March 16, 2021

S1E4 The Blues Rocks


The blues, like country and soul, is one of the cornerstones of rock music. Even the term “rock and roll” was blues slang for sex. Beyond being an inspiration and influence on rock, many artists have merged traditional delta and Chicago blues with a rock and roll beat. The result is blues rock.

Bands like Cream, Traffic, and and Blind Faith dominated the charts in the late 1960s. They also spawned a number of classic genres such as hard rock and southern rock. Blues rock is not only a genre of rock music; It’s also a foundation for much of what we think of as classic rock.

What is Led Zeppeiln if not a blues rock band, just louder and faster. Songs such as “The Lemon Song”, “Heartbreaker”, and “When the Levee Breaks” are straight ahead blues rock, dripping with traditional blues licks. Similarly, The Allman Brothers, darlings of the southern rock crowd, are known for their blues rock songs such as “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed” or, especially, “Whipping Post”. They successfully merged blues with country and rock to set the stage for southern rock.

Blues Rock lost it’s luster, except as classic rock,in the 80s and so had to hide out in other genres. What would have been typical blues rock in the 80s or 90s were usually classified as traditional blues and rock. Artists such as Bonnie Raitt, Blues Traveler, and the Black Crowes, kept blues rock alive through these dark times but were rarely identified as blues rock.

It was a good thing they did though. We now are experiencing a resurgence in blues rock of all types. Some artists are creating music in the 60s blues rock style such as Gary Clark Jr. Others such as Greta Van Fleet, Yola, and Tedeschi-Trucks have held the torch for Zeppelinesque hard rock and countrified southern blues rock.

My latest podcast, The Blues Rocks, examines the history of blues rock and talks about some of the artists that are carrying on this important rock tradition. You can find it on Anchor and Spotify as well as a playlist of blues rock (and some blues) artists, also on Spotify.