World Music Network is pleased to announce the release of The Rough Guide To Blues Legends: Barbecue Bob on 29 June 2015. The record is the latest addition to our Jazz and Blues Legends series and can be purchased as a one off, or ordered as part of our subscription service.
Barbecue Bob was one of the best-selling and most innovative blues artists of the late 1920s before he died at the age of just 29. Undoubtedly some of the most engaging early blues that you are likely to hear, his original and witty compositions had a huge influence on many of the blues greats that followed.
Very few names in the history of the blues capture the imagination quite like that of Barbecue Bob. Don’t be fooled by the quirky pseudonym and gimmicky publicity photograph of him posing in his chef's whites with guitar in hand, as he was an incredibly influential figure whose records helped pave the way for many of the important bluesmen that followed.
One of the unsung heroes of the Piedmont blues style, Robert Hicks, aka Barbecue Bob recorded over sixty sides for Columbia Records and became one of the best-selling artists on their ‘race series’, outsold only by Bessie Smith, Ethel Waters and Blind Willie Johnson. With his original and witty compositions he was one of the real pioneers of the Atlanta blues scene of the time, but his career was tragically ended by his death from pneumonia at the age of just 29.
Characterized by a heavy percussive guitar style, he often used a bottleneck and played with a frailing technique that is more often associated with the claw hammer banjo. His twelve string guitar gave a rich accompaniment to his warm nasal singing voice which, compared to the morbid and foreboding songs of the Delta blues, created a vibe which was jaunty and upbeat.
Largely due to his life being tragically cut short in 1931, his music has been sadly overlooked and has therefore not received the respect proffered to other East coast players such as Blind Willie McTell and Buddy Moss. He was however a true innovator in his time, and this compilation gives proof that his music is undoubtedly some of the most engaging early blues that you are likely to hear.