Segments in this Video

Introduction: Blues Beginning (00:60)


This segment orients viewers to the origination of the blues and its influence.

Robert Johnson (06:03)

As a teen, Johnson spends time with older players. He improves his skill and records 29 tracks; Johnson dies in 1938. Experts discuss juke joints, Clarksdale, Mississippi, vocal styles, the blending of musical influences, and the emergence of electric guitars.

B.B. King (06:35)

King gets a job at a Memphis radio station. In the 1950s, he records with Sam Phillips, using a guitar style based on T-Bone Walker's; he learns how to bend the strings. Freeman cites a memorable incident while King was on tour.

Ike Turner (06:09)

Turner and his band record what many believe to be the first rock-n-roll song at Sun Studio. He has knowledge of many types of music and his shows draw large crowds; Turner plays "Steel Guitar Rag." Turner meets Annie Mae Bullock (Tina Turner) and they record "A Fool for Love."

Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown (07:16)

"Gatemouth" continues the blues guitar tradition in Texas after Blind Lemon Jefferson and T-Bone Walker. He often combines blues, jazz, country, and Cajun elements. In the 1960s, "Gatemouth" becomes a deputy sheriff in New Mexico. He performs "Strange Things Happen."

Buddy Guy (13:02)

In the late 1920s and beyond, many people from the South move to Detroit and Chicago. Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf introduce a new type of blues; solid body steel guitars become popular. Guy is one of the first to play a Stratocaster; he performs "Hoochie Coochie Man."

Etta James (05:55)

James' sassy performances pay tribute to early female musicians while looking to the future; she enters the music industry at age 14. She has a history of drug use. James performs "I Just Wanna Make Love to You." The blues soon influences the development of rock.

Credits: Blues Beginning (00:43)

Credits: Blues Beginning

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Blues Beginning

Part of the Series : A Journey Through American Music
DVD (Chaptered) Price: $169.95
DVD + 3-Year Streaming Price: $254.93
3-Year Streaming Price: $169.95



The blues was born in the Mississippi Delta over 100 years ago. To tell the story of its genesis and early development, Oscar-winning actor Morgan Freeman invites us to his club, Ground Zero, in Clarksdale Mississippi. Simple but powerful songs played by dirt-poor African-Americans went on to inspire the likes of Dylan, Hendrix, Clapton, and The Rolling Stones, and helped create modern rock music. Freeman guides us from the music's African roots, to the old Delta masters such as Robert Johnson. The program then illustrates the rich variety of the blues from the 1940s onwards. Freeman introduces live footage of BB King, Buddy Guy, Clarence 'Gatemouth' Brown, and Etta James at the Montreux Jazz Festival; Buddy talks about his life and times as Clapton's favorite player. Other insights and musical examples come from Olu Dara, blues musician and father of rap superstar Nas, and musician and actor Chris Thomas King. This entertaining and educational narrative documents the roots and shoots of a seminal American art form.

Length: 47 minutes

Item#: BVL210776

ISBN: 978-1-64867-926-1

Copyright date: ©2007

Closed Captioned

Performance Rights

Prices include public performance rights.

Not available to Home Video and Publisher customers.

Only available in USA and Canada.