“All this new stuff they call rock ’n’ roll, why, I’ve been playing that for years now”: How Sister Rosetta Tharpe kickstarted the British blues-rock explosion – in 1957

Sister Rosetta Tharpe performs in the UK in 1964
(Image credit: Tony Evans/Getty Images)

Muddy Waters unquestionably had a tremendous influence on the British blues-rock revolution of the 1960s. Hell, the most famous blues-influenced combo of them all – the Rolling Stones – named themselves after one of Waters' songs. 

Waters first came to the UK in 1958, surprising audiences expecting the acoustic blues of an earlier generation with his aggressive Telecaster work, and angering some of the conservative-minded music critics in attendance. Though he often met with a cool reception at the time, the ripple effect from the few aspiring guitarists who enjoyed Waters' performances – and were inspired by them – has often been credited as the first spark in the eventual British blues boom.  

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Jackson Maxwell

Jackson is an Associate Editor at GuitarWorld.com. He’s been writing and editing stories about new gear, technique and guitar-driven music both old and new since 2014, and has also written extensively on the same topics for Guitar Player. Elsewhere, his album reviews and essays have appeared in Louder and Unrecorded. Though open to music of all kinds, his greatest love has always been indie, and everything that falls under its massive umbrella. To that end, you can find him on Twitter crowing about whatever great new guitar band you need to drop everything to hear right now.