The History of the Blues

Timeline created by JRose03
In Music
  • Juke Joints are Created

    Juke Joints are Created
    The Emancipation Proclamation initiates the start of sharecroppers and Juke Joints where African-Americans went to listen to music and gamble. In this setting spiritual songs left the group setting and moved to a more individualized performance. According to Lawrence Levine, there was a direct relationship between the national emphasis on individual, the popularity of Booker T. Washington's teachings and the rise of the Blues.
  • Slave Songs of the United States Published

    Slave Songs of the United States Published
    Three northern abolitionists publish a collection of 136 African-American songs sung by the slaves on the plantations. Most were spiritual. This was the first publication of spirituals and folk songs ever published and considered by many to be the most influential as well.
  • Period: to

    History of the Blues

    This timeline describes important events and identifies significant figures in the history of the Blues from slavery until the modern masters.
  • Dockery Farms Established

    Dockery Farms Established
    Will Dockery establishs the Dockery Farms cotton plantation and sawmill. Many farm worker and traveling musicians traveled through Dockery Farms learning the blues and taking what they learned with them including Son House, Willie Brown, Charley Patton, Henry Sloan and other musicians.
  • First Reports on Blues Music

    In the Deep South reporters first began reporting on the Blues. Jelly Roll Morton said that he first heard the Blues in 1902.
  • Camp Meeting Shouts

    Victor Records issues the first known recordings of African American field hollers called "Camp Meeting Shouts."
  • First Piece of Blues Music Published

    First Piece of Blues Music Published
    Antonio Maggio's "I Got the Blues" was the first piece of Blues Music published.
  • First Blues Sheet Music Published

    First Blues Sheet Music Published
    The first Blues songs are published as sheet music, including W.C. Handy's "Memphis Blues."
  • Exposure to the Blues

    Exposure to the Blues
    The United States enters World War I and the military and economic mobilization of African-Americans exposes American troops to Blues Music, causing what has been caused an explosion of the Blues.
  • Migration to the Urban Centers

    Migration to the Urban Centers
    African-Americans begin migrating out of the South into urban centers throughout the United States spreading what had been thought of as music of the rural Mississippi Delta. One influential musician who makes the move to Chicago was Big Bill Broonzy who was a key contributor to Chicago Blues.
  • Slide Guitar Style Arrives

    Sylvester Weaver from Kentucky is the first to record the style of the slide guitar using a knife or broken off bottle top as a slide on the guitar's fret board.
  • Arrival of Electrical Recording Technology

    Electrical recording technology is introduced to the music world which makes Blues Music available to a wider audience.
  • Huddie Ledbetter Introduces the Blues

    Huddie Ledbetter Introduces the Blues
    Huddie Ledbetter, also known as Lead Belly, is the first Blues musician to play Blues to a white audience outside of the South.
  • The Death of Robert Johnson

    The Death of Robert Johnson
    Robert Johnson, one of the most influential blues artists in history, who impacted the development of the genre, is poisoned while playing a gig outside Greenwood, Mississippi. The poison was put in his whiskey which he drank throughout the night. He died three days later at the age of 27.
  • Recording of the Electric Guitar

    Recording of the Electric Guitar
    The first recording of the electric guitar, created by George Beauchamp and Adolph Rickenbacher, is played by Eddie Durnham.
  • Muddy Waters

    Muddy Waters
    Muddy Waters rides a bus from Clarksdale, Mississippi to Chicago, Illinois. His trip, and the music he played during that trip, is recognized as the first step in the transition from rural, country blue to urban blues.
  • B.B. King

    B.B. King
    B.B. King has his first Rhythm and Blues hit with a version of the song "Three O'Clock Blues." B.B. King was one of the most influential blues guitarists. He was one of the artists that refined the new era of innovation electrifying Blues and influenced many musicians after him.
  • Modern Blues

    Modern Blues
    Muddy Waters, Howling Wolf, Big Mama Thornton, Lightning Hopkins and Jimmy Smith begin the modern Blues that is best known today.