There’s yes, really no critical answer to who the father of the blues is, back in a debatable method names such as W.C. Handy, Charley Patton, and also Lead Belly room worthy contenders.

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It’s also important to emphasis this question more, such as who invented the blues, who first wrote the blues on sheet music, and so on.

Diving into a myriad of a question

People are always wondering that the first to play the electrical guitar was, that the first guitarist to employ the tapping technique was, who created rock n’ roll, that was the greatest blues artist, and in this situation which artist was known as the dad of the blues. It’s certainly natural to wonder and fantasize around these “firsts”, of food it goes beyond music as well — who was the very first to to walk on the moon, etc. Too often though, the natural world doesn’t work-related within these straight line, 90 level frameworks. A newer synthetic city often has strict grid fads of roads, all partitioned neatly in human, limited angles; whereas, a large river or mountain regions flow in these fractal-like, unpredictable patterns; one flow branches indigenous another, branching into 7 others, practically indefinitely.


So the is with starters in terms of music. Pinpointing a true dad of the blues, such a broad question have the right to be split into three sub-questions. Who created the blues, who very first notated the blues, and also who is the most influential.Usually,one the these 3 sub-questions is yes, really what people wonder once they ask who the father of the blues was.

Who designed the blues?

Tackling very first who invented or began the blues, here’s one answer: no one. For instance, Jelly role Morton, command Belly, W.C. Handy, and also Ma Rainey (each considered iconic pioneers in their own right) all recalled hearing what lock later interpreted as “the blues” approximately 1900, before common recording an innovation existed. To it is in exact, some allude to 1901, others allude to 1902, and also so on. Currently surely if they first heard the blues approximately this time, it’s reasonable come guess the it had actually actually been about for at least a year or two more. If that’s the case, the blues to be quite possibly in formation well prior to 1900. In truth, and returning to the fractal case, blues is often said to it is in a melange the African-American spirituals, folk music such as occupational songs, and also older musical traditions, which irregularly created branch through branch over a span of time.

To say it one more way, fairly than gift a inquiry of “the chicken or the egg”, it to be probably rather a slow-moving morphing of past creatures which end time became what we call today a chicken. This is a hard pill come swallow in a way because us people with ours 90 level angles want a definitive answer — who developed the blues?! (And who as such can be crowned father of the blues?!) yet instead we’ll need to answer it v an unstable, vacuum of an answer once more: nobody!

Who first notated the blues?

If by asking, i beg your pardon artist is known as blues’ father, civilization mean come ask, who very first notated the blues? Then, this is much an ext black and also white question. W.C. Handy is generally welcomed as being the very first to create the blues down, v his landmark Dallas Blues (1912) and also Saint louis Blues (1914), capturing the 12 bar structure so renowned today. Often, and bringing ago that subject of the “inventor” of the blues, W.C. Comfortable is then mistaken together being the inventor the the blues, yet again this is fairly straight-forward come debunk due to the fact that of all those names favor Jelly Roll competed they’d heard the blues before Handy.


On peak of that, Lead belly mentions on among his Lomax interviews the he’d heard Saint luigi Blues years prior to knowing W.C. Handy’s name. The being said, W.C. Handy definitely marks his place in the annals the music history for his significant step forward.

Who’s the most significant blues artist?

Now, jumping come the “father the the blues” together it involves the most influential blues artist, this is likewise a doable one to shotgun part answers. It’s no a topic v a definitive answer that course, however one which stokes great conversation and debate. Return to the parallel of branches, and how every artists, quite than being “0-1” inventors that wholly brand-new ideas, areinstead contributors that a better whole, here are part artists who added especially significant branches, off of which other musicians to be able to develop their branches (aka, their contributions).


For example, in rock guitar, Jimi Hendrix wasn’t a complete alien through entirely brand-new concepts; he obtained from Pete Townshend’s on-stage antics, the amalgamated BB King’s licks v others’ licks, he wrote lyrics influenced by Bob Dylan. So, the was simply a branch turn off of the larger tree of music. However, his branch to be an enormously far-reaching branch, and one which permitted others to branch from, including Stevie ray Vaughan, Jimmy Page, Eddie van Halen, and also so on. Here are part such branches in terms of beforehand blues.

Charley Patton

Many would suggest to Charley Patton as a father of the blues, even a patriarch that the blues. Marking his influence as a genuine “touring” individual artist, he was distinct for his time in the he actually was relatively well-known, a “robin-hood” kind of figure, known to locals, playing reflects as much as Chicago and new York City.

