The Blues originates from the Deep South of America, rooted in the soil worked by African-American slaves. The rhythm and repetitive beat would summon forth the spiritual song; the work-song in the cotton fields and would later become the freedom song but still steeped in the pain of racial discrimination and categorized as Mississippi or Delta Blues.

With the migration of the field workers to the industrial heartlands of the northern states around Chicago, Michigan and Detroit, a more robust amplified sound evolved. These electrified blues became known as the Chicago Blues.

The rhythm of the blues resonates in all forms of music and undoubtedly without it, there would not have been rock & roll and all that followed it. The Blues has inspired artist across the globe from the likes of Elvis Presley, The Rolling Stones, Chuck Berry, The Beatles, Jimi Hendricks and Led Zeppelin and the list goes on.

Track 1

Gertrude Pridgett professionally known as Ma Rainey born April 1886 in Columbus, Georgia, bought her southern blues style to the American vaudeville scene and would entertain the crowd with her ballsy risky lyrics and her sassy tone with the Rabbit Foot Minstrels Show. She was suitably titled 'The Mother of the Blues'. Along with her husband Will Rainey she later formed the band Rainey and Rainey, Assassinators of the Blues.

Her first recording in 1923 was the song "Bo-Weevil Blues". This was one of over 100 recordings she made across her career. She would return to Georgia to run her own theatres and would later be honoured in the Blues Foundations Hall of Fame. Her story has been depicted on Broadway by Whoopi Goldberg and more recently dramatised in an upcoming Netflix production with Viola Davis in the starring role. Ma Rainey is one of the most influential female blues singers of all time, inspiring many of the artists on this playlist. 'Call Me Anything but Call Me' is one of her classics.

Track 2.

When talking the blues, respect and recognition must be given to Willie Dixon for writing some of the most popular Blues songs that we know and love. You will know one or more of them even if you are not a blues fan. For instance, how about 'Little Red Rooster' made famous by Howlin Wolf, The Rolling Stones and Big Mama Thornton (who is next up on your 'Influenced by The Blues', BodyHoliday Teatime playlist). This track was also covered by The Doors and Sam Cooke to name a few. 'Bring It on Home' released in 1963 by Sonny Boy Williamson II. Later, it was covered by Led Zeppelin, who did borrow extensively from the Blues genre. They were sued by Willie Dixon for the unrecognised use of his tracks on their albums. Eventually, "In 1987, Dixon reached an out-of-court settlement with Led Zeppelin after suing for plagiarism of his music in 'Bring it On Home", and the lyrics from his composition "You Need Love" (1962) in the band's recording of "Whole Lotta Love".  

"Groanin' the Blues" released in 1957 by the mighty Otis Reading, 'I Just Want to Make Love to You' recorded by Muddy Waters in 1954 are just a few of the blues hits penned by Willie Dixon.

Here, he is sings 'You Shook Me' on the 1970 album 'I am The Blues', and he sure is!

Track 3.

'Little Red Rooster' Written by Howlin' Wolf and Willie Dixon performed by the Rolling Stones and released in 1964.

The 1961 original recording by Howlin' Wolf was in the Mississippi Delta Blues style, with its sliding guitar and harmonica, in the tradition of a one-man blues band.

The Rolling Stones famously insisted on Howlin' Wolf being given a slot on the US show ‘Shindig!’ before they would agree to appear themselves. Wolf's appearance on the show in 1965 has been described as "one of the greatest cultural moments of the 20th Century" that "built a bridge over a cultural abyss and connected America with its own black culture." The show constituted "a life-changing moment, both for the American teenagers clustered round the TV in their living rooms, and for a generation of blues performers who had been stuck in a cultural ghetto’. The Rolling Stones, therefore, played an important part in introducing America to their own blues.

Track 4. 

One of the ladies of the Blues and Big Mama Thornton's Hound Dog, first recorded in 1952, written and produced by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller.

