The British Blues Boom of the 1960's

The British Blues Boom of the 1960’s was a cultural phenomenon unique to the music scene in London in the mid 1960’s.

Bands John Mayall's Bluesbreakers The Yardbirds Cream Led Zeppelin Alexis Korner’s Blues Incorporated Fleetwood Mac Eric Clapton Peter Green Mick Fleetwood John McVie Eric Clapton Jeff Beck Jimmy Page Eric Clapton Jack Bruce Ginger Baker Jimmy Page Robert Plant John Paul Jones John Bonham Mick Jagger Keith Richards Brian Jones Charlie Watts Mick Taylor Jack Bruce Ginger Baker Andy Fraser Peter Green Mick Fleetwood John McVie Jeremy Spencer Danny Kirwan Cream Fleetwood Mac Fleetwood Mac Fleetwood Mac John Mayall's Bluesbreakers The Jeff Beck Group Led Zeppelin Blind Faith BBM Blind Faith The Rolling Stones The Rolling Stones The Rolling Stones The Rolling Stones The Rolling Stones Cream Cream Free

It happened for two main reasons…

The two bandleaders, with their bands Alexis Corner’s Blues incorporated and John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, provided a musical academy for the up-and-coming talent. Some of the greatest names in music featured in their ever-changing lineups; Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck – see the infographic for the band’s family trees.

The Start of the Blues Boom

Alexis Corner opened the London Blues and Barrelhouse Club in 1957 at the Roundhouse pub, Wardour Street, Soho. Soon, the Ealing club in West London was also the epicenter of the movement. As was the Marquee club in Soho later.

Up until the early sixties what little British blues there was, was acoustic. Guitar technology was improving, and most pop bands were guitar bands by the early sixties. In 1958, Chicago bluesman Muddy Waters toured the UK and wowed British audiences by playing amplified electric blues. There would be no going back and it was no coincidence the greatest guitarists of the day used this period to hone their art before going on to international recognition.

A Renaissance in Blues music

How did the American blues artists whose songs were being played feel about this? In today’s parlance it might be classed as appropriation but back then the Bluesmen welcomed it with open arms. The blues had been having a hiatus for a decade and times were tough for blues musicians. Suddenly white pop bands with enormous followings like the Rolling Stones were covering their material. A whole new generation was discovering their music.

Ironically neither Alexis Corner nor John Mayall found commercial success like their protégés but amongst those who know they garner ultimate respect.

The blues boom was short-lived with most of the bands morphing into rock and even metal bands by the late 60’s, but it was a crucial moment in the evolution of popular music.

play 'The Story of The Blues'
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