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Unit 1 – The Blues, Rock and Roll and Racism PowerPoint Presentation
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Unit 1 – The Blues, Rock and Roll and Racism

Unit 1 – The Blues, Rock and Roll and Racism

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Unit 1 – The Blues, Rock and Roll and Racism

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  1. Unit 1 – The Blues, Rock and Roll and Racism “It used to be called boogie-woogie, it used to be called blues, used to be called rhythm and blues…It’s called rock now.” - Chuck Berry

  2. I. The Birth of the Blues • Rock and Roll comes from the blues. • Blues is an art form derived from American slaves, which mainly came from West Africa. They often sang together as they worked, using a call and response technique, and sang about their problems (i.e. torn from family, middle passage, etc.)

  3. 3. The slaves used their bodies as drums because their masters outlawed real drums. They also made creative instruments 4. Blues turned into Gospel at African-American churches.

  4. Big Bill Broonzy

  5. II. The Great Migration • Many former slave families left the south in the Post WWI era. They were looking for less Racism but mainly the new manufacturing jobs the northern cities had to offer. • Chicago was a primary location – a.k.a. “The Home of the Electric Blues” • a. Artists include Big Bill Broonzy , Muddy Waters, Willie Dixon, Tampa Red, Sleepy John Estes, Sonny Boy Williamson • Initially they played country Blues, then they sang about their problems in the cities • Willie Dixon “You Shook Me” • Led Zepplin "You Shook Me"

  6. 4. Migration of many Blacks to Northern cities continued through the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s; many looking for work in factories designed for wartime production and because of the new mechanical cotton-pickers – inadvertently the blues becomes the music of blacks in cities 5. Statistics: African American Populations 1. Chicago 1910 – 40,000 Chicago 1930 – 234.000 2. Chicago: 1940-1944 50,000 Blacks leave Mississippi for Chicago 3. Chicago – 1940 – 1950 214,000 African Americans move

  7. “Sweet Home Chicago” Robert Johnson “SWEET HOME CHICAGO” performed by the Blues Brothers, 1980 Home of the Electric Blues

  8. 6. Many musicians played a type of Blues called ‘Delta Blues’ - coming from the Mississippi Delta region – one of them Robert Johnson is considered the King of the Delta Blues

  9. III. Chicago Rhythm and Blues A.     A. Muddy Waters 1. From Clarksdale, Mississippi sold his last horse to buy a Guitar from Sears for $2.50 2. Lived as a tenant farmer and musician in MS until 1943 when he moved to Chicago

  10. 3. Worked in a paper container factory by day and as a musician at night 4. Bought an electric guitar/amplifier in 1944, which he purchased to project his music over the crowds at the clubs he was playing. 5. The ‘newer’ electric blues was accompanied by optimism felt by many African Americans after World War II. They were happy to Not be in the south where Racism still flourished. See the Senatorial Elections of 1946. Red = New Republican States Pink = Old Republican States Turquoise = Democratic Sates

  11. B. Record Companies, Racism and American Culture 1. America in the first half of the 20th Century was still a very racially divided society. Although blacks were freed and legally equal to white-Americans, it was rare that the two races mixed. 2. As a result two major things happened both of which were controlled by record industry executives: a.       a. In the 1920’s and 30s, race records Q were produced by mainly independent companies for exclusive sale to a particular audience (ethnic or racial). The major labels wanted nothing to do with selling black music to white audiences

  12. b. In the 1950s white artists ‘covered’ (this means stole or copied) black musician’s music giving no credit or money to the original artist. 3. If you were white in America in this time period you had no idea this music existed unless you saw it for yourself, which you wouldn’t because races didn’t mix in public C. Chester (Howlin’ Wolf) Burnett Smokestack Lightning 1. Born in Ruleville, Mississippi learned music from a white yodeler/plantation worker 2. Became a DJ at a local radio station 3. In 1952 moved to Chicago 4. Initially lived with Muddy Waters and later became his biggest competitor 5. Not only did Wolf play music, he was an energetic performer on stage. The Grateful Dead-”Smokestack Lightning

  13.      D. Riley “Blues Boy” King, Elmore James, and John Lee Hooker 1. Born in Mississippi, worked on a cotton plantations, influenced by share-cropper songs 2. Each had successful careers and brought the pain and suffering felt by Southern African-Americans to the stage. 3. Incredibly talented guitar players and songwriters BB King John Lee Hooker: Boom boom ELMORE JAMES

  14.     E. Fats Domino 1. Born in New Orleans and played piano from age 9 2. Recorded 43 Top selling records in his career • Born 1928 • 36 #1 hits, sold 65 million records • French was first language, from New Orleans • Very long career; 1940s- 1960s