Stoller insisted that Big Mama growl on the track and she sure does. Leiber and Stoller also worked with Elvis Presley and were the writers of 'Jail House Rock'. Elvis goes on to have a hit record with the same song that went on to sell 10 million copies - Thornton earned only $500 from the sales of the song. Big Mama Thornton was not only a vocalist, but she also played the drums and the harmonica and was the songwriter of 'Ball and Chain' which Janice Joplin had hit with. Joplin claimed that Thornton had a big influence on her - another hugely popular artist inspired by the Blues.

Track 5.

'Mystery Train' written by Junior Parker in 1953 performed here by Elvis Presley and released in 1955 as a B side of the rockabilly country song 'I forgot to remember to forget' which was number one on the Billboard country charts in 1956.

Elvis was a versatile singer and could sing many genres of music with the blues being right on top of his list. The rhythm of the record gives you a sense of a train moving on the track, encouraging you to move along with it. Junior Parker worked with the legendary blues artists, Howlin' Wolf and B.B. King, and in 1951 he formed his own band The Blue Flames, and was discovered by the likes of Turner ( of Ike and Tina Turner fame). In 1953 he signed to the independent record label Sun Records which Elvis Presley was also signed to, as well as Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison and Jerry Lewis. Herman "Junior" Parker in 2001 was inducted into the Mississippi Musicians Hall of Fame, a well-deserved accolade.

Track 6.

The Beatles' Yer Blues' (Esta Demo) is taken from the 'White Album' a double album originally released in 1968.

Written by John Lennon while in India on a retreat, "Lennon said that, while "trying to reach God and feeling suicidal" in India, he wanted to write a blues song".  

You can hear the melancholy on the track. Paul McCartney claimed that later, the song was recorded in a cupboard at EMI Studio Two's "annexe". Another recording on the 'Dirty Mac' album features a live version with John Lennon (Vocals), Eric Clapton (lead guitar), Keith Richards (Bass) and Mitch Mitchel (Drums) from The Jimi Hendrix Experience. I personally like the Tamborine that occasionally comes in on this version, listen out for it. Another supergroup influenced by the Blues.

Track 7.

'Howlin' for my Darlin' sung by the extraordinary Howlin' Wolf. Born in the Mississippi Delta and eventually making his way to Chicago just as many had gone before him.

Wolf and Muddy Waters became rivals carving out their spot in the limelight. Both artists became revered by the likes of the Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin. The bands were heavily influenced by Muddy Waters voice and guitar playing and Howlin' Wolf with his menacing stage presence, his deep vibrating vocal, harmonica wailing and guitar playing that demanded to be heard. Howlin' Wolf died in 1976 and his name still lives on as one of the great bluesmen. The Howlin' Wolf Foundation, based in Illinois, offers Summer scholarships for students interested in perfecting their musicianship and building a strong appreciation for the Blues in honour of this great Bluesman.

"I couldn't do no yodelin', so I turned to howlin'. And it's done me just fine." Howlin' Wolf.

Track 8.

No blues playlist is complete until you include Muddy Waters. He is referred to as "The Father of modern Chicago Blues". His influence resonates through the rock music genre in the songs of many rock and roll greats. Eric Clapton and his band, Cream, covered one of Water's songs, "Rollin and Tumbling", whilst Led Zeppelin's "Whole lotta love" is based on the Waters hit "You Need Love" written by Willie Dixon.

Muddy Waters has left a legacy of 9 live albums, 25 plus compilation albums, 13 Studio albums and 17 collaboration albums.  

Track 9

'You Need Love' released in 1963 was penned by Willie Dixon writer of so many blues hits. This is another Muddy Waters song, it is raw, wild and will get your foot tapping for sure. 'According to Keith Richards, when asked by a journalist for the band's name, Jones saw a Muddy Waters LP lying on the floor; one of the tracks was "Rollin' Stone’

Track 10.

Jamesetta Hawkins, professionally known as Etta James, was born in Los Angeles in 1939. Etta started singing at the age of five and her vocal training came from singing in church. Her father was not present in her life whilst her mother paid more attention to her lover of the moment. However, it was her mother who encouraged her to sing. "My mother always told me, even if a song has been done a thousand times, you can still bring something of your own to it. I'd like to think I did that." Etta James. 