Although, his main region of playing in assorted Mississippi areas. People allude to Patton as the blues’ prominent father because he to be a crucial mentor to so many blues musicians that followed, consisting of Son House, Willie Brown, Robert Johnson, Howlin’ Wolf, and also Bukka White. In various other words, had Charley Patton not set his example of gift a functioning artist, those various other musicians might not have actually taken their course therefore strongly, which would’ve hugely influenced the course of 20th century American music come come.

Lead Belly

Another notable father of the blues is the male who to be allegedly shot in the stomach through a shotgun and outran a team of prison bloodhounds come escape native jail.


Truly, command Belly live the Hollywood life that a bluesman, relocating from city to city — sometimes using pseudonyms — to beat jail, and collecting piles upon piles that songs like jewels i beg your pardon he’d document en masse end the years. Being so prominent early on on, born approximately that same early on time like Charley Patton, command Belly has a strong claim to being the father of the blues. One aspect of command Belly, though, is the he’s often considered to have covered more than just the blues (in the technical 12 Bar Blues sense), with many of his famed songs being individual songs together as residence of the rising Sun, black color Betty, and Midnight Special. Still, gift a close girlfriend of remote Lemon Jefferson’s and having remarkable facility on his Stella 12 String to play that full, down-home blues, command Belly deserve to still be considered a dad of the blues.

Robert Johnson

Many “meta” pre-war blues fans may compete with Robert Johnson being named father of the blues; this can sound contradictory since Johnson is quickly the most well known bluesman the the pre-war period.

However, due to the fact that he’s the many commercially well-known of this cohort (perhaps various other than Muddy Waters), niche listeners may often say the the hype and the true donation of Johnson space out the sync. And, with the challenge of separating the commerial exaggeration from the real substance of his recordings, they frequently leave him as an outlier in the discussion. Is there value to this point of view?Potentially, however Johnson surely was without doubt a true blue contributor; in various other words, the hype is valid. Contrary to Keith Richards and Eric Clapton’s praise of Johnson together an untouchable guitar genius,this is wherein it’s overhyped. His slide play was not even close come being together masterful together Blind Willie Johnson, his fingerstyle prowess was nowhere near that of blind Blake, and many that his classic licks were straightaway adapted from Son home songs, amongst other precursors of his. But, Johnson played with an inimitable flair and style — the pre-Rock n’ roll bohemian non-chalance and also sexuality, as well as really cultivating the hell / adversary aesthetic together his own. To add his edgy type of playing was certainly excellent; this can’t it is in denied. Although that didn’t necessarily complement the raw technological abilities of several of his predecessors, his recordings resulted in such a stir, forever veering the course of 20th century music in a new direction, the his affect inevitably calls for the concern of if he’s the dad of the blues, regardless and even in full acknowledgement that his hype.

Muddy Waters

A distinctive figure in blues is Muddy Waters. Most of the feasible fathers that the blues questioned here have actually been pre-war players, which provides sense since, despite “father” being complicated to define, surely there’s very early influencer element to it.


Although Muddy Waters was both; he started his playing in the pre-war style, all acoustic and also even employing blind Willie Johnson-like bottleneck play in his early recordings, every the means to pioneering the electric blues Chicago layout in the 1950s. By being so steady rooted in traditional, at an early stage blues playing, and also being not just present but extremely impactful to so countless of the future generation that musicians, Muddy’s affect was quite broad. From chuck Berry, to tiny Walter, to the rolling Stones, Muddy instigated so many movements along the significant junction clues of music that he could additionally be considered a dad of the blues. The course, his style, prefer Johnson and Lead Belly, was fairly unique. A full-on womanizer, through a leading presence according to those who remember him, and a standard Telecaster sound, with “cat-growl”-like on slide licks.

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Tying up the discussion’s loosened ends

In summary, there are a few different methods a “father” that the blues deserve to be interpreted. Maybe when human being ask i m sorry artist was recognized as blues’ father, they typical in terms of who designed the blues, who an initial notated the blues, or who was the most prominent blues artists. Come answer these questions, no single person created the blues, W.C. Handy was more than likely the very first to notate the blues, and the most influential blues artist is fairly debatable however probably consists of names prefer Patton, command Belly, Robert Johnson, and also Muddy Waters; the answer to this last concern sways with each person’s an individual slant.