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October 19: The American Negro Blues Festival

October 18, 2015

1qmipk3_1evh_lThe American Negro Blues Festival, in its second year, came to Great Britain for the first time on this date in 1963. The festival electrified young British rock and rollers Mick Jagger, Rod Stewart, Jimmy Page, and Robert Plant with performances by Howlin’ Wolf, Willie Dixon, Lightnin’ Hopkins, and Sonny Boy Williamson, among others, some of them backed up by British bands such as the Yardbirds. (Williamson quipped from the stage: “Those English boys, they want to play the blues real bad. And they do — real bad.”) The festival was the brainchild of Horst Lippmann, the son of a Jewish father; Lippmann had been arrested as a young teen by the Gestapo for his love of jazz, an outlawed art form, but his “Jewish blood” went undiscovered and he spent the last months of World War Ii in hiding in a friend’s cellar. Lippman’s partner was Fritz Rau, who had been orphaned at 10 and became a member of the Hitler Youth. Lippman was also known in Germany as a television producer and radio personality. He and Rau were the promoters in Germany for Jimi Hendrix in 1969. They were inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 2012. To see the great Sonny Boy WIlliamson soloing, look below.

“I suppose somewhere in the back of my mind I was going to be ready perhaps when I was 40 to make a record, and then up until then I was going to be a student and trying to get it right.... yet here I was 20 years old and shoved into a studio... with Muddy Waters and Otis Spahn.” —Eric Clapton