One step from the Blues

Martin Newman celebrates the career of Bobby Parker, the legendary bluesman to whom John Lennon, Jimmy Page and Carlos Santana all acknowledged a debt

One step from the Blues

Bobby Parker’s career spans more than 50 years, but for a whole generation of fans and musicians he is legendary for one thing – the explosive, astonishing guitar riff on his classic 1961 single Watch Your Step.

The disc was originally released in the UK on London America and reissued a few years later on Sue, as a single and as part of the era-defining This Is Sue album.

It instantly grabbed the attention of the British groups who were drawing heavily on American R&B for their material. Watch Your Step was initially covered by the John Barry 7, an early effort by the man who went on to write James Bond and other film soundtracks. Later followed versions by The Spencer Davis Group, Manfred Mann, The Undertakers, The Walker Brothers, Dr Feelgood, and many more over the years.

The riff that formed the basis of the song also gave birth to Moby Dick by Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple’s Rat Bat Blue, The Allman Brothers’ One Way Out, I’m Not Talking by The Yardbirds and New World Order by Gamma Ray, to mention just a few.

It is also the riff used by The Beatles to introduce I Feel Fine. Talking about his favourite records on his jukebox, John Lennon was recorded as saying: “This is an early 60s record by Bobby Parker which I call son of What’d I Say. I mean there was a great record by Ray …

by Martin Newman
<< Back to Issue 381

You must be a subscriber to view the full article, subscribe now for full access to all online content.

Or, you can buy this issue directly from us. For the magazine click here

Already a Magazine Subscriber? Register now for online access.

You might also like: