W.C. Handy didn’t discover the blues, but he was the first to put it in writing. When he published the sheet music for “The Memphis Blues” in 1912, Handy ultimately brought the genre from its niche audiences to the mainstream.
Originally titled “Mr. Crump”, he wrote the song for Memphis democrat Edward Crump’s 1909 mayoral campaign. After reworking, Handy released it as “The Memphis Blues” three years later. His signature style of 12-bar blues incorporated a three-chord harmonic structure that drew influence from honky-tonk and folk.
Handy became one of America’s most influential songwriters — the self-proclaimed, “Father of the Blues.”
– Margaret Willard, The 100 Companies