One of my favourite compilation records is Gaz’s Rockin Blues, put together by a DJ called Gaz Mayall, who turns out to be son of John Mayall, of the Bluesbreakers.
In nov. 2005, he wrote a very quotable piece about his collection, and what it taught him about the development of r’n’b, Blame It On The Boogie, for the Observer Music Mag …
He said, in part:
“When my dad went away on one occasion in the early Seventies, I found this big box of his old 78s and started playing them. I couldn’t get into the jazz stuff, but I really liked people such as Meade Lux Lewis, Pete Johnson and Albert Ammons, who were these three big, fat guys who started the boogie-woogie style of piano playing.
“I realised if you traced rock’n’roll back, it was just boogie-woogie and r’n’b, with white people playing it. So I started looking for reissues and old records at west London’s Portobello market and built up a collection …
“Jazz was black music with white instruments, taken from marching bands disbanded after the Civil War. By the Thirties there were blues guitarists and boogie-woogie piano players in bars.
“It all got put together with the big workers’ migration from the South up to Chicago, and that’s where the first records were made with electric guitars and piano together. Some drum and bass players started to leave the swing bands and join the blues guitarists and boogie-woogie pianists, creating the first rhythm and blues.
“One of the prime movers was Louis Jordan, who abandoned jazz and started experimenting with boogie-woogie. Joe Turner was crucial, too – he used to shout over the top at blues parties. Then younger guys who were slimmer and better-looking started taking over, like Wynonie Harris. He’d end up with girls throwing their knickers at him on stage while he was playing, and chucking themselves off balconies to reach him. Elvis Presley modelled his whole stage act on him.
“T-Bone Walker was the big guitar player in Forties r’n’b. He inspired a generation of guitarists, most notably Chuck Berry. Not only did he use to look great on stage – he had really flashy clothes – but he’d play the guitar behind his back while doing the splits.”
Lots to follow up here but let’s start off by getting a taste of Meades Lux Lewis at
At the top of the comments list, R.S. Field said: “That’s killer. Just discovered Meade Lux. Bought a collection called Hot House Piano and it is killer … he’s a Chuck Berry sort of James Booker.”