The blues grew out of the plantations and prisons, the swampy marshes and fertile cotton fields of the Mississippi Delta. With original research and keen insights, Ted Gioia--the author of a landmark study of West Coast jazz and the critically acclaimed The History of Jazz--brings to life the stirring music of the Delta, evoking the legendary figures who shaped its sound and ethos: Robert Johnson, Charley Patton, Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, Howlin' Wolf, B. B. King, and others. Tracing the history of the Delta blues from the field hollers and plantation music of the nineteenth century to the exploits of modern-day musicians in the Delta tradition, Delta Blues tells the full story of this timeless and unforgettable music. No cultural force boasts such humble origins or such world-conquering reverberations. In this evocative rags-to-riches tale, Gioia shows how the sounds of the Delta altered the course of popular music in America and in the world beyond.