Blues Legends is a book intended for newcomers to the blues, especially anyone who (like me) discovered the blues through its 'child,' rock and roll. Blues Legends is short and easy to read, and the 20 artists profiled are the ones who most influenced the rock era. A 10-song CD is also included. Veteran blues fans will like Blues Legends for its many rare photographs.
Above on the left is a photograph of Muddy Waters, as it appears on the cover of Blues Legends. It was taken by Raeburn Flerlage in about 1963. The photograph on the right is of Howlin' Wolf and his band at Silvio's, also taken by Ray in the mid-60s. (That's Wolf at the far right.) Silvio's was Howlin' Wolf's 'home club' in Chicago. The night this picture was taken, Wolf kept sending tumblers of bourbon over to Ray's table. You can't see it too well on this GIF, but Wolf is looking right at the camera, i.e., right at Ray, and laughing, as Ray gets progressively drunker. There are several more photos from that night in Blues Legends.
I wrote this book, but one of the most exciting aspects of it, for me, has been the photographs. (That's John Lee Hooker, in about 1963.) Most of them were taken by Chicago photographer Raeburn Flerlage during the fifties, sixties and seventies, at various venues here in Chicago. Some have never been published before. Also, using the work of only one photographer shooting over a fairly compressed period of time (about 15 years), gives the book a visual unity you usually don't find in blues books, which tend to take whatever pictures they can get. Ray's pictures really capture a sense of the time and place.
Ray's pictures are great. For one thing, he photographed practically everybody who performed in Chicago during that period, and practically everyone did. The 60 or so pictures in this book just scratch the surface of his collection. I have had the pleasure of skimming the contact sheets. Would that all of you blues fans could be so lucky.