Blues Guitar Riffs; Where Did It All Start?

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Blues music really started in the Deep South of America in the late 19th Century, but blues guitar and blues guitar riffs did not did not appear until about the early 1920´s. The first songs ever published where “Delta blues,” and “St. Louis Blues,” where the foundation of the familiar chord progressions that we hear today.

Before that songs used consisted of one line being repeated four times, and where sung to let people know of the singers trouble and strife, and where often adaptations of spiritual songs.

It wasn´t until after World War 2 that the great Guitar players started playing the blues, Elmore James and Muddy Waters, introduced us to slide guitar often played using an empty bottles, and electric guitar. Muddy Waters recorded his fist successful song in 1948 called “I can´t be satisfied,” and it was influence by the Mississippi style of blues.

Since then the blues has continued to grow in popularity, and progress in style, and white performers started to copy it, people like Elvis Presley did a lot to make it popular, and rock and roll was developed, it was about this time that we started to hear great blues guitar riffs, such as Chuck Berry’s Johnny Be Good, which influenced a lot of the British bands back in the 1960´s.

The Beatles where heavily inspired by Chuck Berry, and so where the Animals, Fleetwood Mack, the Rolling Stones, the Yardbirds, and Cream, Led Zeppelins early songs where very much blues based, and without the blues there would never have been Status Quo.

The British bands inspired the American ones, and in the early 1970´s the Texas rock blues emerged, and with bands such as, Stevie Ray Vaughan, The fabulous Thunderbirds, Johnny Winter, and ZZ Top, but these bands didn´t see much success until the early 80´s.

Since the 80´s there has been revival of interest in the blues by the African American people, particularly in the Deep South in the regions of Jackson and Mississippi, often termed “Soul Blues,” performers of this type of Blues, include Marvin Sease, Denise LaSalle, Bobby Rush, Bettye LaVette and Peggy Scott-Adams.

Blues continued through the 80´s in both the traditional form and new forms emerging, some of the artist´s where growing in popularity, and include a revival of John Lee Hooker with an album called The Healer, and Eric Clapton formally from Cream and The Blues Breakers with his album unplugged released in 1990 on which he played some standard blues on both acoustic guitar and on his Fender electric guitar, with some really great blues guitar riffs.

We have a lot to be thankful for the Blues, without it there would not have been the great artists mentioned in this article, and there would not have been, some of the great guitarists that we are seeing today.

I hope that you have enjoyed this article, and I hope that some of you guitarists out there feel inspired to go out and play some of those great blues guitar riffs.

I wish you all the best with your blues guitar riffs.


“Wolfie” is passionate about his guitar playing, and has a website for people that would like learn how to play guitar, and share in his passion.

Why not pick up the FREE! lessons on his site.



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