Cover image for Blues singers : biographies of 50 legendary artists of the early 20th century
Blues singers : biographies of 50 legendary artists of the early 20th century
Dicaire, David, 1963-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Jefferson, N.C. : McFarland, [1999]

Physical Description:
vii, 292 pages ; 23 cm
Mississippi Delta bluesmen -- Chicago blues school -- Texas blues tradition -- Women of the blues -- Blues outside the delta.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
ML400 .D53 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



This reference volume is intended for both the casual and the most avid blues fan. It is divided into five separately introduced sections and covers 50 artists with names like Muddy, Gatemouth and Hound Dog who helped shape 20th-century American music. Beginning with the pioneering Mississippi Delta bluesmen, the book then follows the spread of the genre to the city, in the section on the Chicago Blues School. The third segment covers the Texas blues tradition; the fourth, the great blueswomen; and the fifth, the genre's development outside its main schools. The styles covered range from Virginia-Piedmont to Bentonia and from barrelhouse to boogie-woogie. The main text is augmented by substantial discographies and a lengthy bibliography.

Author Notes

David Dicaire is the author of numerous works about music history. He lives in Leamington, Ontario, Canada.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Dicaire's book is now one of a trio of volumes providing biographical information about blues artists. Sheldon Harris's Blues Who's Who (CH, Jun'80) offers the broadest coverage: 571 entries present data but no prose description or explanation; Gerard Herzhaft's Encyclopedia of the Blues (Eng. ed., CH, May'93) includes less data but more perspective under hundreds of entries. Blues Singers--with 50 biographies arranged in five stylistic categories, each with a brief introduction--has extensive profiles (with discographies) that run to as many as six pages. Dicaire includes only artists born prior to 1940, a cutoff date that is not a significant limitation in this field. No one will contest that each of the 50 artists made an unquestionable, significant contribution to blues history. In addition to a good summary of each artist's life, Dicaire provides comments on artistic and commercial considerations. Unlike the other two resources, this volume does not include any photographs. All of the books in this hierarchy are essential for blues collections; the present volume will be particularly useful to those with a limited background in the subject and so is recommended especially for undergraduate collections. C. M. Weisenberg; University of California, Los Angeles

Table of Contents

Introductionp. 1
Part 1 The Mississippi Delta Bluesmenp. 5
Charley Patton (1891-1934): Pony Bluesp. 6
Eddie "Son" House (1902-1988): Preachin' the Bluesp. 10
Skip James (1903-1969): I'm so Gladp. 16
Big Joe Williams (1903-1982): Poor Joe's Bluesp. 20
Robert Johnson (1911-1938): At the Crossroadsp. 25
Robert Jr. Lockwood (1915-): The Master's Apprenticep. 32
Johnny Shines (1915-1992): A Traveling Companionp. 36
John Lee Hooker (1917-): Boogie Childp. 41
Albert King (1923-1992): Born Under a Blues Signp. 47
B. B. King (1925-): The Little Blues Boyp. 52
Part 2 The Chicago Blues Schoolp. 63
Big Bill Broonzy (1893-1958): Key to the Highwayp. 64
Tampa Red (1904-1981): The Guitar Wizardp. 69
John Lee "Sonny Boy" Williamson (1914-1948): The Bluebird Bluesp. 74
Muddy Waters (1915-1983): Catfish Bluesp. 79
Willie Dixon (1915-1992): The Background Manp. 87
Howlin' Wolf (1910-1976): Growlin' the Bluesp. 92
Elmore James (1918-1963): The Broomdusterp. 99
Sonny Boy Williamson II (1910-1965): One Way Out Bluesp. 104
Jimmy Reed (1925-1976): The Sweet Bluesp. 109
Little Walter (1930-1968): The Mississippi Saxophonep. 114
Otis Spann (1930-1970): A Blues Storyp. 119
Otis Rush (1934-): Double Trouble Bluesp. 123
Buddy Guy (1936-): The First Time I Met the Bluesp. 128
Magic Sam (1937-1969): West Side Bluesp. 133
Part 3 The Texas Blues Traditionp. 139
Blind Lemon Jefferson (1897-1929): The Blues Cometp. 140
Huddie "Leadbelly" Ledbetter (1889-1949): 'Lectric Chair Bluesp. 147
Aaron T-Bone Walker (1910-1975): Stormy Monday Bluesp. 152
Sam "Lightnin'" Hopkins (1912-1985): Lightnin' Strikesp. 158
Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown (1924-): Gatemouth's Bluesp. 164
Albert Collins (1932-1993): The Iceman Comethp. 169
Freddie King (1935-1976): A Link in the Chainp. 174
Johnny Copeland (1937-1997): The Fire Makerp. 178
Part 4 Women of the Bluesp. 185
Ma Rainey (1886-1939): Mother of the Bluesp. 186
Bessie Smith (1894-1939): Empress of the Bluesp. 191
Ida Cox (1896-1967): Raisin' Cainp. 196
Sippie Wallace (1898-1986): Special Delivery Bluesp. 201
Victoria Spivey (1906-1976): Moanin' the Bluesp. 205
Willie Mae Thornton (1926-1984): Hound Dog Bluesp. 210
Koko Taylor (1935-): I Got What It Takesp. 215
Etta James (1938-): The Messenger's Voicep. 219
Part 5 Blues Outside the Deltap. 225
Lonnie Johnson (1894-1970): Mr. Johnson's Bluesp. 226
Blind Willie McTell (1901-1959): Dean of Atlanta Bluesp. 232
Pete Johnson (1904-1967): A Boogie-Woogie Kingp. 236
Roosevelt Sykes (1906-1984): The Honeydripper Bluesp. 241
Blind Boy Fuller (1907-1941): Rattlesnakin' Daddy Bluesp. 246
Big Joe Turner (1911-1985): Shoutin' the Bluesp. 251
Sonny Terry (1911-1986) and Brownie McGhee (1915-1996): East Coast Blues Duop. 256
Professor Longhair (1918-1980): New Orleans House Partyp. 262
John Mayall (1934-): The Blues Professorp. 267
Appendix Recordings by Three or More Blues Singersp. 275
Selected Bibliographyp. 279
Indexp. 285