Robert Ford Blues Bibliography Sample

Notes 57.2 (2000) 373-374

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Book Review

A Blues Bibliography:
The International Literature of an Afro-American Music Genre

A Blues Bibliography: The International Literature of an Afro-American Music Genre. By Robert Ford. Bromley, Kent, England: Paul Pelletier, 1999. [800 p. ISBN 0-9535928-0-4. £65.]

The first major book-length bibliography devoted to blues music was The Blues: A Bibliographical Guide, by Mary L. Hart, Brenda M. Eagles, and Lisa N. Howorth (New York: Garland, 1989; hereafter, Hart). Since then, the field of blues bibliography has exploded, in part because new magazines like Blues Access, Blues Revue, and Juke Blues have been established to address the rise in fan interest. An update of Hart seems unlikely, as its authors have retired or moved to other research areas. There have been individual efforts to bring blues bibliography up to date, notably Mary Katherine Aldin's Blues Magazine Selective Index: By Artist and Subject (Hollywood, Calif.: Mary Katherine Aldin, 1996- [for information write to P.O. Box 2407, Hollywood, CA 90078]) and Görgen Antonsson's online Blues Bibliographic Database ( Still, a new book-length bibliography incorporating publications from the nineties has been needed. Robert Ford's Blues Bibliography is a welcome volume.

Ford's intention was to produce an "'artist-based' bibliography" (p. 7) of African American blues on the scale of classic discographies like Robert M. W. Dixon, John Godrich, and Howard Rye's Blues and Gospel Records, 1890-1943 (4th ed. [Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1997]). Twenty-one of the volume's twenty-eight sections consist of biographical entries from John Abley to Hermes Zimmerman. The remaining sections include citations for general history, instruments, record labels, reference sources, regional style variations, and lyric and music transcriptions. At the end is an author index.

As one would expect, the volume bulges with more citations than Hart or Antonsson provide. Hart's numbered citations describe 4,717 items, and Antonsson, in his remarks on his Web site, estimates to have 15,000 entries through 1999. Ford leaves his citations unnumbered, presumably to allow for growth in future editions. With an average of 35 citations per page over 770 pages of the bibliography itself, he has included an estimated 26,955 items. The increase in biographical writing since 1989 is all the more apparent: Hart lists 2,793, Ford approximately 21,560 biographical entries. Both printed bibliographies include books, articles, and record liner notes, but Ford draws many citations from biographical directories such as Sheldon Harris's Blues Who's Who: A Biographical Dictionary of Blues Singers (New Rochelle, N.Y.: Arlington House, 1979), Robert Santelli's Big Book of Blues: A Biographical Encyclopedia (New York: Penguin, 1993), and Colin Larkin's Guinness Encyclopedia of Popular Music (4 vols. [Enfield, Middlesex, England: Guinness Publishing, 1992]; Ford does not cite the second or third editions [1995, 1998]) and Guinness Who's Who of[End Page 373]Blues (2d ed. [Enfield, Middlesex, England: Guinness Publishing, 1995]).

By including a separate section citing lyric and music transcriptions, Ford calls attention to text and music as secondary sources in their own right. Hart, by contrast, lists music transcriptions together with style analyses and general commentary in a section entitled "Music of the Blues," and lyrics collections are listed alongside cultural explications in "Poetry of the Blues."

I have used this volume in the Blues Archive at the University of Mississippi and found it a comprehensive resource. When I turned to Ford for a reference question regarding Robert Bradley, I located a few helpful references to articles on this little-known Detroit street musician. Yet a few improvements would aid the researcher. One is the addition of running heads for each section to help users keep their place. In addition, a potential cause of confusion is the cross-referencing of record-label owners from the biography section to the label section (for example, Lillian McMurry: see Trumpet Records). Such a cross-reference is necessary, but my first impulse is to turn to the T's in...

Robben Ford

Ford in February 2007

Background information
Born(1951-12-16) December 16, 1951 (age 66)
Woodlake, California, U.S.
GenresBlues, jazz, jazz fusion, rock
Occupation(s)Musician, songwriter
Years active1969–present
Associated actsKISS, Miles Davis, John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers, Yellowjackets, Chick Corea, Gregg Allman Band, L.A. Express

Robben Ford (born December 16, 1951) is an American blues, jazz, and rock guitarist.[1] He was a member of the L.A. Express and Yellowjackets, and has collaborated with Miles Davis, Joni Mitchell, George Harrison, Larry Carlton and Kiss. He was named one of the "100 Greatest Guitarists of the 20th Century" by Musician magazine.

