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Transatlantic Blues: How Britain’s Blues Boom Saved American Rock And Roll

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    “The blues had a baby, and they named it rock and roll”

    – Muddy Waters and Sonny Terry

     

    Believe it or not, in the early 1960s British musicians helped save American blues and rock and roll. In its earliest incarnation, rock and roll had brought the meteoric rise of Bill Haley & The Comets, Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Buddy Holly, and other movers and shakers. Their music was raucous, thrilling, and seemingly unstoppable, but the initial ride was short-lived. By the late 1950s, Haley was washed up. Elvis was in the army. Chuck Berry was in jail. Little Richard had abandoned rock to preach the gospel, and Buddy Holly was dead. Payola scandals had ended the careers of Alan Freed and other seminal DJs. Fundamentalist preachers were publicly burning records that, they rabidly frothed, brought white youths “down to the level of the Negro.” As a result, American rock and roll was nearly sanitized to death. Continue reading

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