The Blues Foundation has announced this year's slate of inductees to the Blues Hall of Fame, and the "class of 2012" includes both some heavy-hitters as well as some personal faves of mine. Billy Boy Arnold, Michael Bloomfield, Buddy & Ella Johnson, Lazy Lester, Furry Lewis, Horst Lippmann and Fritz Rau, Matt "Guitar" Murphy, Doc Pomus, Pervis Spann, Frank Stokes, and Allen Toussaint will all be inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in May during Blues Music Awards Week.
Harp player Billy Boy Arnold is a bona fide Chicago blues legend well deserving of induction into the HOF, and the great Allen Toussaint is a veritable New Orleans music institution known and revered as a musician, songwriter, and producer. Lazy Lester is another Louisiana legend, the blues harpist still performing in the seventh decade of his lengthy career. Guitarist Michael Bloomfield was an original member of the ground-breaking Paul Butterfield Blues Band and played with Bob Dylan before forming the late-1960s blues-rock band Electric Flag, while country bluesman Furry Lewis has always been a sentimental favorite of the Reverend's, the artist responsible for introducing me to the blues.
Matt "Guitar" Murphy is best-known from his appearances in the two Blues Brothers movies, but his lengthy and impressive resume includes stints playing behind folks like Howlin' Wolf, Bobby "Blue" Bland and, most notably, Memphis Slim. Doc Pomus was a great blues and R&B songwriter and a lesser-known performer, and Frank Stokes was a well-regarded Memphis acoustic bluesman circa the 1920s and '30s. Buddy Johnson was a jump-blues bandleader during the 1940s and '50s, and his sister Ella was his main vocalist. Horst Lippman and Fritz Rau were the influential German concert promoters behind the American Folk Blues Festival while Pervis Spann was a popular Chicago radio personality.
The Blues Hall of Fame also includes categories for books and recordings, and this year's "Classics of Blues Literature" inductees includes Chris Albertson's Bessie, an acclaimed biography of blues pioneer Bessie Smith, and The Voice of the Blues: Classic Interviews from Living Blues Magazine, edited by Jim O'Neal and Amy van Singel. Tampa Red's 1940 recording "It Hurts Me Too"; Pine Top Smith's influential 1928 song "Pine Top's Boogie Woogie"; and Magic Sam's often-covered 1957 hit "All Your Love" will all be inducted as "Classics of Blues Recording: Single/Album Track" while Buddy Guy's Damn Right, I've Got The Blues and Robert Cray's Bad Influence will be honored in the album category. Congratulations to all of this year's Blues Hall of Fame inductees!
Michael Bloomfield photo courtesy Sony Music