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'Mercury Blues' Still Running after 60 Years
Cars make great musical metaphors, and they’ve inspired some famous blues songs like “Cadillac Boogie”, “Maybelline” and “Mustang Sally”. K.C. Douglas came out with “Mercury Boogie” in 1949, a song that would go on to be a widely covered blues standard, known as “Mercury Blues”. Ford purchased the rights to the song for advertising (“Crazy ‘Bout a Ford Truck”), and it was a #2 hit for country singer Alan Jackson in 1993.
K.C. Douglas was born in Mississippi and as a young man in the 1930’s performed with the influential bluesman Tommy Johnson. After relocating to the Bay Area, Douglas continued to record and perform into his 70’s.
Steve Miller began his career with an interest in blues. After playing in the Chicago blues scene in the mid 60’s, he headed to San Francisco, eventually putting his own group together and having considerable success in the commercial music world. Miller released “Mercury Blues” on his album Fly Like an Eagle, which was called the best of album of 1976 by Rolling Stone magazine. Here’s a live clip of Steve Miller performing “Mercury Blues” with Norton Buffalo on harmonica:
Also hailing from the Bay Area, guitarist Roy Rogers played with John Lee Hooker for 4 years before starting his own group. He is one of the most adept slide guitarists on the blues. Rogers teamed up with harmonica virtuoso Norton Buffalo for his 1992 live version of “Mercury Blues”.
Guitarist Jimmy Thackery played with The Nighthawks for many years in the 70’s and 80’s, one of the hardest working blues bands on the East Coast. Since starting his own band, Thackery has been a prolific performer known for his energetic but concise guitar playing. He released “Mercury Blues” in 1994.
Here are the complete versions of “Mercury Blues” tracked through time: