Rhythm and Blues or R&B was a term invented in the US at the end of the 1940s by Billboard. The music trade magazine
coined it to replace "race records", a chart grouping they'd used since the 1920s to separate the work of black artists. Today,
music historians tend to use R&B as a catch-all description.
In the 1960s Britain developed its own version of R&B. But at first it wasn't easy to hear much of the original stuff
here. Radio was, with rare and honourable exceptions, closed to it. Occasional records came back with enlightened travellers,
the American Embassy in London had some gems in their disc library, and Pye's valuable "R&B Series" of US recordings started
to appear around 1960.
But we did get a few precious visitors. Despite the continuation of what amounted to a union ban on almost any US musicians
playing in the UK, some enthusiasts managed to bring in a bluesman or three during the 1950s. Josh White was more a slick
showman than R&B artist, but in July 1950 he became the first black solo singer-guitarist to play in the UK.