The Delta Blues is one the earliest and most influential forms of music created in the United States. It is similar to other styles of blues, but what makes it different is bottleneck slide guitars and heavy emphasis on rhythm.
The first recordings of it came from the 1920’s but the Delta Blues had been around for many years before. Most of the early recordings feature a single person singing and playing guitar, but when performed live, full bands were commonly used. The name comes from the region from which the music originated: the Mississippi Delta, which is known its fertile soil and extreme poverty. Here are a couple of my artists of the Delta Blues.
1. Howlin' Wolf
Howlin' Wolf is more associated with the Chicago Blues, but his roots come from the Delta Blues. He started playing music after being inspired by artists like Charley [sic] Patton and Tommy Johnson. In the 1950's, he had four songs in the Billboard national R&B top 50. He and Muddy Waters both recorded for Chess Records, and are regarded are two of the greatest blues artists of all time. Many influential and popular artists of the 60's and 70's covered Howlin' Wolf songs such as Eric Clapton, the Doors, and the Rolling Stones.
2. Muddy Waters
Known as the father of the Chicago blues, Muddy Waters was born in the Mississippi Delta and started playing music there until he moved to Chicago in the mid-40's. He is one of the most influential artists of all time. He helped Chuck Berry get his first record deal and influenced many popular bands and artists, including The Rolling Stones (who named themselves after his song "Rollin Stone"), Bob Dylan, AC/DC, Led Zeppelin, Jeff Beck, Jimi Hendrix, and the Allman Brothers.
3. Charley Patton
One of the founding fathers of the Delta Blues, Patton lived most of his childhood and early adulthood working on a plantation. Patton later spent his time traveling around the Delta and performing at various plantations. He is known for being quite a showman playing his guitar on his knees or behind his head or back.
4. Lead Belly
Lead Belly is one of most controversial and versatile artists of the Delta Blues. He usually played guitar but could also play piano, mandolin, accordion, harmonica, and utilized stomping and clapping in many of his songs. Lead Belly is also known for his multiple prison sentences, one for which he was pardoned by Senator Pat Morris Neff after writing a song for him.
5. Robert Johnson
Robert Johnson's life and music are shrouded in mystery and myths. Johnson lived such a short life and became an amazing in such a short period of time, that a legend was started that he sold his soul to the devil in exchange for his ability to play guitar.
--Dan Lesiczka, Music Director