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.