Ed Ward

Ed Ward is the rock-and-roll historian on NPR's Fresh Air with Terry Gross.

A co-author of Rock of Ages: The Rolling Stone History of Rock & Roll, Ward has also contributed to The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and countless music magazines. The first part of his two-volume history of rock and roll, covering the years 1920-1963, will be published by Flatiron Books in the fall of 2016.

Ward lives in Austin, Texas. He blogs at City on a Hill.

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Music Reviews
12:47 pm
Tue January 8, 2013

The Unsung Pioneer Of Louisiana Swamp-Pop

Joe Barry was a pioneer of "swamp-pop" in the early 1960s.
Johnny Vallis

Originally published on Tue January 8, 2013 1:50 pm

Southern Louisiana in the early 1960s was a hotbed of musical creativity among youngsters who'd been raised listening to French-language country music and Fats Domino. They combined those — and other — influences to make what's now called "swamp pop." Joe Barry was a pioneer in this area who should have been much bigger.

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Music Reviews
3:21 pm
Thu November 29, 2012

Turning Up The Volume On The Electric Blues

Joe Hill Louis, B.B. King and Rufus Thomas appear on a new multi-disc compilation of electric blues, Plug It In! Turn It Up!
Bear Family Records

Originally published on Fri November 30, 2012 7:12 am

Blues is so much a part of the fabric of American music and American culture — not only as a defined musical form, but also as a springboard for all kinds of creativity — that it seems crazy to try to encapsulate it in any way. Bear Family Records, though, has just released a 12-disc survey of electric blues called Plug It In! Turn It Up! that does a great job of illuminating one particular aspect of the blues.

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Music Reviews
12:52 pm
Tue November 20, 2012

The Insect Trust: An American Band Deconstructed

The Insect Trust.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Mon November 26, 2012 11:40 am

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Music Reviews
12:35 pm
Mon October 22, 2012

The Big Man Behind 'Shake, Rattle And Roll'

No figure in the history of rock 'n' roll is more incongruous than Big Joe Turner.
Heinrich Klaffs Wikimedia Commons

Originally published on Mon October 22, 2012 3:59 pm

Big Joe Turner's hardest-hitting singles have been collected on a new compilation, titled Big Joe Turner Rocks.

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Music Reviews
1:11 pm
Mon October 15, 2012

More Than This: The 'Complete' Roxy Music

Roxy Music's eight studio albums are now collected in one box set, titled The Complete Studio Recordings 1972-1982.
Keystone Hulton Archive

Originally published on Mon October 15, 2012 2:40 pm

Roxy Music's eight studio albums have just been collected in one box set, titled The Complete Studio Recordings 1972-1982.

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Music Reviews
3:52 pm
Mon October 1, 2012

Out Of Industrial Wasteland, The English Beat Was Born

The English Beat.
Adrian Boot Urbanimage.tv

Originally published on Mon October 1, 2012 5:40 pm

In 1978, it seemed that every kid in Britain wanted to be in a punk band. But in Birmingham, that blighted industrial scar in the middle of the island, there wasn't much punk to be seen. The oasis was a club called Barbarella's, and that's where Dave Wakeling and Andy Cox hung out.

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Music Reviews
12:42 pm
Mon September 10, 2012

The Forgotten Story Of Memphis' American Studios

"Son of a Preacher Man" was Dusty Springfield's debut on Atlantic. The entire album that spawned it, Dusty in Memphis, was recorded at American Studios.
Stan Meagher Getty Images

Originally published on Mon September 10, 2012 1:41 pm

Memphis has been a music town since anyone can remember, and it's had places to record that music since there have been records. Some of its studios — Sun, Stax and Hi — are well-known, but American Studios produced its share of hits, and yet it remains obscure. But that's all likely to change with Memphis Boys: The Story of American Studios, both a book and a CD out now.

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Music Reviews
12:14 pm
Thu September 6, 2012

Harmony, Teenagers And 'The Complete Story Of Doo-Wop'

Vocal groups like The Ink Spots went on for decades, often without a single member of the original group appearing with them.
Fred Ramage Getty Images

Originally published on Fri September 7, 2012 12:31 pm

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Music Reviews
12:19 pm
Thu August 16, 2012

Autosalvage: The Psychedelic Band That Vanished

Autosalvage, a New York quartet, made one album and then stopped playing.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Fri August 17, 2012 3:14 pm

A little over 10 years ago, a friend with a small record company in England called me and asked if I wanted to do liner notes for an album he was re-releasing. When he told me it was the Autosalvage album, I flipped. Of course I did!

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Music Reviews
12:16 pm
Wed June 13, 2012

The Untold Story Of Singer Bobby Charles

Singer, songwriter and swamp-pop pioneer Bobby Charles poses for a portrait in 1972.
Michael Ochs Archives Getty Images

Originally published on Wed June 13, 2012 2:31 pm

When he was around 13, Robert Charles Guidry began singing with a band around his hometown of Abbeville, La., deep in the Cajun swamps. The group played Cajun and country music and, after he passed through town and played a show, Fats Domino's music. It was a life-changing experience for the young man, and he found himself with a new ambition: to write a song for Fats.

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Music Reviews
12:00 pm
Fri May 25, 2012

James Burton: The Teen Who Invented American Guitar

Originally published on Fri May 25, 2012 3:11 pm

What were you doing when you were 16?

When he was 16, James Burton was inventing the American guitar. He'd been born in Dubberly, La., in 1939, and was apparently self-taught on his instrument. At 15, he cut a single backing local singer Carol Williams, and then one day he came up with a guitar riff that he liked. He took it to a singer from Shreveport he was touring with, and they worked out a song to use in his act. One thing led to another, and it wound up on a record called "Suzie Q," credited to Dale Hawkins, the singer.

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Music Reviews
11:40 am
Thu April 26, 2012

Howlin' Wolf: A Blues Legend With An Earthy Sound

Howlin' Wolf's masters from the Chess label have just been released on a four-disc set titled Smokestack Lightning: The Complete Chess Masters 1931-1960.

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