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Blues Music in the Sixties

A Story in Black and White

Ulrich Adelt

Publication Year: 2010

In the 1960s, within the larger context of the civil rights movement and the burgeoning counterculture, the blues changed from black to white in its production and reception, as audiences became increasingly white. Yet, while this was happening, blackness-especially black masculinity-remained a marker of authenticity. Blues Music in the Sixties discusses these developments, including the international aspects of the blues. It highlights the performers and venues that represented changing racial politics and addresses the impact and involvement of audiences and cultural brokers.

Published by: Rutgers University Press


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pp. v

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pp. vii-viii

First of all, I want to thank God for getting me through the challenging but also rewarding time of writing this book. I also want to thank my wife, Ursula, and my three daughters, Maya, Luna, and Stella, who supported me and showed me there is more to life than reading books and listening to dusty records. ...

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pp. 1-12

The two positions presented here, different as they may be, demonstrate the somewhat limited degree to which blues scholarship has been involved in a discussion of the music’s racial politics. Both the all-inclusive definition of the blues represented in the first quotation and the essentialist view of the genre as an exclusively black music represented in the second ...

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1. Being Black Twice: Crossover Politics in B.B. King's Music of the Late 1960s

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pp. 13-29

On July 29, 1969, Rolling Stone magazine ran an ad for Live and Well, the latest recording of the blues singer and guitarist B. B. King, as well as for his appearance at the Fillmore West in San Francisco on six different dates. “Pop! goes the King,” the ad proclaimed in big letters.1 ...

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2. Like I Was a Bear or Somethin': Blues Performances at the Newport Folk Festival

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pp. 30-56

In 1960, when the folk revival was just beginning to gather momentum, blues singer Muddy Waters appeared with his band at the Newport Jazz Festival. In an attempt to revitalize his career, Waters had just put out an album of songs associated with folk blues singer Big Bill Broonzy, but at Newport he played a rather raucous set of electric blues, ...

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3. Trying to Find an Identity: Eric Clapton's Changing Conception of Blackness

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pp. 57-77

When the world-famous blues guitarist Eric Clapton stumbled onstage in Birmingham, England, on August 5, 1976, and announced his support for the anti-immigration campaign of British politician Enoch Powell, many of his fans were outraged. How could a white musician who had been making his living playing black music for more than a decade endorse racist politics? ...

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4. Germany Gets the Blues: Race and Nation at the American Folk Blues Festival

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pp. 78-97

In June of 1966, Ebony magazine published an article about the blues performer Memphis Slim and his life as an expatriate in Paris. After touring Europe with the American Folk Blues Festival in 1962, the singer and pianist had decided to stay in France. Whereas in Chicago his payment had been “rent money and grits,” ...

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5. Enough to Make You Want to Sing the Blues: Janis Joplin's Life and Music

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pp. 98-113

In her appearance on the Dick Cavett Show in June 1970, blues-rock singer Janis Joplin announced her decision to attend her high school reunion in Port Arthur, Texas, the following August. Arriving with her entourage and media representatives from all over the United States, ...

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6. Resegregating the Blues: Race and Authenticity in the Pages of Living Blues

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pp. 114-134

In February of 1969, white blues guitarist Johnny Winter signed with Columbia Records for an unprecedented advance of three hundred thousand dollars. Three months later, Rolling Stone magazine ran an ad for Winter’s first Columbia album in which the albino musician appeared as “a white flame ignited by black blues.”1 ...

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pp. 135-140

When Republican George H. W. Bush was inaugurated as the forty-first U.S. president in January of 1989, the festivities ended with a nearly four-hour-long rhythm and blues show at the Washington Convention Center. Bush’s campaign manager Lee Atwater conceived the concert, ...


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pp. 141-170

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pp. 171-178


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pp. 179-182


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pp. 183-192

E-ISBN-13: 9780813549484
E-ISBN-10: 0813549485
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813547503
Print-ISBN-10: 0813547504

Page Count: 204
Illustrations: 9 photographs
Publication Year: 2010