Blues Blast Magazine 2016 Lifetime Achievement Award
As the CEO of Alligator Records for 45 years, Bruce Iglauer has expanded the definition of blues.
First bitten by the blues bug in 1966 after seeing Mississippi Fred McDowell live, Iglauer agreed to guarantee the costs of concerts by Luther Allison and Howlin’ Wolf at Lawrence College in exchange for complete control of their publicity. Both shows sold out.
He co-founded Living Blues Magazine in 1970 at a time when the only English language blues magazines were Blues World and Blues Unlimited published in England.
While still a shipping clerk at Delmark Records in 1971, Iglauer turned $2500 of inheritance money into his first Alligator Records release, Hound Dog Taylor and The Houserockers and personally delivered copies to college DJs around the country planting the seed for good rockin’ boogie to became color blind among rock hounds who figured out that blues didn’t start – or end – with the Rolling Stones doing “Little Red Rooster.”
Bruce heard blues as art and later signed many other legendary artists like Johnny Winter, James Cotton, Luther Allison and Otis Rush to the Alligator label.
In 1975 he’d signed The Queen of The Blues Koko Taylor and released her I Got What It Takes album. The former Chess Records artist would go on to record a total of nine Alligator records, eight of which were nominated for Grammy Awards. By the time of her death in 2009, she had won 25 W. C. Handy Awards, more than any other artist.
Alligator took home its first Grammy in 1982 for Clifton Chenier’s I’m Here and cracked Billboard’s Top 200 two years later with Johnny Winter’s Guitar Slinger, a return-to-the-roots album that became the label’s 14th Grammy nomination. Iglauer teamed Albert Collins, Robert Cray and Johnny Copeland for Showdown, the 1985 Grammy winner for Best Blues Recording.
Alligator went on to become the world’s largest independent contemporary blues label. It was the first blues label to transfer from vinyl to CDs and was among the first labels to market its catalog over the internet. Today, the Alligator catalog includes almost 300 albums, 125 produced or co-produced by Iglauer.
A half a century into this game, Iglauer continues his uncanny ability of presenting vital new artists like Toronzo Cannon, Selwin Birchwood and Moreland & Arbuckle.
In recognition of an amazing career that has helped to elevate blues to its true place as a proud example of American culture, Blues Blast Magazine is proud to present its 2016 Lifetime Achievement Award to Mr. Bruce Iglauer.