Though the musical genre Boogie Woogie came to the mainstream during the late 1920s, it was already popular among the African American communities from the 1870s. Boogie-Woogie was eventually extended from piano to piano duo and trio. Then to guitar, big band to country and western music, and gospel. It is a vigorously percussive style of blues piano and is mainly incorporated with dancing. Rather than the traditional way of expression of emotions of the blues.
Boogie Woogie can follow singers and be featured in orchestras and small combos. That being said, it is not strictly a solo piano style. It is often called eight to the bar because much of it is written in common time using eighth notes. Although the style had been applied to popular songs such as “Swanee River” and hymns like “Just a Closer Walk with Thee”. Boogie-Woogie tunes are twelve-bar blues for the most part.
Boogie Woogie was associated with the southern states hence named fast Western style and Western rolling blues. The origin of the term ‘boogie woogie’ is actually unknown. It was played at the rent parties, and honky-tonks of southern Chicago in the 1920s. After this it gained nationwide attention only during the 30s.
Boogie Woogie Musicians
Very few amongst the many pianists could make such a lasting influence; perhaps the most popular is Albert Ammons. Jimmy Yancey, Pinetop Smith, who is credited with inventing the term itself, Pete Johnson, and Meade Lux Lewis are also significant contributors in popularizing boogie-woogie.
“Pinetop’s Boogie Woogie” by Pinetop Smith, was recorded in 1928. This was first released in 1929 and was the first official boogie-woogie hit. This helped in establishing, the name of the style as “boogie woogie”. Meade Lux Lewis’s “Honky Tonk Train Blues” recorded 1927, by Paramount Records and first released in March 1930 closely followed Pinetop’s Boogie Woogie
The whim of boogie-woogie lasted from the late 1930s to the early 50s. It also contributed to the development of jump blues and greatly to rock and roll. Artists such as George Frayne keep the traditional style alive with songs like “Rock That Boogie”,”Beat Me Daddy, Eight to the Bar”, “Too Much Fun” etc. In the late 20th and early 21st centuries, Jools Holland has been influential in keeping the Boogie Woogie tradition alive. Hard boogie bands like T. Rex, Gary Glitter, Status Quo, ZZ Top, George Thorogood , Suzi Quatro, Foghat, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and Grand Funk Railroad were popular in the 1970s.
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