The blues revival
Throughout the 1960s, acoustic blues enjoyed a revival through its growing appreciation by the middle-class college crowd. By the late 1960s, blues in general, and blues-based rock, was enjoying an even greater popularity. Artists like B. B. King, Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton were at the height of their success, and many 2nd generation British blues-based rock bands like Led Zeppelin and Free began to be formed. By 1968, psychedelia was slowly on its way out and straight rock and blues-based rock was back in, as witnessed by albums such as the Beatles' White Album and the Stones' Beggars Banquet.
Some artists, like Taj Mahal, made a career out re-creating and developing
old blues forms. Keith's new appreciation of the guitar and exploration
of traditional, acoustic blues and country in 1968, and its impact on the
next Stones' albums, was part and parcel of this whole atmosphere.
RY COODER (1947- )
Cooder has mostly made a career for himself out of making film soundtracks through his incredible talent at slide guitar playing. Born in Los Angeles, Cooder hung out for a while musically with Taj Mahal in the mid-'60s, exploring blues and country roots music. In 1968, he was one of the musicians, along with Mahal and Gram Parsons, who hung out with the Stones. Cooder played on some Stones recordings, but perhaps even more significantly he was the person who turned Keith onto the open G recording.
(T)hen Ry Cooder popped in, who had the tunings down. He had the open G. By then I was working on open E and open D shit. I was trying to figure out Fred McDowell shit, Blind Willie McTell stuff.
TAJ MAHAL (1942- )
Born in New York, Majal attended university before throwing himself into a music career. In the mid-'60s he formed a short-lived band with Ry Cooder and in 1968 started a successful solo career that is still going. Mahal's career has been one of a preservationist of roots music, primarily the blues but also other styles. The Stones met him while mixing Beggars Banquet in Los Angeles in 1968, and Mahal, like Gram Parsons, was instrumental in showing Keith some things about open tuning. The Stones later invited him that year to their Rock and Roll Circus Event, and 29 years later he was invited at the Stones' televised St. Louis concert in 1997 where they played Corinna from Mahal's 1968 album Natch'l Blues.
Around 1967, I was just starting to hang out with Taj Mahal and Gram Parsons, who are all students too. I mean, Taj, as beautiful as he is, is a student who basically approaches the blues from a white man's angle. He's got it all together, and always did have. But at the same time, he came from that angle. He's very academic about it. He showed me a couple of things.
JOHNNY WINTER (1944- )
Born in Mississippi but moving early on to Texas, Winter has virtually defined modern Texas electric blues and blues rock. A virtuoso guitarist, he released his debut album in 1969 and immediately found success, becoming one of the most popular blues rock artists of the 1970s. During that decade he also produced albums for Muddy Waters and played with him. He still performs and releases records today.
The Stones opened their 1969 Hyde Park concert with a song from Winter's just-released debut album, I'm Yours and I'm Hers. Winter went on to cover Jumpin' Jack Flash.
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