‘Sermon Sound’ of T-Bone
Aaron Thibeaux “T-Bone” Walker, an innovator of electric blues, was born on May 28th, 1910 and died on March 16th, 1975. He played at the Dungeon Club twice, on March 28th, 1965 and October 17th, 1965 and each time had played at the Twisted Wheel in Manchester on the previous night. On the first occasion, he was backed by John Mayall’s Blues Breakers.
Here is a preview, published on Friday March 26th, 1965 in the Jazz Column of the Nottingham Evening Post And News prior to the first performance.
Jazz Column by Frank Jones
Nottingham says hail and farewell this weekend to a pioneer of the electric guitar, and one of America’s best known rhythm and blues singers – Aaron T-Bone Walker.
The gritty-voiced Texan winds up his three-week British tour at the Dungeon Club on Sunday, backed by John Mayall’s Blues Breakers.
For a man who helped to popularise the amplified guitar in its infancy, Walker has plenty in common with Britain’s guitar-mad youngsters. He also has a lot to teach them.
It was as a teenage guitarist that Walker first hit the road, accompanying legendary artists like Ida Cox, Blind Lemon Jefferson and Ma Rainey.
He soaked up much of their feeling and style, and eventually succeeded in his own right as a singer with Les Hite’s band in the thirties. Lionel Hampton was a colleague in the group around that time.
When electronics were developed T-Bone was among the first to realise the musical potential of the electric guitar.
He employed it creatively to back his dynamic vocals and by 1943 he was one of the biggest-selling black artists making records.
At one time he had three R and B discs in the ‘Billboard’ magazine’s top ten, enjoying his biggest success with ‘Stormy Monday’.
In the forties and fifties T-Bone led his own band – often as many as nine pieces – but the strain of one-night stands told on his health. He broke up the group in 1955 and since then he has worked as a solo performer.
In Marshall Stearns’ ‘The Story of Jazz’ Walker links the blues harmonies with those of religious songs, which employed the same chords.
“Of course, the blues comes a lot from the church,” he says. “The first time I ever heard a boogie woogie piano was the first time I went to church.
“Lots of people think I’m going to be a preacher when I quit this business, because of the way I sing the blues,” he adds. “They say it sounds like a sermon.”
Brethren, stand by!
Evening Post And News, Friday March 26th 1965
T-Bone Walker on video: