.It is difficult to find any new words of praise on Bob Dylan. He remains one of the true icons of popular music. However, he is not a trailblazer. His roots and inspirations are easily found. No discredit against Dylan meant. He is every bit the icon as everyone says But here is the 1st of ten people who did what Dylan does just way before him. Introducing:
#4. & #5
Big Bill Broonzy & Lighnin Hopkins
Big Bill Broonzy
The hardest thing for a musician to do is to survive and still thrive. There have been many musicians who survived strife of some sort but their popularity was a shell of what it once was. Even more difficult to do is to maintain an artistic success both creatively and financially. Where many would crumble in later years dealing with past successes, Bob Dylan stood tall and fought expectations of what he was as an artist and what his creations mieant. He survived himself and his legacy just like two of the legendary bluesmen of all time, Big Bill Broonzy and Lightnin Hopkins.
This entry focuses not only on longevity but productivity as well. While Dylan has had more than his share of clunkers, notably the album Down in the Groove (Do all the reforming you like. It won’t make it a good album), his consistently being able to make a great album marks him truly farther and greater than any other in pop music history. His ability to remain relevant while crafting his own material further confirms his genius.
Like Dylan, both Hopkins and Broonzy wrote a lot of their own material. Broonzy’s career would stretch from 1927–1958. Of note, Wikipedia informs us:
“Broonzy copyrighted more than 300 songs during his lifetime, including both adaptations of traditional folk songs and original blues songs.”
Born Lee Conley Bradley anywhere from 1893 to 1902 in either Lake Dick, Ar or Scott Ms., Broonzy was one of seventeen children. From a young age, Broonzy developed a passion for music and began performing anywhere he and friend Louis Carter could. After returning from military service in World War I, Broonzy would pack up his bags and leave his home in Arkansas for the more accommodating climbs of Chicago.
Lightnin’ Hopkins career spanned from 1946 to 1982 and, according to Discog.com, released 78 albums. Hopkins remains one of the most prolific recording artist in any genre. His laid back, smooth delivery was both cool and meaningful. Like Broonzy, Lightnin’ Hopkins’ music contained elements that would set the structure for rock. Both blues men would have long recording careers.
They never reached the dizzying heights or adoration Dylan would. However in a business where people come and go by night or reach the top briefly, Big Bill Broonzy and Lightnin’ Hopkins had a durability matched by very few.