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"Thames Valley cotton pickers": Race and youth in London blues culture

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Thesis type
(Thesis) M.A.
Date created
This study addresses the reception of African American blues music and the ensuing production of English blues in London from 1955 to 1966. It concentrates on London adolescents' unexpected fascination with a musical style that they virtually had no contact with prior to 1955, while analyzing how this immersion in African American culture shaped their cultural identity. Analysis of the influence of African American blues music in London during this period highlights the BBC's weakened influence as a producer of culture for youth, the subsequent increased popularity of American-sponsored radio, and the eventual romanticization of the blues amongst teens. Examination of album covers, radio programs, and liner notes tracks how this mythology developed amongst English youth while asking why the English understanding of the blues persona was infused into the youth culture of London and enacted in a venue that defined new urban space for youth.
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