5 Blues Giants You Must Listen To
I used to have a very successful boss who would often have meetings in his office round his big desk. What I noticed about him during these meetings - and it's a trait I've noticed in most good musicians - was that he listened more than he talked.
And so as a guitarist, the more blues you can listen to, the better.
Here are my top 5 suggestions.
- Robert Johnson (May 8, 1911 – August 16, 1938) . It was Johnson's recordings in 1936 and 37 that led to him becoming a legend and influencer of many of the sixties rock'n'roll and blues acts. Johnson's life is mired in mythology, the most famous incident being the Devil and The Crossroads. The Devil took Johnson's guitar, showed him some songs and tuned it for him in return for his soul. Johnson used the chugging technique a lot on the bottom strings of the guitar. His music may sound strange to you and don't try to work out the time signatures, but it's haunting and unique.
- Mississippi John Hurt (July 3, 1893— November 2, 1966) was a country blues guitarist who sang in a loud whisper with a beautiful fingerstyle, alternating bass accompaniment. One of my personal favourites, his style is a mixture of blues, old time folk and ragtime. Often called Piedmont blues, the droning thumb of the right hand makes a wonderful bass for the picked notes of open D and G chords to sing over.
- John Lee hooker (August 22, 1917 - June 21 2001) started playing in a Delta blues style but quickly developed his own unique way of playing the guitar. Led by and shaped by his booming voice, the guitar parts are free and easy. Notice his right hand thumb banging the bottom strings and fingers violently pulling the strings. Again, don't try to work out the time signature - there ain't one. Try banging your guitar also (but not too hard) in marriage with the vocals you're singing. See what results you get. You'll probably come up with someone quite unique if you persevere.
- BB King (born September 16, 1925). One of the most respected and admired bluesmen, BB King has an all encompassing style with a vast library of licks, expressive techniques and tons of soul. His guitar (which he calls Lucille) is a Gibson ES-355. He is perhaps best known for his effortless and heart-rending vibrato. If you want to play like BB, work on making every note count and practice making your vibrato as tasteful as possible.
- Stevie Ray Vaughan (October 3, 1954 – August 27, 1990) Possibly one of the greatest guitarists of all time. Stevie Ray Vaughan was heavily influenced by Albert King, Buddy Guy and Jimi Hendrix. He was also a huge Lonnie Mack fan whom, he said, "really taught me to play guitar from the heart". His playing style often combined rhythm and lead at the same time giving a massive sound, helped along by the heavy guitar strings he used and the fact that he sometimes tuned his guitar to Eb - a semi-tone lower than usual.
If you want to learn how to play like BB King or Steve Ray Vaughan then I can highly recommend Learn & Master Blues Gutiar