When Etta sings, you can hear the hard life she has led, her full-bodied, rich voice pulls at your heartstrings. 'I'd Rather Go Blind' is a blues song written by Ellington Jordan and co-credit goes to Billy Foster and Etta James. In 2008 Beyonce depicted Etta James story in the movie Cadillac Records. Unfortunately, Etta slammed Beyonce's performance from which there was no comment from Beyonce.

Etta would go on to work in many genres like Blues, R&B, Jazz and Gospel leaving behind some memorable music.

Track 11.

With his bending of the guitar strings and the emotion in his voice this song is from the unmistakable B.B. King. Born on a plantation in Itta Bena, Mississippi in 1925. He would purchase his first guitar at the age of 15. As a youngster, he would play his guitar on the streets to make ends meet, with the aspiration to make his way to Memphis. He eventually moved to live with his cousin Bukku White who was a well-known blues musician at the time, with whom BB would gain tutorage, honing and perfecting his craft.

This track, '3 O'Clock Blues', was BB's 1st hit which sent him on the road with no looking back. Recorded in the 'coloured YMCA' in Memphis for RPM records in 1950. It paved the way for his immensely influential career that spanned over six decades. His guitar style would go onto influence Jeff Beck, George Harrison, Stevie Ray Vaughan, U2's The Edge, and Van Morrison to name but a few.

Track 12.

The American blues-rock band Canned Heat released 'On The Road Again' in 1967. The song was based on a track by the Delta Blues musician Tommy Johnson. Johnson has recordings that go way back to the 1920s, he sang with a falsetto voice, which was referred to as eerie and was very unusual for singing the blues. He also inspired the band's name which was taken from the Johnson song 'Canned Heat Blues' released in 1928.

The start of the track has a 60's psychedelic feel to it, but soon kicks in with a bluesy harmonica and vocals performed by band member Alan Wilson. Canned Heat performed On the Road Again at Woodstock in 1969 and is considered one of the highlights of this famous festival. Check it out!

Track 13.

'I'm In The Mood for Love' written by the main Bluesman himself, John Lee Hooker and featuring Bonnie Raitt. This track is taken from the 1989 album 'The Healer'. This is an excellent recording of two artists appreciating each other in the true 'call and response' blues style. Hooker would go onto say "Bonnie had been doin' it herself on her shows, which I didn't know until she told me, and she had it down pat. She said 'I'm gonna do that'n with you, 'I'm in the Mood'. If I ain't gonna do 'I'm in the Mood' I ain't gonna do nothin", I said, 'Okay, Bonnie, you do it!" Raitt described the recording, in a dimly lit studio, as "one of the highest erotic experiences of my life." And with that experience the song received one of the highest accolades, winning a Grammy in 1989 for the Best Traditional Blues Recording.

Track 14.

Albert King was named the 'The Velvet Bulldozer' due to his 6ft 4in 250lb frame. One of his first jobs involved driving a bulldozer, so his nickname suited him down to the ground. King was one of thirteen children and was born and raised on a cotton plantation in Indianola, Mississippi, where he grew up picking cotton. He made his first guitar out of a cigar box, bush and broom wire. He knew what it was like being "Born Under a Bad Sign" the title of his album released in 1967 on the Stax record label. For a time, he claimed to be BB Kings half-brother but with further investigation, his name was actually found to be Albert Nelson.

King's success came later in life than most artists being in his mid-40s when releasing Born Under A Bad Sign. The electric blues album failed to make waves on release but over the years respect for the album grew and is now widely considered one of the greatest blues albums of all time. In recognition of this fact Albert King was inducted into the Blues Hall in 1983. He was then posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2013. Whilst in 2011, he was ranked number 13 on Rolling Stone Magazines 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time.

Track 15.

