Friday, January 29, 2016


As the postwar years came into sharper focus, Big Bill Broonzy, who had been a recording blues artist since around 1927, saw the music he’d been playing for decades moving in a couple of different directions. The blues audience was losing interest in the older styles and embracing the music of the new electrified blues and R&B combos, and the nascent “folk revival” was beginning to turn its ear towards the acoustic blues players of yore. So, Big Bill reinvented himself as a folk singer and continued to work, both in the U.S. and, increasingly, abroad. In 1951 he made his first recordings in Europe, at a concert in Düsseldorf, West Germany. That fall he also played and recorded in Paris and London. Then it was back to Chicago for a three-day session for Mercury Records split between a couple of solo sessions and one with a small combo. “Get Back,” was one of the tunes from his first Mercury session. It was not released as a single at the time but later appeared on a “memorial” album after his passing. Better known as “Black, Brown, and White,” it addressed the entrenched racism of life in America; he recorded it a number of times, mostly for European record companies. Big Bill would continue to play concerts and make records, both in Europe and the U.S., up until a few months before his death in 1958. He remains one of the most well-known and loved bluesmen of all time.

Big Bill Broonzy • Get Back • 1951

Big Bill Broonzy, vocal/guitar; Ransom Knowling, bass. Chicago, 8 November 1951

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