Rhythm and Blues

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Rhythm and Blues (also Rhythm & Blues or Rhythm 'n' Blues , abbreviated: R&B , R 'n' B or also RnB ) describes the style of Afro-American pop music that predominated in the 1940s: a rhythmically strongly accentuated form of the blues , from which later Rock 'n' Roll became the form of rhythm and blues played and produced by whites. The term rhythm and blues appeared for the first time as a generic term in 1941 after a royalty dispute between the American copyright society ASCAP and the broadcasting companies in the USA to replace the term race music, which was perceived as discriminatory . From 1949 onwards, Billboard magazine titled one of its hit parades with rhythm and blues . The term is said to have been coined by Jerry Wexler , the then journalist and later producer of the record label Atlantic Records . In the American music industry, the term is still used today as a collective term for African American mainstream music.

In the 1980s and 1990s, the term was reinterpreted and denoted connections between pop music and soul ( Michael Jackson , Whitney Houston , Mariah Carey , Lionel Richie , Prince ), later a connection between pop music and hip-hop . The terms " Contemporary R&B " , "Rhythm 'n' Beat" , "Rap 'n' Beat" or "R&B" (exclusively as an abbreviation) are often used for a more precise definition .



After the Second World War , the first rhythm and blues bands were formed in the USA. The music of the big big bands of the 1930s and 1940s had evolved towards jazz . Radio stations were no longer willing to hire expensive big bands for their musical entertainment and instead played records. This meant that the big bands lost a considerable portion of their income. They were replaced by smaller bands consisting of a rhythm group and a few horn sections.

Rhythm and Blues was designed to entertain the audience. Many bands signed real shouters as singers, e.g. B. Big Joe Turner . The first big star of rhythm and blues was Louis Jordan . His hits include Caldonia , Saturday Night Fish Fry and Choo Choo Ch'Boogie . Ambiguous texts were the basis for the success of Julia Lee, for example . As the lead instrument, the electric guitar in the tradition of T-Bone Walker prevailed over the piano .


The position of rhythm and blues as the music of the black population changed in the 1950s with the mixing of rhythm and blues and rock 'n' roll by artists like Chuck Berry . Even the Doo Wop has its roots in rhythm and blues; originally sung by black artists, mixed and all-white groups soon emerged.

By combining rhythm and blues with gospel , artists such as Ray Charles and Sam Cooke created soul music in the late 1950s, a further development of rhythm and blues with its old secular themes that were now performed with sacred energy. The song Hallelujah, I love her so! (1956) by Ray Charles reflects this tension in the title. The soul picked up on the motives and themes of the black civil rights movement - the struggle for social (legal and economic) recognition of the still underprivileged African-Americans and the associated constitution of black self-confidence.

The soul soon split into different genres and styles . The most important and most successful in business is likely to be Motown . The Detroit label made a number of artists big, for example Diana Ross & The Supremes , the Temptations , Smokey Robinson & The Miracles, Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye . A line of development led from here to radio in the 1970s. James Brown , in particular, shaped the style .


In the subculture of mods in England, “black” soul, R&B, ska and jazz played an important role. The mods rebelled against their parents' generation and consciously distanced themselves from rockers and Beatles fans through their music . The band The Who , strongly associated with the mod movement, called their program “Maximum R&B” in the mid-1960s. The origin of Northern Soul (also called Rare Soul ) lies in the mod culture , in which rare recordings of soul and rhythm and blues are formative.

Musicians of rhythm and blues

As a singer and musician of this era that the rhythm-and-blues style of the 1940s and 1950s - at least temporarily - are attributable apply in addition to those already mentioned Louis Jordan and Big Joe Turner , among other Fats Domino , Hank Ballard , Jesse Belvin , Brook Benton , Ray Charles, Earl Bostic , The Spencer Davis Group , Bill Doggett , Charles Brown , Roy Brown , Ruth Brown , Billy Eckstine , Lowell Fulson , Lionel Hampton , John Lee Hooker , Etta James , Little Willie John , Buddy Johnson , BB King , Johnny Otis , Jimmy Reed , Ella Mae Morse , Dinah Washington , T-Bone Walker , Muddy Waters , Joe Williams , Howlin 'Wolf and Jimmy Witherspoon, as well as vocal ensembles such as The Coasters , The Drifters , The Clovers and The Platters .

See also


General representations

  • James A. Gowan: Here Today! Here to stay! A Personal History Of Rhythm And Blues . Sixth House Press, St. Petersburg, Fla. 1983, ISBN 0-913911-00-3 .
  • Big Al Pavlow: The R&B Book. A Disc-history Of Rhythm & Blues . Music House Pub., Providence / Rhode Island 1983, ISBN 0-915529-00-9 .
  • Mitch Rosalsky: Encyclopedia Of Rhythm And Blues And Doo Wop Vocal Groups. Scarecrow Press, Lanham, Md. 2000, ISBN 0-8108-3663-7 .

Regional developments

  • John Broven: Walking To New Orleans. Rhythm And Blues In New Orleans. Pelican Pub., Gretna, La. 1978, ISBN 0-88289-125-1 .
  • Philip Groia: They All Sang At The Corner. New York City's Rhythm And Blues Vocal Groups Of The 1950s. Edmond Pub., Setauket, NY 1974, ISBN 0-912954-08-6 .
  • Peter Guralnick : Sweet Soul Music. Rhythm And Blues And The Southern Dream Of Freedom. Harper & Row, New York 1986.
  • Jeff Hannusch (a. K. A. Almost Slim): I Hear You Knocking. The Sound Of New Orleans Rhythm And Blues. Swallow Publications, Ville Platte, La. 1985, ISBN 0-9614245-0-8 .

Web links

Commons : Rhythm and blues  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Jerry Wexler, a Behind-the-Scenes Force in Black Music, Is Dead at 91. at: www.nytimes.com , accessed July 13, 2014.
  2. ^ Richard Barnes: The Who - Maximum R&B. Plexus Publishing, London 1996, ISBN 0-85965-351-X .
  3. Christie's: Original poster from 1964 The Who - Maximum R&B, Tuesdays at the Marquee. Retrieved June 26, 2010.