Today in Blues history – January 31, 1906 – Roosevelt Sykes is born
Today in Blues Music History
January 31, 1906 – Roosevelt Sykes is born
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Considered by musicians and music historians the father of the modern blues piano style, Roosevelt Sykes possessed a much-copied keyboard style and a fine voice that, for over half a decade, brought him a vanguard of followers in America and Europe. His playing served as a model for such blues pianists as Peter Chatman, a. k. a. Memphis Slim. During the 1930s he performed solo piano pieces and with sidemen ranging from jazz drummer “Big” Sid Catlett to slide guitarist James “Kokomo” Arnold. A genial man with a vibrant personality, Sykes had an ability to entertain as well, often bringing audiences blues and rag-influenced numbers filled with risque humor. By the 1940s Sykes’s incorporated elements of jump blues and continued to play in a formidable manner which kept him employed as a full-time musician until his death in the early 1980s.