Blues Unlimited

Essential Interviews from the Original Blues Magazine
Author: Edited by Bill Greensmith, Mike Rowe, and Mark Camarigg
Foreword by Tony Russell
The history of the blues from the musicians who lived it
Cloth – $125
Paper – $35
eBook – $14.95
Publication Date
Cloth: 10/26/2015
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About the Book

British blues fans Mike Leadbitter and Simon Napier launched the magazine Blues Unlimited in 1963. The groundbreaking publication fueled the then-nascent, now-legendary blues revival that reclaimed seminal figures like Son House and Skip James from obscurity. Throughout its history, Blues Unlimited heightened the literacy of blues fans, documented the latest news and career histories of countless musicians, and set the standard for revealing long-form interviews.

Conducted by Bill Greensmith, Mike Leadbitter, Mike Rowe, John Broven, and others, and covering a who's who of blues masters, these essential interviews from Blues Unlimited shed light on their subjects while gleaning colorful detail from the rough and tumble of blues history. Here is Freddie King playing a string of one-nighters so grueling it destroys his car; five-year-old Fontella Bass gigging at St. Louis funeral homes; and Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup rising from life in a packing crate to music stardom. Here, above all, is an eyewitness history of the blues written in neon lights and tears, an American epic of struggle and transcendence, of Saturday night triumphs and Sunday morning anonymity, of clean picking and dirty deals.

Featuring interviews with: Fontella Bass, Ralph Bass, Fred Below, Juke Boy Bonner, Roy Brown, Albert Collins, James Cotton, Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup, Joe Dean, Henry Glover, L. C. Green, Dr. Hepcat, Red Holloway, Louise Johnson, Floyd Jones, Moody Jones, Freddie King, Big Maceo Merriweather, Walter Mitchell, Louis Myers, Johnny Otis, Snooky Pryor, Sparks Brothers, Jimmy Thomas, Jimmy Walker, and Baby Boy Warren.

About the Author

Bill Greensmith is a photographer from England now living in St. Louis; producer of CDs for Red Lightnin', Ace and Rhino Records and consultant for numerous record companies; former co-editor of Blues Unlimited (1974–87); and former host of a weekly blues radio program on KDHX, St. Louis (1989–94). Mike Rowe is a longtime blues broadcaster, reviewer, writer, and compiler, and the author of Chicago Blues. Mark Camarigg is publications manager and former assistant editor for Living Blues Magazine and chairs The Center for the Study of Southern Culture's annual Blues Symposium at The University of Mississippi.


"The musicians run the gamut from the well known (Albert Collins, Freddie King, Arthur Crudup) to the obscure. . . . The University of Illinois Press is to be commended for making this material available once more, this time in permanent form."--Journal of Folklore Research

"Groundbreaking artist interviews and a covey of the most enlightening are collected here (along with a gang of photos) over the volume's generous 496 pages. A necessary purchase."--Big City Rhythm & Blues

"Blues Unlimited set the standard for all of the other blues publications that followed in its wake. . . . Throughout the book, the editors and writers of Blues Unlimited show a deep knowledge of the history of the musicians under consideration."--Blues Blast Magazine"The pioneering work of Blues Unlimited produced a mine of - often very detailed - information about forgotten and new blues heros. This compilation worthy of reading interviews shows that in a varied and colourful way.”--De Blueskrant


"Blues Unlimited was not only an amazing source of information but also an inspiration to the founders of Living Blues magazine. We wanted to do our part in America to join in and complement BU's groundbreaking work. The late Mike Leadbitter, co-editor of BU, and his successors left a marvelous legacy of blues literature and generously shared their research with us."--Jim O'Neal, co-founder, Living Blues magazine

"There is a remarkable variety of work here. The obvious commitment to tradition, to getting the story right, reporting it accurately, and providing an unstinting platform for the voices of the human beings that created this musical tradition, shows through time and again, with candor and clarity."--Steven C. Tracy, author of Hot Music, Ragmentation, and the Bluing of American Literature

"Without Blues Unlimited, our knowledge and understanding of the history of the blues would be neither as rich nor as detailed as it is. We owe every contributor a debt of gratitude that we can only repay by appreciating their efforts."--Paul Vernon, author of Last Swill and Testament: The Hilarious, Unexpurgated Memoirs of Paul 'Sailor' Vernon, Blues Fanatic, Rare Record Dealer, Ligger, Erstwhile Bon Viveur, and Friend to the Stars

"The Blues Unlimited crew provided a wonderful service to blues enthusiasts worldwide and did themselves proud--real trailblazers. A sure, can't miss winner."--Steve Cushing, host of Blues Before Sunrise and author of Pioneers of the Blues Revival