Gary Clark Jr. is one of the new and exciting blues artists out there right now. Born in 1984 makes him a youngster on this playlist. His style is a fusion of blues, rock, soul, and hip hop. He has graced the stage with some of the greats such as B.B. King, Jeff Beck, Steve Winwood, Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers & ZZ Top to name a few. In the recording studio he has performed on the Foo Fighters 2014 album "Sonic Highways". Clark also co-wrote several songs with Alicia Keys and performed on Sheryl Crow's album '100 Miles from Memphis'. Gary Clark Jr. is certainly a musician to look out for. On this song 'Next Door Neighbour Blues' taken from his album Black & Blue released in 2012 he takes us back to some old-style, stripped back blues: vocals, guitar and his stomping left foot. This pared-back rhythm keeps the track moving along and you tapping your feet.

Track 16.

John Lee Hooker's "Things Gonna Change" track, featuring Carlos Santana, appeared on his Chill Out album released in 1995. The album also features collaborations with Van Morrison, blues singer & pianist Charles Brown & singer-songwriter Booker T Jones. The album reached number 3 in the US Blues charts and in 1996 was awarded the Traditional Blues Album of the Year. Hooker and Santana complement each other well on this track. The Latin rock guitar fits the call and response traditional blues style, whilst a cool Latin salsa feel keeps you in the holiday mood!

Track 17.

Joe Cocker's Black Eye Blues track was taken off his 1972 album. Released as Something to Say in Europe but eponymously titled Joe Cocker in the US. This track showcases Cocker's distinctive vocals adding a gritty vibrato to anchor the track. Cocker was, in the early part of his career, when playing pubs in his hometown of Sheffield as Vance Arnold and the Avengers, heavily influenced by Ray Charles and Chuck Berry. He later, however, became increasingly enamoured with the blues, especially artists featured on this playlist, Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker and Howlin' Wolf. Black Eye Blues is undoubtedly a nod of respect to these blues legends. By 1972 when this song was released Cocker had undertaken a self-imposed, almost two-year, hiatus from the music industry. This followed an eight-year rollercoaster of highs and lows that included supporting the Rolling Stones on tour, performances at iconic Woodstock and Isle of Wight Festivals and gruelling tour schedules of the US. The result of which was complete exhaustion, depression and a battle with alcoholism. Some say his personal battles gave his voice the necessary emotional resonance to really convey the blues, which when accompanied by his idiosyncratic physicality, flailing arms and playing air guitar gave his live performances a mesmeric intensity.

Cocker enjoyed his greatest musical successes when recording covers. The Beatles’ "I get by with a little help from my friends""She came in through the bathroom window" and The Box Tops classic "The Letter" which he recorded as part of the short-lived Mad Dogs and Englishmen, a touring band comprised of over twenty musicians, that legend has it caused havoc in every city they visited and hotel they stayed in. His voice remains one of the most distinctive within the popular music pantheon.

Track 18.

Walking Blues, featuring Keb' Mo' was recorded to honour blues legend Robert Johnson's birthday as part of the Playing for Change/ Song Around the World project. The song was made famous by Johnson although it was written and originally recorded by Son House in 1930.

Keb' Mo' (Kevin Roosevelt Moore) is an American blues musician and five-time Grammy Award winner. He has been described as "a living link to the seminal Delta Blues that travelled up the Mississippi River and across the expanse of America".

This rendition, of a 90-year-old blues standard classic, is given new resonance by the eclectic mix of musicians from six countries across the globe including the slide guitars played in Patagonia by Roberto Luti and Nico Bereciartua.

Playing for Change is a movement created to inspire and connect the world through music, born from the shared belief that music has the power to break down boundaries and overcome distances between people. Their primary focus is to record, and film musicians performing in their natural environments and combine their talents and cultural power in innovative videos they call Songs Around the World.

Track list created by Pepsi Demacque-Crockett. Details compiled from various online references including Wikipedia.

 Pepsi was part of the UK 80's pop scene, a member of “Wham!” and half of the duo “Pepsi and Shirlie”. She later graced the stage in several Musical theatre productions in the UK and performed across Europe with Mike Oldfield on his Millennial Bell European Tour. She now lives in St Lucia with her husband James & dog Shabby where she is a marriage officer and writer.