Happy Birthday To Memphis Minnie & Jimmy Rogers
” Tracking down the ultimate woman blues guitar hero is problematic because woman blues singers seldom recorded as guitar players and woman guitar players (such as Rosetta Tharpe and Sister O.M. Terrell) were seldom recorded playing blues. Excluding contemporary artists, the most notable exception to this pattern was Memphis Minnie. The most popular and prolific blueswoman outside the vaudeville tradition, she earned the respect of critics, the support of record-buying fans, and the unqualified praise of the blues artists she worked with throughout her long career. Despite her Southern roots and popularity, she was as much a Chicago blues artist as anyone in her day. Big Bill Broonzy recalls her beating both him and Tampa Red in a guitar contest and claims she was the best woman guitarist he had ever heard. “ Continue reading
” Guitarist Jimmy Rogers was the last living connection to the groundbreaking first Chicago band of Muddy Waters (informally dubbed “the Headhunters” for their penchant of dropping by other musicians’ gigs and “cutting their heads” with a superior on-stage performance). Instead of basking in world-wide veneration, he was merely a well-respected Chicago elder boasting a seminal ’50s Chess Records catalog, both behind Waters and on his own.
Born James A. Lane (Rogers was his stepdad’s surname), the guitarist grew up all over: Mississippi, Atlanta, West Memphis, Memphis, and St. Louis. Actually, Rogers started out on harp as a teenager.Big Bill Broonzy, Joe Willie Wilkins, and Robert Jr. Lockwood all influenced him, the latter two when he passed through Helena. Rogers settled in Chicago during the early ’40s and began playing professionally around 1946, gigging with Sonny Boy Williamson, Sunnyland Slim, and Broonzy.
Rogers was playing harp with guitarist Blue Smitty when Muddy Waters joined them. When Smitty split, Little Walter was welcomed into the configuration, Rogers switched over to second guitar, and the entire post-war Chicago blues genre felt the stylistic earthquake that directly followed. Rogers made his recorded debut as a leader in 1947 for the tiny Ora-Nelle logo, then saw his efforts for Regal and Apollo go unissued.” Continue reading