John Lee Hooker (August 22, 1917 – June 21, 2001) was an American blues singer-songwriter and guitarist, born near Clarksdale, Mississippi. Hooker began his life as the son of a sharecropper, William Hooker, and rose to prominence performing his own unique style of what was originally closest to Delta blues. He developed a 'talking blues' style that was his trademark. Though similar to the early Delta blues, his music was metrically free. John Lee Hooker could be said to embody his own unique genre of the blues, often incorporating the boogie-woogie piano style and a driving rhythm into his masterful and idiosyncratic blues guitar and singing. His best known songs include "Boogie Chillen'" (1948) and "Boom Boom" (1962). (more)
Portal:Blues/Selected biography/2 Freddie King (September 3, 1934 - December 28, 1976)--born Frederick Christian, originally recorded as Freddy King, and nicknamed "the Texas Cannonball"--was an influential African-American blues guitarist and singer. Often seen mentioned as one of "the Three Kings" of electric blues guitar--with the much longer-living Albert King and B.B. King--Freddie had a very creative, catchy guitar style, which was put to excellent use both in the hooks he wrote for his many classic instrumental tracks and in the licks he came up with in his piercing yet funky guitar solos. (more)
Bessie Smith (April 15, 1894 – September 26, 1937) was an American blues singer. Sometimes referred to as "The Empress of the Blues," Smith was the most popular female blues singer of the 1920s and 1930s. She is often regarded as one of the greatest singers of her era and, along with Louis Armstrong, a major influence on subsequent jazz vocalists. (more)
Huddie William Ledbetter (January 1888 – December 6, 1949) was an iconic American folk and blues musician, notable for his strong vocals, his virtuosity on the 12-string guitar, and the songbook of folk standards he introduced. He is best known as Leadbelly or Lead Belly.
Although he most commonly played the twelve string, he could also play the piano, mandolin, harmonica, violin, concertina, and accordion. In some of his recordings, such as in one of his versions of the folk ballad "John Hardy", he performs on the accordion instead of the guitar. In other recordings he just sings while clapping his hands or stomping his foot. The topics of Lead Belly's music covered a wide range of subjects, including gospel songs; blues songs about women, liquor and racism; and folk songs about cowboys, prison, work, sailors, cattle herding and dancing. He also wrote songs concerning the newsmakers of the day, such as President Franklin Roosevelt, Adolf Hitler, Jean Harlow, the Scottsboro Boys, and Howard Hughes. (more)