Though the late ‘60s were exciting, as prolific blues-rock bands turned out gem after gem, the blues suffered its worst hangover in the decade that followed. With the rise of glam rock, country rock, and progressive rock on the white side, and funk and later disco on the black side, the blues suddenly sounded irrelevant to pop music fans. Sales of blues records plummeted, blues heroes like Howlin’ Wolf, Jimi Hendrix, and Magic Sam passed on, and a general lack of up-and-coming talent put the blues on the sidelines for most of the Seventies. Still, the blues survived. A young blues fan, Bruce Iglauer, started Alligator Records in Chicago, and sold the records he made out of the trunk of his car. Johnny Winter made some of the best blues records in Muddy Waters’ post-Chess period, while down South on the Chitlin’ Circuit, blues artists went back to entertaining black audiences, avoiding the sound of ‘60s blues-rock and focusing in on Southern fried blues that was greasy and steamy. In this episode the business of the blues, as well as its shifting demographic is explained through the insight of blues experts like Jim O’Neal, Mary Katherine Aldin, and Lawrence Cohn. Artist interviewees include Bobby Rush, Koko Taylor, and B.B. King.
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