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A Brief Overview of Popular Musicians from Memphis

Jul 21, 2008
Over the years, musicians from Memphis have had an amazing influence on the sound of the music that is commonly heard on the radio. Without musicians from Memphis, rock and roll would not be the same. Additionally, if it were not for the contributions of musicians from Memphis, modern jazz and rhythm and blues would not be the same. So, who are these musicians from Memphis who have had such an influence on the sounds that Americans know and love so much? The short answer is that there are several main ones, each adding something unique.

To start, one absolutely must mention W.C. Handy. Although he was not born in Tennessee (rather, he was the son of bible belt African Americans in Alabama), he is known as the Father of the Blues and when he moved to Memphis, he quickly became one of the most highly regarded musicians from Memphis to ever hit the scene. He brought syncopated rhythms to the sound, which is commonly heard in rhythm and blues albums today. Bruce Springsteen even gave him a shout out in his song Walking in Memphis , nearly 30 years after his death.

Other popular musicians from Memphis include B.B. King, who is still touring today. B.B. King was one of the first musicians from Memphis to be signed into Sun Records family. Sun Records soon had his songs on the radio nationwide, which brought a level of popularity to the music that had never been seen before. Previously, the music produced by musicians from Memphis remained local to the region. King brought his electric instruments to the music, helping to bring the sound into modern times.

Another one of the flagship musicians from Memphis that made Sun Records a popular label was Ike Turner. Although today he is probably best remembered for beating his ex wife Tina Turner, at one point Ike was one of the most well respected of all of the musicians from Memphis. Ike Turner was soon touring the country, helping to promote the music produced by musicians from Memphis. With his help, people from San Francisco to New York City were grooving to the sounds of musicians from Memphis.

Of course, there are many other musicians from Memphis that have had a huge impact on modern music. From Willie Nix to Memphis Minnie, all have shaped the history and culture of the blues.
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