June 11, 2013
19 illus.
9.00 Inches (US)
6.00 Inches (US)
1.35 Pounds (US)
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v2.1 Reference


How the Blues Shaped Rock ’n’ Roll (and Rock Saved the Blues)

The blues revival of the early 1960s brought new life to a seminal genre of American music and inspired a vast new world of singers, songwriters, and rock bands. The Rolling Stones took their name from a Muddy Waters song; Led Zeppelin forged bluesy riffs into hard rock and heavy metal; and ZZ Top did superstar business with boogie rhythms copped from John Lee Hooker. Crossroads tells the myriad stories of the impact and enduring influence of the early-’60s blues revival: stories of the record collectors, folkies, beatniks, and pop culture academics; and of the lucky musicians who learned life-changing lessons from the rediscovered Depression-era bluesmen that found hipster renown by playing at coffeehouses, on college campuses, and at the Newport Folk Festival. The blues revival brought notice to these forgotten musicians, and none more so than Robert Johnson, who had his songs covered by Cream and the Rolling Stones, and who sold a million CDs sixty years after dying outside a Mississippi Delta roadhouse. Crossroads is the intersection of blues and rock ’n’ roll, a vivid portrait of the fluidity of American folk culture that captures the voices of musicians, promoters, fans, and critics to tell this very American story of how the blues came to rest at the heart of popular music.

About the Author

JOHN MILWARD has been the pop music critic of the Chicago Daily News, the Philadelphia Inquirer, and USA Today, and has contributed articles and reviews to Rolling Stone, the New York Times, and the Los Angeles Times, among many others. He lives in Woodstock, New York.


“There has never been any underestimating the influence that blues had on rock music. But Milward makes the connections seem fresh and as alive as when they were happening and evokes the openness that enabled blues to get ‘in the bloodstream of generations of musicians.’”—Chicago Tribune

“Crossroads is both an important and immensely enjoyable read. Milward beautifully illuminates the relationship between the two musical genres. It’s a fascinating presentation that makes listening to the music even more meaningful and gratifying.”—Fretboard Journal

“Rich in anecdotes and insight, ‘Crossroads’ offers a welcome tribute to the blues revival’s most important legacy: the collaboration—across race and class and generations—that galvanized a music that had been left to wither and die.”—Wall Street Journal

“If R&B provided an early sonic template for rock & roll, it was Chicago’s all-in-electric wail and the terrors of the Delta that birthed the great monolith of blues rock. First came the Newport Folk Festival, coffeehouses and the rediscovery of blues sages like Mississippi John Hurt and Fred McDowell—huge players in this tale of how a strain of music from pre-Depression times jolted the 1960s. John Milward, a longtime RS contributor, taps into how talismanic that music was: perfect stuff for firing the imaginations of Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix and Cream. It’s no wonder rock was galvanized in a whole new way, with reborn tales of passway stones and unkempt graves underpinning it all.”—Rolling Stone

“For those who spent all or the majority of their informative teenage years in the 1960s this is a must read publication. . . . There is a terrific read here for everyone with its easy style and loads of really interesting information. Highly recommended.”—Blues & Rhythm Magazine

“Milward’s approach helps readers appreciate the complex tapestry of blues-rock evolution through the eyes of the musicians and the music’s most avid followers . . . .”—Choice

“The real joy of Crossroads is well-tuned prose that illuminates the music along with its history.”—Chronogram

“Which acoustic guitarist had the greatest influence on rock 'n' roll — arguably as significant as electric counterparts like Muddy Waters, T-Bone Walker, B.B, Albert and Freddie King, and Buddy Guy? Judging from John Milward's new book Crossroads: How the Blues Shaped Rock ’n’ Roll (and Rock Saved the Blues), I'd say the honors go to fingerpicking Piedmont bluesman Rev. Gary Davis. . . . These are the kind of connections Milward makes in Crossroads as he traces the earliest exposure of masses of white kids to country blues."—emusic.com


"After reading this book, you won't ever listen to rock 'n' roll music the same way again."—Ted Gioia, author of Delta Blues

"John Milward has written an engaging, well-researched history of the all important connection between blues and rock. It's a welcome and valuable contribution."—Bonnie Raitt

"John Milward has delivered a comprehensively fine work here. Truly a telling tale of the crossbreeding of styles and expressions which interchangeably have fueled the blues and rock fire."—Billy F Gibbons, guitarist for ZZ Top

"John Milward's Crossroads is a work of rare beauty and deep faith in which all our love is never in vain. He knows that somewhere beneath the interstate and the strip malls on the outskirts of every town is our still-beating spirit heart, calling us to barrelhouse by the riverside."—Fred Goodman, author of The Mansion on the Hill: Dylan, Young, Geffen, Springsteen, and the Head-on Collision of Rock and Commerce
Northeastern University Press

9781555537449 : crossroads-milward
296 Pages
$29.95 USD

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