Beale Street, formerly known as Beale Avenue was built in Memphis, Tennesee, and is now one of the most iocnic streets in America.
Black Codes Repealed
Sets of laws put in place from 1865-1866 following the Civil War, designed to oppress former slaves via thelaw and keeping in them jobs with low wages, therefoe keeping them in debt. These were repealed, and later followed by theJim Crow Laws. From the oppression caused by these laws stemmed more blues music.
In 1885, the 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution was ratified. Although this provided new freedoms for the former slaves, they faced many decades of hardships, and --not entirely beneficially-- new inspirations for their songs of heartbreak and hardships.
Jim Crow Laws
The Jim Crow Laws were put in place to segregate African Americans and white people, with a standard of "seperate but equal" resources put into place. The resources and utilities desginated to the African American people were still inferior, and the still faced serious oppression and discrimination in the workplace. Their miserbale circumstances inspired the blues music of their time.
Musician W.C. Handy moved to Beale St.
E.C. Crump runs for mayor
E.C. Crump ran for mayor and decided that votes from the black population would help him win, so he hired W.C. Handy to write a blues song called "Mr. Crump as part of his election campaign. The song would later be called "The Memphis Blues" and become a huge hit at the time. W.C. Handy also wrote "The St. Louis Blues" and "The Beale Street Blues" before he moved away from Memphis. Handy is now known as "The Father of Blues", because of his massive success, although he didn't create it.
Recording in Memphis
Although some recordings of blues songs were recorded in memphis, most recordings were done farther north.
In 1920, prohibition, the ban on alcohol was enacted. This prompted those willing to brea kthe law to open speakeasies, or bars that secretly served alchohol. Bluesmen played in the speakeasies to entertain those who were drinking.
Stock Market Crash
Black Tuesday, the day the stock market crashed became one of the main causes of the Great Depression. Those who were lucky enough to keep their jobs were still mostly poor. Everyone was trying their hardest to make it by, scraping up all their belongings and trying to sell them. Among these belongings were musical instruments. Despite the economic hardships, it seems that the blues lived on. Perhaps it's because the great depression was everything the blues artists were singing about.
After 13 years. the consumption and purchase of alcohol is legal again.
Radio Station WDIA
WDIA began broadcasting directly for the black community in Memphis and hired one of the first black disc jockeys, Nat D. Williams. The station hired additional DJ's and bands and artists to perform, but they later left the station as they became more successful. Among these artists were Rufus Thomas, and the Bobby Blue Band.
Chess Records is founded
The record label called Aristocrat was bought by the brothers Leonard and Phil Chess. The record label picked up many artists including Muddy Waters, Buddy Guy, Willie Dixon, and Chuck Berry. Chess Records soon became a record label that defined blues.
Sun Records is founded
The record label credited for 'discovering' Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash is founded in Memphis, Tennessee.
Rufus Thomas' First Hit
"Bear Cat" was recorded and released by Sun Records and was one of many of the label's hits written by its founder, Sam Phillips.
Elvis Presley's first blues single
Elvis Presley sings and records a song by Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup at Sun Records in Memphis, Tennessee.
The Rolling Stones
One of the most iconic blues bands of all time was formed in 1962, with influences from Muddy Waters and Chuck Berry, The Rolling Stones is still famous for their blues music.
Jim Crow Laws Repealed
Because of the efforts to smash segregation, Jim Crow Laws were repealed, but the fight for equality in America did not end there. African Americans still faced many difficulties, and still used their oppression as inspiration for blues music.
The Blues Hall of Fame
Robert Johnson, John Lee hooker, Willie Dixon, Howlin' Wolf, B.B. King, Little Walter, Sonny Boy Williamson (II) and (I), and Muddy Waters were the inaugural members to the Blues Hall of Fame in 1980.