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Skiffle is a type of folk music with a jazz and blues influence, usually using homemade or improvised instruments such as the washboard, tea chest bass, kazoo, cigar-box fiddle, comb and paper, and so forth, as well as more conventional instruments such as acoustic guitar and banjo. Skiffle and jug band music are closely related. It was particularly popular in Britain during the 1950s and 1960s.

Skiffle first became popular in the early 1900s in the United States, starting in New Orleans. The Oxford English Dictionary states that "skiffle" was a slang term for "rent party."

Originally, skiffle groups were referred to as "spasm bands." By the 1920s and 1930s, a form of skiffle was being played in Louisville and Memphis. Skiffle's roots are also found in the jazz bands of the 1940s and 1950s.

The first use of the name on records was in 1925 by the otherwise unknown Jimmy O'Bryant and his Chicago Skifflers. In 1948 Dan Burley & His Skiffle Boys, led by barrelhouse piano player and journalist Burley, brought together New Orleans bassist Pops Foster, and guitar-playing brothers Brownie and Sticks McGhee.

Skiffle became extremely popular in the United Kingdom in the late 1950s. Skiffler Lonnie Donegan had major international success with the Leadbelly song, "Rock Island Line" and the novelty song "Does Your Chewing Gum Lose It's [sic] Flavour on the Bedpost Over Night?" Other well known British skiffle groups include The Gin Mill Skiffle Group, and The Quarry Men, who later became the The Beatles. In the 1984 mockumentary This is Spinal Tap, the fictitious rock group Spinal Tap had its beginnings in skiffle, as The Lovely Lads.

Mick Jagger was a member of the Barber-Colyer Skiffle Band but claims he did not really enjoy skiffle music. Nonetheless, it was the popularity of simple skiffle music that opened young Britons' eyes to the idea that they could play music and have hit records. The result, several years later, was the musical explosion called the British Invasion (1964-66).

Several decades following the British Invasion, American indie rock bands like Guided By Voices would imitate the "Brit pop" of the 1960s with affected faux-English accents. Only some would go as far as the Strapping Fieldhands and actually mimic their skiffle roots (even going so far as to have a song named "Lonnie Donegan's Mum's Tea Chest").


Skiffle bands

At present, a number of skiffle bands are active, with most groups being based in various European nations. These groups include:







United Kingdom

United States

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Music Sound, v. 2.0, by MultiMedia

This guide is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia.

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