How Belfast Got the Blues: A Cultural History of Popular Music in the 1960s

Noel McLaughlin, Joanna Braniff

Research output: Book/ReportBookpeer-review


Was the first white European blues singer an Irish woman? What links The Rolling Stones to the birth of the Northern Ireland civil rights movement? Did the state suppress the work of a key countercultural director because his film was shot in Belfast in 1965?

This book provides the answers in an engaging and dynamic reconsideration of Belfast’s long-ignored contributions to the popular music and cultural politics of the 1960s. In an expansive socio-cultural history, Noel McLaughlin and Joanna Braniff explore how popular music engaged with and influenced the global cultural and political currents of the decade.

The popular history of Northern Ireland has been overshadowed by the violence of the Troubles. How Belfast Got the Blues offers a corrective, reconsidering the period before 1969 and arguing that popular music in Northern Ireland was central to the politics of the time, in ways not previously understood or explored. By intertwining politics, culture, and unexplored key personalities, the authors reexamine this radical decade and the complex but essential relationship between music and identity in a place where it could mean the difference between life and death.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationBristol
Number of pages550
ISBN (Electronic)9781789382754
ISBN (Print)9781789382747
Publication statusPublished - 4 Dec 2020


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