There’s really no definitive answer to that the dad of the blues is, although in a debatable way names such together W.C. Handy, Charley Patton, and also Lead Belly room worthy contenders. 

It’s also important to emphasis this question more, such together who designed the blues, who first wrote the blues on paper music, and also so on.

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Diving right into a myriad that a question

People are constantly wondering that the very first to pat the electrical guitar was, who the an initial guitarist to rental the tapping technique was, who designed rock n’ roll, who was the best blues artist, and also in this instance which artist was recognized as the father of the blues. It’s definitely natural to wonder and fantasize about these “firsts”, of course it goes past music as well — who was the an initial to walk on the moon, etc. Too regularly though, the natural civilization doesn’t occupational within these directly line, 90 level frameworks. A newer man-made city often has strict grid fads of roads, all partitioned neatly in human, finite angles; whereas, a big river or mountain regions flow in these fractal-like, unpredictable patterns; one flow branches from another, branching into 7 others, nearly indefinitely.


So the is through starters in terms of music. Pinpointing a true dad of the blues, such a large question can be split into 3 sub-questions. Who developed the blues, who very first notated the blues, and who is the many influential. Usually, one the these three sub-questions is yes, really what human being wonder once they ask that the father of the blues was.

Who developed the blues?

Tackling very first who developed or started the blues, here’s one answer: no one. For instance, Jelly roll Morton, lead Belly, W.C. Handy, and also Ma Rainey (each considered iconic pioneers in their very own right) every recalled hearing what castle later construed as “the blues” approximately 1900, prior to common recording technology existed. To be exact, some point to 1901, others allude to 1902, and also so on. Now surely if they very first heard the blues roughly this time, it’s reasonable come guess that it had actually been roughly for at the very least a year or two more. If that’s the case, the blues was quite maybe in development well prior to 1900. In truth, and also returning come the fractal case, blues is often said to be a melange of African-American spirituals, individual music together as job-related songs, and older music traditions, which irregularly created branch by branch over a span of time.

To speak it one more way, fairly than gift a concern of “the chicken or the egg”, it to be probably rather a slow morphing of previous creatures which end time came to be what we contact today a chicken. This is a hard pill come swallow in a means because us humans with our 90 degree angles desire a definitive answer — who designed the blues?! (And who as such can be crowned father of the blues?!) but instead we’ll need to answer it v an unstable, vacuum of an answer once more: nobody!

Who very first notated the blues?

If through asking, i beg your pardon artist is well-known as blues’ father, world mean to ask, who first notated the blues? Then, this is much more black and also white question. W.C. Comfortable is generally embraced as gift the an initial to write the blues down, through his landmark Dallas Blues (1912) and Saint luigi Blues (1914), capturing the 12 bar structure so well-known today. Often, and bringing ago that object of the “inventor” of the blues, W.C. Comfortable is climate mistaken as being the inventor that the blues, yet again this is reasonably straight-forward to debunk due to the fact that of all those names like Jelly Roll completed they’d heard the blues prior to Handy.


On top of that, Lead ship mentions on among his Lomax interviews that he’d heard Saint luigi Blues years before knowing W.C. Handy’s name. The being said, W.C. Handy certainly marks his place in the annals the music history for his noteworthy step forward.

Who’s the most prominent blues artist?

Now, jumping come the “father that the blues” as it involves the most influential blues artist, this is also a doable one to shotgun part answers. It’s no a topic with a critical answer of course, but one i beg your pardon stokes good conversation and debate. Returning to the parallel the branches, and also how all artists, fairly than being “0-1” inventors of wholly brand-new ideas, areinstead contributors that a better whole, below are some artists who added especially far-ranging branches, turn off of which other musicians to be able to create their branches (aka, their contributions).


For example, in absent guitar, Jimi Hendrix wasn’t a complete alien v entirely brand-new concepts; he obtained from Pete Townshend’s on-stage antics, the amalgamated BB King’s licks with others’ licks, he created lyrics influenced by Bob Dylan. So, that was simply a branch turn off of the bigger tree the music. However, his branch to be an enormously far-reaching branch, and one which enabled others come branch from, including Stevie ray Vaughan, Jimmy Page, Eddie valve Halen, and so on. Below are some such branches in state of at an early stage blues.

Charley Patton

Many would allude to Charley Patton as a dad of the blues, even a patriarch that the blues. Noting his influence as a actual “touring” individual artist, the was distinct for his time in the he in reality was relatively well-known, a “robin-hood” sort of figure, known to locals, playing reflects as much as Chicago and new York City.

