BADASS BLUES ‘The Liner Notes’
By Sanford Cohen
We LOVE the Blues, from our heads down to our shoes. Damn Right!
BADASS BLUES is the culmination of over 55 years of my personal journey starting with a little pillow speaker and a transistor radio as a seven year old growing up in Detroit. In those days, the Motown Sound was our ‘local’ music. I loved listening to WKNR ‘Keener 13’ and a highlight for me was when my Uncle Mort, a bass player around town brought his friend, Jerry Goodwin, a DJ from WKNR to OUR house! I don’t even remember what was said sitting across the dinner table from this guy whose voice I learned to love coming out of that radio.
From there, I was hooked on radio. I started out doing the morning announcements as an eighth grader at Lederle Jr. High in Southfield, Michigan, graduating musically to discovering the Blues when my friend and guitarist John Sazy turned me on to the great BB King’s album “Indianola Mississippi Seeds”.
The first live concert I ever saw in person was in 1969 at the age of 13. I went to see the headline act, Three Dog Night, not even knowing anything about the opening act, John Mayall.
OMG. “Room to Move” need I say more? I ran out and bought “The Turning Point” the very next day becoming a lifelong fan of the British Blues Master. You’ll hear a lot of the Bluesbreakers in our various playlists represented throughout by Clapton, Page, Beck and Mayall himself.
Canned Heat was another influential band I listened to in those days. “Going Up the Country” was a big radio hit nationwide. From there, I had the good fortune of acquiring the album ‘Hooker ‘n’ Heat’ and listening to the gritty, but funny John Lee Hooker’s infectious riffs and pounding foot making a believer out of me.
Now it started to get serious! Muddy Waters, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Elmore James, Howlin’ Wolf, the mojo started working on me for sure! Just in time came the great Johnny Winter, Alvin Lee and Ten Years After, the Allman Bros. and a whole bunch more.
Everything, came back to BB King. “The Thrill is Gone” was probably the most commercially successful single in Blues music. BB King continues to this day to be the most recognized Blues musician by casual fans of the Blues. Love for BB King is not casual amongst his peers, however.
Buddy Guy, still touring into his 80’s told me that the one musician he admired and considered the most influential was by far, BB King. We will celebrate BB King’s birthday on this station every single year on September 16th. I had a wonderful opportunity to meet BB King in Prescott, Arizona at Yavapai College in December of 2013. BB seemed to like talking more than playing in the latter days of his performing career and spent time with us just reminiscing about his early days in radio as “Blues Boy”. Kneeling at the feet of the master with us, no less than Stanley Jordan, a virtuoso guitarist in his own right. We were just in awe to be in the presence of BB King.
Which brings us to the present day and why BADASS BLUES is so much of a “thank you” to all the great artists. Little Walter, Clarence “Frogman” Henry, Koko Taylor, Big Mama Thornton, Bonnie Raitt, Dr. John, Ray Charles, J. Geils Band, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Paul Rodgers, they’re all here with a lot more to come. After owning and operating radio stations since 1985, this was the time to create a tribute to the good feelings Terry and I have been blessed with from all the artists we have encountered over the years, both in concert and in person.
I never spend a waking moment without a tune of some kind going through my head. This has been my life’s work. It is an honor after all these years, to be able to bring you some of my personal favorites as well as the songs and the singers, the guitarists, lyricists and personalities that make BADASS BLUES an addictive guilty pleasure. Enjoy!
March 13, 2019