Early life[edit]

Robben Ford was born in Woodlake, California and raised in Ukiah, California. He began playing the saxophone at age 10 and the guitar at age 14. Robben and his brothers created the Charles Ford Blues Band in honor of their father.[2]


At age 18, Ford's band was hired to play with Charlie Musselwhite,[1] and recorded two albums The Charles Ford Band and Discovering the Blues. He recorded two albums with Jimmy Witherspoon[3][citation needed] called Live and Spoonful. In the 1970s, Ford joined the jazz fusion band, L.A. Express,[1] led by saxophonist Tom Scott. In 1974 the band supported George Harrison on his American tour and played on the Joni Mitchell albums The Hissing of Summer Lawns and Miles of Aisles.[1]

After leaving the L.A. Express in 1976, Robben Ford recorded his solo album, The Inside Story with a band that later became the Yellowjackets.[1]

In 1977, Ford was one of half a dozen or so session players asked to play the guitar solo for the Steely Dan song "Peg." In the end, the group went with the version by Jay Graydon instead. In 2006, a tribute album to Steely Dan, The Royal Dan, was released, with Ford covering "Peg" in his own style.

In 1982, Ford was one of several guitarists who appeared on the KISS album Creatures of the Night, playing lead guitar on the songs "Rock And Roll Hell" and "I Still Love You".

Ford worked briefly with Miles Davis in 1986;[1] and can be heard on Davis' Montreux box set. Ford released his album, Talk to Your Daughter in 1988. He joined Philippe Saisse, Marcus Miller and J.T. Lewis in the cast of The Sunday Night Band for the second and final season of the late-night NBC television program, Sunday Night in 1989.[4] In the 1990s he released the albums, Robben Ford and the Blue Line, and Tiger Walk.

Robben Ford has received five Grammy Award nominations[5] and was named one of the "100 Greatest Guitarists of the 20th Century" by Musician magazine.[6] He credited pianist and arranger Roger Kellaway and saxophonist and arranger Tom Scott, whom he met while playing for Joni Mitchell, as a major influence on his musical development.[7]



Ford considers his first good electric a Guild Starfire III with a single florentine cutaway. He used a Gibson L-5 when he played with Charlie Musselwhite and the Ford Band, although he never thought it was a great guitar. While playing with Jimmy Witherspoon, Ford traded the L-5, plus $200, for a Super 400. When Ford began playing with the L.A. Express and Joni Mitchell, he used a 1958 Gibson dot-neck 335.

After Ford's Talk to Your Daughter album was released in 1988, Robben used a Robben Ford Signature model guitar created in a collaboration with Dan Smith of Fender and produced in Japan between 1987 and 1993. That guitar was based on the Fender Master Series Esprit Ultra that was produced from 1983 to 1986 in Japan. In 1987, new management at Fender authorized the first production of the Robben Ford Signature guitar. In 1994, production of the guitar moved from Japan to the Fender Custom Shop. Three models were produced: Ultra FM (with a carved maple top), Ultra SP (with a carved spruce top), and the Elite FM (with a carved flame maple top). The guitar line continued to be produced until 2002 when it was discontinued by Fender.

Sometimes he plays a vintage 1960 Fender Telecaster, Gibson Les Pauls,[8] or a 1963 Gibson SG.[9] Ford also owns other guitars including a 1966 Epiphone Riviera (with the original Bigsby tremolo removed and replaced with a stop tailpiece).

In a May 1st-16th 2017 tour which ended in Niagara Falls NY, Ford debuted a newly acquired 1953 Gibson Les Paul.


Robben Ford uses Dumble Amplifiers and Celestion G12-65 speakers. In 1983, Alexander Dumble made Robben's first Dumble Overdrive Special (serial #002) for Robben. Alexander is the owner of serial #001.[10]

When traveling abroad he prefers taking his Dumble, but will sometimes use Fender Super Reverb or Fender Twinamplifiers.[11]

Personal life[edit]

Ford is married to the cabaret singer Anne Kerry Ford. He is the uncle of current Little Feat drummer Gabe Ford.[12]


Main article: Robben Ford discography


  • Discovering the Blues Live (1972) (Live)
  • Sunrise (1972)
  • Jimmy Witherspoon & Robben Ford Live (1976)
  • Schizophonic (1976)
  • The Inside Story (Elektra, 1979)
  • Love's a Heartache (1983)
  • Talk to Your Daughter (Warner Bros., 1988)
  • Words and Music (Warner Bros., 1988)
  • Robben Ford (Warner Bros., 1988)
  • A Song I Thought I Heard Buddy Sing (ITM, 1992)
  • Blues Connotation (1996)
  • Tiger Walk (1997)
  • Supernatural (Universal Classics & Jazz, 1999)
  • Blue Moon (Concord Jazz, 2002)
  • Keep on Running (Concord Jazz, 2003)
  • The Color of Things (2005)
  • City Life (Westwind, 2006)
  • Truth (Concord, 2007)
  • Soul on Ten (Concord, 2009)
  • Bringing It Back Home (Provogue, 2013)
  • A Day in Nashville (Provogue, 2014)
  • Live at Rockpalast (Repertoire, 2014)
  • Into the Sun (Provogue, 2015)
  • Lost in Paris Blues Band (Ear Music, 2016) [13]