Although, his main region of play in miscellaneous Mississippi areas. People point to Patton as the blues’ significant father due to the fact that he to be a crucial mentor come so plenty of blues musicians who followed, consisting of Son House, Willie Brown, Robert Johnson, Howlin’ Wolf, and also Bukka White. In other words, had Charley Patton not set his instance of being a working artist, those various other musicians might not have taken their course therefore strongly, i m sorry would’ve hugely impacted the course of 20th century American music come come.

Lead Belly

Another significant father of the blues is the man who was allegedly shoot in the stomach v a shotgun and also outran a team of prison bloodhounds to escape native jail.


Truly, command Belly live the Hollywood life the a bluesman, moving from city to city — occasionally using pseudonyms — come beat jail, and collecting piles ~ above piles the songs like jewels i m sorry he’d document en masse end the years. Being so prominent at an early stage on, born about that same early on time choose Charley Patton, command Belly has actually a solid claim to being the father of the blues. One facet of lead Belly, though, is that he’s often considered to have covered much more than simply the blues (in the technological 12 Bar Blues sense), with many of his famed songs being individual songs together as home of the climbing Sun, black color Betty, and also Midnight Special. Still, being a close friend of remote Lemon Jefferson’s and also having amazing facility ~ above his Stella 12 String come play the full, down-home blues, command Belly have the right to still be considered a father of the blues. 

Robert Johnson

Many “meta” pre-war blues pan may contend with Robert Johnson being named father the the blues; this could sound contradictory due to the fact that Johnson is quickly the most renowned bluesman of the pre-war period.

However, due to the fact that he’s the many commercially well-known of this cohort (perhaps various other than Muddy Waters), niche listeners may frequently say that the hype and also the true contribution of Johnson room out that sync. And, through the challenge of separating the commerial hype from the actual substance of his recordings, they often leave him together an outlier in the discussion. Is there worth to this allude of view? Potentially, yet Johnson certain was without doubt a true blue contributor; in other words, the exaggeration is valid. Contradictory to Keith Richards and also Eric Clapton’s praise of Johnson as an untouchable etc genius, this is whereby it’s overhyped. His slide play was not also close to being together masterful together Blind Willie Johnson, his fingerstyle prowess was nowhere close to that of blind Blake, and also many the his standard licks to be straightaway adapted from Son house songs, amongst other predecessors of his. But, Johnson played v an inimitable flair and style — that pre-Rock n’ role bohemian non-chalance and also sexuality, and really cultivating that hell / devil aesthetic together his own. Plus his edgy form of playing was definitely excellent; this can’t be denied. Although that didn’t necessarily complement the raw technical abilities of few of his predecessors, his recordings caused such a stir, forever veering the route of 20th century music in a brand-new direction, that his impact inevitably calls for the question of if he’s the dad of the blues, regardless and even in full acknowledgement the his hype.

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Muddy Waters

A unique figure in blues is Muddy Waters. Many of the feasible fathers the the blues questioned here have actually been pre-war players, which provides sense since, despite “father” being an overwhelming to define, for sure there’s very early influencer element to it.


Although Muddy Waters to be both; he started his play in that pre-war style, all acoustic and even employing blind Willie Johnson-like bottleneck playing in his early recordings, all the means to pioneering the electrical blues Chicago layout in the 1950s. By being so firmly rooted in traditional, early on blues playing, and also being not just present however extremely impactful to so countless of the future generation of musicians, Muddy’s influence was rather broad. From chuck Berry, to small Walter, come the rojo Stones, Muddy instigated so plenty of movements follow me the far-reaching junction point out of music that he could likewise be thought about a dad of the blues. That course, his style, favor Johnson and also Lead Belly, was rather unique. A full-on womanizer, with a leading presence according to those who remember him, and a classic Telecaster sound, v “cat-growl”-like on slide licks. 

Tying up the discussion’s loose ends

In summary, there space a few different means a “father” of the blues deserve to be interpreted. Probably when people ask i beg your pardon artist was known as blues’ father, they mean in regards to who developed the blues, who very first notated the blues, or that was the most significant blues artists. Come answer these questions, no single person created the blues, W.C. Comfortable was probably the first to notate the blues, and also the most influential blues artist is quite debatable however probably includes names favor Patton, lead Belly, Robert Johnson, and Muddy Waters; the answer to this last concern sways with each person’s personal slant.