How the Blues Shaped Rock ’n’ Roll (and Rock Saved the Blues)
The blues revival of the early 1960s brought new life to a seminal genre of American music and inspired a vast new world of singers, songwriters, and rock bands. The Rolling Stones took their name from a Muddy Waters song; Led Zeppelin forged bluesy riffs into hard rock and heavy metal; and ZZ Top did superstar business with boogie rhythms copped from John Lee Hooker. Crossroads tells the myriad stories of the impact and enduring influence of the early-’60s blues revival: stories of the record collectors, folkies, beatniks, and pop culture academics; and of the lucky musicians who learned life-changing lessons from the rediscovered Depression-era bluesmen that found hipster renown by playing at coffeehouses, on college campuses, and at the Newport Folk Festival. The blues revival brought notice to these forgotten musicians, and none more so than Robert Johnson, who had his songs covered by Cream and the Rolling Stones, and who sold a million CDs sixty years after dying outside a Mississippi Delta roadhouse. Crossroads is the intersection of blues and rock ’n’ roll, a vivid portrait of the fluidity of American folk culture that captures the voices of musicians, promoters, fans, and critics to tell this very American story of how the blues came to rest at the heart of popular music.
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