A Life's Labor of Love Lauded
This under-heralded, but highly praised amongst his peers, blues historian, producer and writer was born Paul Hereford Oliver in Nottingham, England on the 25th of May in 1927.
He wrote the definitive books on blues that fueled the tremendous interest in Europe during the 1960's, continued research and writing, and became the reference for those scholars in the very States the bluesmen played. His work is all the more mind-blowing when one discovers he was really an architect professionally.
His book, Blues Fell This Morning became for many the must companion piece for musical anthologies put on wax like his own complitation by the same name, and subtitled - Rare Recordings of Southern Blues Singers.
He was the inspiration for scores of Blues experts. They have provided a webpage homage -- compiled by Eric LeBlanc -- honoring this great blues mentor. Its list reads like a Who's Who of the Blues:
- Alan Balfour - Contributor, Blues & Rhythm magazine, Southampton, UK.
- Larry Cohn - Sony Music, US
- Scott Dirks - Producer, author, harmonica player; Scottyboy's Blues Page; Chicago, IL.
- Robert M. W. Dixon - co-author, Blues & Gospel Records
- David Evans - Professor Of Music, The University Of Memphis.
- Bill Ferris - Professor, Center for the study of Southern Culture; University Of Mississippi (http://www.cssc.olemiss.edu)
- Paul Garon - Author, researcher, (Oliver asked him to do: The Devil's Son-in-Law: The Story of Peetie Wheatstraw and His Songs ... pub. 1971)
Beasley Books; Chicago, IL., (http://www.abaa-booknet.com/alldlrs/mw/60657bea.html )
- Eric S. LeBlanc - Victoria, Canada
- Peter Lee - Shade Tree Music; Oxford, MS.
- Roger Misiewicz - Document Records.
- André JM Prévos - Professor. He met Paul at Liège for the 2nd Symposium on Religion in African American Music related stories told about their mutal contact
Pennsylvania State University
- Howard Rye - Co-author
Blues & Gospel Records 1890-1943 (4th edition)
- Robert Sacré Professor - Center for American Studies; University of Liège, Belgium,
- Frank Scott - Owner, Roots & Rhythm Mail Order; San Leandro, CA
- Dick Shurman - Producer; Chicago, IL.
- Joel Slotnikoff - BLUES WORLD Web Site; St. Louis, MO.
- Chris Smith - Critic, discographer, contributor;
Blues & Rhythm magazine, Juke Blues, Scotland UK.
- Jeff Titon - Professor Of Music, author: Early Downhome Blues
- Dean Tudor - Professor, School Of Journalism; Ryerson Polytechnic University,
- Bob Vorel - Publisher, Blues Revue Magazine
- Guido van Rijn - Overveen, Netherlands
- Amy Van Singel - Co-founding editor, Living Blues.
- Gorgen Antonsson - Paul Oliver Bibliography, Blues World
One can get a scope of his involvement for 40 plus years in archiving and bringing the esoteric blues to the public when one looks at the list of his books and publications:
- Bessie Smith - London : Cassell, 1959. - 83 pages. - (Kings of jazz 3) new edition., New York: Barnes, 1961.
- Blues Fell This Morning : the meaning of the blues - London : Cassell, 1960. - 355 pages. New York: Horizon, 1960, 355 pages. New edition, titled - The Meaning of the Blues, New York: Collier, 1963, 383 pages; New York: Collier, 1972. - 2., revised edition, titled Blues Fell This Morning: Meaning in the blues, Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1990, xxiv, 348 pages. : illustrated.
Blues Off the Record : Thirty years of blues commentary - Tunbridge Wells : Baton Press ; New York : Hippocrane Books, 1984. - 297 pages, 8 pages of plates : illustrated New edition: New York : Da Capo, 1987.
- Conversation with the blues / Paul Oliver ; illustrated with photographs by the author - London : Cassell, 1965. - xix, 217 pages;
48 pages of plates, New edition: New York: Horizon, 1965; London: Jazz Book Club, 1967; New York: Cambridge University Press, 1997.
- Savannah Syncopators : African Retentions in the Blues. - London : Studio Vista, copyright 1970. - 112 pages : illustrated - US. edition: New York: Stein and Day.
- Screening the Blues : Aspects of the blues tradition. - London : Cassell, 1968. - viii, 294 pages US edition, titled Aspects of the blues tradition, New York: Oak, 1968), . - New edition, New York: Da Capo, 1989.
- Nothing But the Blues: an illustrated documentary -- Chicago blues session.
Blues Articles in:
- Sing Out! (1966)
- Jazz Monthly
- The Lightning Express
- Jazz n Blues
- Melody Maker
- International Musician
- Blues World
- Journal of musicology
- Blues Unlimited
- Popular Music
- Pickin' the Blues
- The American folk music occasional
And others writing about
Muddy Waters, Mississippi John Hurt, Howlin' Wolf, Dobby Bragg or the cultural and musical relevance of the genre.
More than 60 record liner notes!
- Architecture : an invitation -- Paul Oliver and Richard Hayward. - Oxford : Blackwell, 1990
- Dunroamin : the suburban semi and its enemies ... Paul Oliver, Ian Davis, Ian Bentley. - London : Barrie & Jenkins, 1981 New edition: London: Pimlico, 1994
- Dwellings : the house across the world. ... Paul Oliver - Oxford : Phaidon, 1987 US edition: Austin: University of Texas Press, 1987
- Shelter, sign & symbol ... edited by Paul Oliver. - London : Barrie & Jenkins, 1975
- Shelter and society ... edited by Paul Oliver. - London, 1969; New edition: London: Barrie & Jenkins, 1976
- Shelter in Africa ... edited by Paul Oliver. - New York, 1971; New edition: London: Barrie & Jenkins, 1976
- Shelter in Greece ... edited by Orestis B. Doumanis and Paul Oliver. - Athens, copyright 1974
He has spoken numerous times lecturing and demonstrating musically the subject he loves so much.
How fortunate we are he is still available to us -- even as a gentleman in his 70's.