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article imageReview: ‘The Man who Brought the Blues to Britain’ Special

By Alexander Baron     Dec 8, 2013 in Entertainment
Big Bill Broonzy is one of the legendary names of the Blues. This one hour documentary paints an accurate portrait of his life.
The same cannot be said of his highly imaginative 1955 autobiography which was written with the assistance of two Dutch fans: Yannick and Margo Bruynoghe.
Still, a good imagination has never been anything but an asset to a songwriter, especially a bluesman.
According to the man himself, he was born in 1893; other - less unreliable - sources give his date of birth as ten years later. His birth name was Lee Conley Bradley.
Attracted by coverage in the Chicago Defender newspaper, Broonzy left his home in Arkansas and headed for the Windy City in 1920 (according to him). He would never look back. Unlike most bluesmen, Broonzy had not only an enormous but also an extremely eclectic repertoire. He was also a notorious womaniser, though it was probably a combination of alcohol and cigarettes that killed him; he died from cancer of the throat in August 1958, but in his relatively short life he travelled widely and brought the blues to later generations of especially white rock musicians.
Keith Richards appears in this documentary the same as he does in the two related episodes of Blues America. It is currently on BBC iplayer, but won't be for much longer.
There are also contributions from many others, including Pete Seeger - now well over ninety - and two of Broonzy's grandnieces.
More about big bill broonzy, the blues, Keith Richards
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