  15.    F. Chess Records 1. Founded in Chicago by two Polish immigrant club owners, Phil and Leonard Chess, went on to find and produce records for a number of memorable artist such as Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters, Willie Dixon, Bo Diddley, Little Walter, Sonny Boy Williamson, John Lee Hooker, Chuck Berry, Etta James, each having successful selling records 2. The Chess brothers oversaw and encouraged a drastic change in the characteristics of the Blues band. No more horns and piano, guitars, harmonicas and vocals became the electric blues sound then called Rhythm and Blues 3. Today all Chess recordings are owned by MCA Records and are released occasionally 4. Chess Brothers also owned upscale clubs in Chicago 5. More concerned with documenting sound, not changing it Leonard Chess Phil Chess

  16. Other Independent Record Labels 1. Mainly in cities with large African-American populations 2. Started mainly by Jewish immigrants because of the status in white America and their location in poor urban areas 3. King, Savoy Records, Old Town Records, Modern Records, Imperial Records, Alladin Records, etc 4. While there were big Record companies, they rarely involved themselves in selling R & B for racial reasons. Entrepreneurs produced 92% of all R&B records.

  17. III. The R & B Market A.     A. Segregation • 1. African Americans were not usually allowed into white venues or nightclubs, not even to see black musicians. • 2. Most blacks were forced to buy records to listen to at home driving up record sales for Small independent labels and black artists • 3. In some cities there were black only clubs like the Apollo Theater in New York City • 4. Most would not listen to country music • 5. R & B was distributed to blacks only in black area, they received little to no radio play

  18. B. Desegregation and Rock and Roll 1.As more whites began to get exposed to the soulful sometimes angry sounds of R & B, they began to buy these records, usually teenagers and college students 2.Whites began to show up at venues to see their favorite black musicians play and perform • IV. From R & B to Rock and Roll • A.Defined: R & B is essentially race music which was unpopular to say after World War II • B.Take away the race issue and combine it with a back beat, the music is called Rock and Roll • C.The initial Blues artists were getting slightly older and the younger white crowd needed artists they could identify with the first two Rock and Roll Artists were…

  19. A.    D. Little Richard 1. Born in Macon, Georgia, grew up singing gospel in Baptist Churches across the south 2. Recorded his first record in 1951 featuring blues and boogie-woogie (or faster blues) 3. Father was murdered in 1952 so Little Richard washed dishes to make ends meet 4. Changed his hair to pompadour style and wore more cutting-edge clothing, earrings and make-up in 1953 5. Black audience did not respond to his wild-style or fast-tempo blues 6. Recorded with Specialty records out of California in 1955 when he first recorded “Tutti Frutti,” which sold over 200,000 copies in 10 days

  20. Additional Little Richard Facts • Not really sure how old he is • Learned piano in Church • Left home because of possible homosexuality; 1 • or 12 children • First recorded and played with Fats Domino • Originally no market for records because of his • flamboyancy • Original words for Tutti Frutti are ‘white-washed’ • because they are too explicit • He becomes a novelty act and hugely successful • between 1955 – 1958 • He got religion when he was on tour so removed • himself from Rock and Roll business (he was also • being exploited by white-run recording companies) • From 1957-1964 goes back and forth between God and Rock scene


  22. A.     E. Chuck Berry 1. Grew up in the middle-class outskirts of St. Louis, Missouri, singing gospel 2. Influenced by gospel and country music and the blues3. Went to reform school and worked various odd jobs, got his first electric guitar in the early 1950s4. Moved to Chicago in 1955 and was introduced to the Chess brothers by Muddy Waters5. His first recording was “Ida Mae” which he renamed “Maybelline.” This song was a mix of country and R &B which influenced Rockabilly, a style of music Elvis made famous6. He became a sensation overnight and toured the U.S. passionately playing 101 gigs in 101 nights7. Berry and Richard became the icons of the new style of Rock and Roll

  23. Additional Chuck Berry Facts • born in 1926 in Cali • Was arrested for stealing guitars • Opened a club in St. Louis in 1959 which played a variety of music from R & B to country • Was arrested under the Mann Act for transporting a minor across state lines. He brought a young girl from AZ to St. Louis to be in act at club. She happened to be a prostitute • Went to prison 1962- 1963 • His 4 bar guitar intros become the Rock and Roll standard • Bridges gap between generations and races by making music that is ‘clean’ and rebellious • Stage presence with Duck Walk Maybellene Bruce Springsteen on Chuck Berry