musician is so unique and rough, so it sounds quite attractive to meet these two different charms.

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