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2019 Fall Class
The Golden Years of Rhythm & Blues
Instructor: Frank Johnson
Tuesdays • 9/17-11/5 • 10:15AM-12:15PM • 8 classes
Class size 8 to 26 students
18 seats remaining
Location: Jewett 293
From 1946 to 1959 Rhythm & Blues dominated black American popular music. Rooted in blues, jazz and gospel the golden years of rhythm and blues spawned early rock ‘n roll and soul music. Honking tenor sax, stinging guitar licks and pulsating boogie woogie piano provided the accompaniment for blues shouters, and harmonizing vocal groups. Our survey will examine the popular and influential bandleaders like Louis Jordan, Jimmy Liggins and Roy Milton. We will listen to vocalists Big Joe Turner, Wynonie Harris, Little Willie John, Eddie “Cleanhead” Vinson, Lavern Baker, Ruth Brown, Julia Lee, and many more. The contributions of singer/guitarists T-Bone Walker, B. B. King, Pee Wee Crayton and others will be explored as well as pioneering vocal groups – the Dominoes, the Orioles, the Clovers, and the Drifters. The course will also consider the pianists/singers Amos Milburn, Memphis Slim, Ray Charles, among others.
Post-war rhythm and blues music revolutionized American popular music as it pushed the color line with the high-energy sounds calling to let the good times roll.Classroom
The Band Leaders – Louis Jordan, Roy Milton, Tiny Bradshaw, Jimmy Liggins, Joe Liggins, Bull Moose Jackson, Lucky Millinder, Tiny Grimes, Johnny Otis, Louis Prima.
Blues Shouters – Roy Brown, Wynonie Harris, Big Joe Turner, Eddie “Cleanhead” Vinson, Smilin’ Smokey Lynn, Smiley Lewis
Female Singers – Julia Lee, Ruth Brown, Faye Adams, Nellie Lutcher, Esther Phillips, Lavern Baker, Dinah Washington, Wynona Carr, Ella Johnson, Etta James
Honkers & Boogie Woogie Pianists – Joe Houston, Doc Sausage, Nelson Alexander, Llyod Glenn, Hadda Brooks, Cecil Gant, Camille Howard, Willard McDaniel, Panama Francis, Cozy Eggleston, Fats Noel, Hal Singer, Earl Bostic, Bill Doggett, Paul Gayten, Dave Bartholomew, the Royal Kings, Lee Allen, Big Jay McNeely
Vocalists/Pianists – Charles Brown, Amos Milburn, Floyd Dixon, Little Willie Littlefield, Roy Hawkins, Willie Mabon, Jesse Belvin, Ivory Joe Hunter, Memphis Slim, Jimmy McCraklin, Professor Longhair, Ray Charles, Huey Piano Smith, Little Richard
Vocal Groups – the Ravens, the Orioles, the Clovers, the Five Royales, the Dominoes, the Robins, the Cadillacs, Hank Ballard & the Midnighters, the Drifters, the Spiders, Don & Dewey, the Flamingos, the Coasters
Guitar Slingers – Pee Wee Crayton, Goree Carter, Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown, T-Bone Walker, Lowell Fulson, B.B. King, Johnny “Guitar” Watson, Ike Turner, Lafayette Thomas, Chuck Berry
Male Singers – Stick McGhee, Jackie Brenston, Lloyd Price, Sonny Parker, Bobby Bland, Little Willie John, Nappy Brown, Thurston Harris, Johnny Ace, Clyde McPhatter, Chuck Willis, James Brown, Jackie Wilson, Sam Cooke, Frankie Ford
Frank Johnson has a lifelong passion and interest in African-American music: jazz, blues, rhythm & blues, soul, and Afro-Latin. He has a collection of over 4,000 albums covering these genres. In addition, he has a personal library of over 250 books on African-American musical styles, musicians and cultural influences. Frank is a graduate of University of Maine with a degree in Political Science and Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government Program for Senior Executives of State and Local Government.