Country Blues > Discographies

Ransom Knowling

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Bunker Hill:
Forgotten about that. My problem is that I only own a 1957 Jazz Book Club edition and attempting to scan the photos (which are beautifully reproduced on glossy paper in sections throughout the book) only succeeds in revealling the "screening" used by the printing process - everybody becomes "dotty", even at 300dpi.

Bunker Hill:
Thought I'd reactivate this in light of having come across the following anonymous "obituary" in Blues World 19 April 1968:

The list of deaths of leading blues artists continues to grow at an alarming
rate. One man who has recently died, and who is completely irreplaceable,
has received, as far as I know, little more than a passing mention. That man
is one of the undeniable giants of the blues, an artist of impeccable
reliability. Ransom Knowling was a man small in stature, great in charm;
quiet in disposition, fantastic in performance. Through the great period of
swinging blues recordings, Ransom Knowling's bass could be heard and felt
driving, pulsating and uplifting the greatest records. He was seldom
featured, but was instantly recognisable.

No-one could match his drive and propulsive strutting swing. Even on his
records with Tommy McClennan, hardly the easiest man to accompany, Knowling never faltered. And on Robert Nighthawk's "Kansas City Blues" on United, the colossal beat, and incredible dexterity is scarcely believable.

With so much of present-day blues bogged down with the unswingable
electric-bass (a monstrously bad influence this thing has had on blues
performances with its springless plod and lack of reverbatory impulse) the
loss of the first gentleman of the bass is tragic indeed. Ransom, we
shall never look on your like again. Our loss is great indeed.

There's a picture of Ransom Knowling, Willie Smith, and Muddy Waters on stage in England in 1964 in White Bicycles:  Making Music in the 1960s by Joe Boyd.

This is a great thread, I missed it first time around. I was doing a search on Ransom Knowling since I'd never seen a picture of him and he's clearly one of the all time great sidemen. This thread came up on google, thanks for scanning the photos guys.

The index to accompanists in B&GR which ends in 1943 has him listed on bass and brass bass (tuba) for these artists:
Big Bill, Big Maceo, Doctor Clayton, Arthur Crudup, Champion Jack Dupree, Jazz Gillum, Lil Green, Harlem Hamfats, Frankie Jaxon, George Jefferson(?), Merline Johnson, Curtis Jones, Tommy McClennan, Joe McCoy, Jimmy McClain(?), Minnie Mathes(?), Tampa Red, Johnnie Temple, Washboard Sam, Casey Bill, Sonny Boy Williamson.

It might be nice to list post-1943 people not on that list he accompanied. A quick search turns up Elmore James, Muddy Waters, Little Brother Montgomery, Big Joe Williams, SBW2, Rosetta Tharp, Otis Spann, Johnny Jones, Sunnyland Slim, Memphis Slim, T-Bone Walker.

Does it say in the book where the picture above from Big Bill Blues with Knowling, Merline Johnson and Lester Melrose was taken? I'd not seen a pic of Melrose before either so far as I remember.

In the Blues 1943-70 discography he seems to get a mention on some 40+ pages dotted throughout the book so it seems fair to say he recorded a lot!


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