With the Blue Line

With the Ford Blues Band

  • The Charles Ford Band (1972)
  • Reunion Live (1984)
  • As Real As It Gets (1996)
  • Hotshots (1994)
  • Fords and Friends (1996)
  • Ford Blues Band (1999)
  • A Tribute to Paul Butterfield (2001)
  • In Memory of Michael Bloomfield (2002)
  • Another Fine Day (2003)
  • Centre Stage (2004)

With the Yellowjackets

  • Yellowjackets (1981)
  • Mirage a Trois (1983)

With Mark Ford

  • Mark Ford and the Robben Ford Band (1990)
  • Mark Ford and the Blue Line (1998)




  • Dark Horse: George Harrison (1974) Hari's on Tour (Express), Simply Shady, Dark Horse
  • Superman (1977) Barbra Streisand
  • Night Watch: Ricky Peterson (1990) Put Your Faith in Me
  • Luck of the Draw: Bonnie Raitt (1991) Slow Ride
  • F-Zero Jazz Album (1992)
  • Lucky Man: Dave Koz (1993) Shakin' the Shack
  • Come Together: Guitar Tribute to the Beatles, Vol. 2 (1995) Golden Slumbers
  • Souvenir: Ricky Peterson (1999) Put Your Faith in Me
  • Walk On: Roscoe Beck (2001) Wasn't It Fine, Think Twice
  • An All Star Lineup Performing the Songs of Pink Floyd (2002) Any Colour You Like
  • Viva Carlos – A Supernatural Marathon Celebration (2004) Blues for Salvador
  • A Guitar Supreme – A Giant Step in Fusion Guitar (2006) Village Blues
  • In the Palace of the King: John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers (2007) Cannonball Shuffle
  • Voodoo Crossing: A Tribute To Jimi Hendrix (2009) Message to Love
  • Trading 8s: Carl Verheyen (2009) New Year's Day
  • Gypsy Blood: A Tribute to Jimi Hendrix, Vol. 2 (2009) Bold as Love


With Charlie Musselwhite

With Joni Mitchell

With Tom Scott and the LA Express

With Dizzy Gillespie

With Jimmy Witherspoon

  • Live at Monterey Jazz Festival (1972)
  • Live (1976)
  • Live at Notodden Blues Festival (1992)
  • Ain't Nothing New About the Blues (1995)

With Kiss

With Georgie Fame

With Rickie Lee Jones

With Bob Malach

  • Mood Swing (1991)
  • The Searcher (1997)

With Miles Davis

With David Sanborn

  • Live at Montreux (1984) (on three bonus tracks from 1981 appearance)

With Neil Larsen

With Ruthie Foster

  • The Truth According to Ruthie Foster (2009)

Movie Soundtracks

  • Pink Cadillac (1989)
  • The Firm (1993)
  • No Way Home (1996)
  • The Whole Nine Yards (2000)

Instructional DVDs[edit]

  • Playing the Blues (October 2002)
  • The Blues and Beyond (2002)
  • Back to the Blues (2004)
  • The Robben Ford Clinic: The Art of Blues Rhythm (December 2007)
  • The Robben Ford Clinic: The Art of Blues Solos (February 2009)
  • "TrueFire Blues Revolution"
  • "TrueFire Riff Revolution"
  • "TrueFire Blues Motif Revolution"
  • "TrueFire Rhythm Revolution"
  • "TrueFire Chord Revolution: Foundations"
  • "TrueFire SongCraft"


External links[edit]

Miles Davis & Robben Ford in Montreux in 1986
  1. ^ abcdefScott Yanow. "Robben Ford". AllMusic. Retrieved November 27, 2011. 
  2. ^Russell, Tony (1997). The Blues: From Robert Johnson to Robert Cray. Dubai: Carlton Books Limited. p. 110. ISBN 1-85868-255-X. 
  3. ^Bob Porter radio show December 8, 2012, on WBGO "Portraits in Blue"
  4. ^Sunday Night – episode #121 (1989), Broadway Video, Inc.
  5. ^Karen Lindell (2008-01-31). "Ojai's Robben Ford doesn't mince words, or licks, on his Grammy-nominated blues CD". VC-Star. Retrieved 2015-09-07. 
  6. ^[1]Archived October 26, 2006, at the Wayback Machine.
  7. ^"Robben Ford Guitar Lesson". Blues Revolution, True Fire. Retrieved March 15, 2013. 
  8. ^"Robben Ford". Vintage Guitar® magazine. Retrieved January 7, 2015. 
  9. ^"Robben Ford Gets Lean and Clean". Guitar Player Magazine® magazine. Retrieved January 30, 2014. 
  10. ^"Rig Rundown: Robben Ford". Premier Guitar® magazine. Retrieved March 19, 2014. 
  11. ^"10 Things We Learned from Robben Ford". Premier Guitar® magazine. Retrieved May 6, 2015. 
  12. ^"Welcome to the web site of Anne Kerry Ford". Retrieved January 7, 2015. 
  13. ^"Robben Ford | Album Discography". AllMusic. Retrieved 11 December 2016. 
  14. ^"Larry Carlton and Robben Ford : Unplugged Review". Guitarhoo!. 31 March 2013. Retrieved 31 December 2014. 

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