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Posts Tagged ‘Junior Wells’

RIP, James Cotton (March 16, 2017) Blues Great

Posted by themusicsover on March 16, 2017

James Cotton
July 1, 1935 – March 16, 2017

Photo: Brian McMillen /

According to a press release from Alligator Records, world-renowned blues harmonica master James Cotton, whom Rolling Stone called, “One of the greats of all time, burning with brilliant virtuosity,” died on March 16, 2017 of pneumonia at St. David’s Medical Center in Austin, Texas. He was 81. His overwhelmingly powerful harmonica playing was one of the iconic sounds of the blues. He toured worldwide for over 60 years.

Born on a cotton plantation in Tunica, Mississippi on July 1, 1935, Cotton was a working musician by age nine. He learned harmonica directly from Sonny Boy Williamson II (Rice Miller), toured with Williamson and Howlin’ Wolf, and recorded for Sun Records in 1953 before spending 12 years touring and recording with Muddy Waters (starting at age 20). Cotton was featured on Muddy’s famous 1960 At Newport LP on Chess Records, including the iconic version of Got My Mojo Working, one of the classic recordings of Chicago Blues.

After his 1953 Sun sessions, Cotton didn’t record under his own name again until the mid-1960s, with tracks included in the groundbreaking Chicago/The Blues/Today! series of LPs on Vanguard. Along with Otis Spann, he cut The Blues Never Die! for Prestige.

In 1966 he formed The James Cotton Band, quickly earning a reputation as one of the most commanding and potent live blues performers in the world—a man who could literally suck the reeds out of his harmonica from the pure force of his playing. He made his initial solo albums, three for Verve and one for Vanguard, in the late 1960s.

Cotton’s blistering talent and full-throttle energy kept him in demand at concert halls all over the country. He played the Fillmore East in New York, the Fillmore West in San Francisco and every major rock and blues venue in between. During the 1970s, he cut three albums for Buddah and one for Capitol.

Cotton signed with Alligator Records in 1984, releasing two solo albums and the famed Harp Attack! with Junior Wells, Carey Bell and Billy Branch. He won a Grammy Award in 1996 for his Verve album, Deep In The Blues and recorded four albums for Telarc Records before returning to Alligator in 2010. His most recent recording was 2013’s Grammy-nominated Cotton Mouth Man.

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Died On This Date (August 20, 2008) Phil Guy / Blues Guitarist; Brother Of Buddy Guy

Posted by themusicsover on August 20, 2010

Phil Guy
April 28, 1940 – August 20, 2008

Like his older brother Buddy Guy, Phil Guy was one of blues’ true greats.  Born in Louisiana, he too was a guitarist who eventually settled in Chicago and became synonymous with the sound that bears its name.  While in Chicago he played with such greats as Junior Wells before establishing his own recording career in the ’80s and ’90s.  Guy died of pancreatic cancer at the age of 68.

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Phil Guy

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Died On This Date (June 1, 1948) Sonny Boy Williamson I / Blues Great

Posted by themusicsover on June 1, 2010

John “Sonny Boy” Williamson
March 30, 1914 – June 1, 1948

Not to be confused with Rice “Sonny Boy Williamson II” Miller, another blues harmonica player, Sonny Boy Williamson was by all accounts the first on the scene to use the Sonny Boy moniker. As one of the most popular blues artists of his generation, Williamson was an influence on the likes of Junior Wells, Snooky Pryor, and Little Walter, as well as several non-harmonica players including Muddy Waters and even Jimmie Rodgers. He was both band leader and sideman during his career, mostly recording for the legendary Bluebird Records label. And his biggest hit “Good Morning Little Schoolgirl” is one of the most covered song of the era, having been re-recorded by such artists as Eric Clapton, the Allman Brothers, the Grateful Dead, Steppenwolf, Van Morrison, Rod Stewart, Muddy Waters, and perhaps most famously, the Yardbirds. Sadly, as he was walking home from a gig near his home on Chicago’s south side, Williamson was killed during a random mugging.

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Sonny Boy Williamson Vol. 1 (1937 - 1938) - Sonny Boy Williamson

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Died On This Date (May 4, 1987) Paul Butterfield / Blues Great

Posted by themusicsover on May 4, 2010

Paul Butterfield
December 17, 1942 – May 4, 1987

Photo by David Plastik – Click To Order Quality Prints – Discount code: 10OFF

Paul Butterfield was a harmonica player and  singer who was an integral part of the growth of blues rock.  He was also part of the Chicago scene of the early ’60s that introduced the blues to middle class white kids.  He was also one of the few “blues” artists that performed at Woodstock.  In his early days, Butterfield, along with friend Elvin Bishop, played with the likes of Muddy Waters, Junior Wells and Howlin’ Wolf.  He spent the next two decades performing and recording with various versions of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band. Butterfield suffered a fatal heart attack on May 4, 1987. He was 44.

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The Paul Butterfield Blues Band - The Paul Butterfield Blues Band

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Died On This Date (March 28, 1974) Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup / Mississippi Blues Great

Posted by themusicsover on March 28, 2010

Arthur Crudup
August 24, 1905 – March 28, 1974


Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup was a Mississippi blues man who, even though his “That’s Alright, Mama” became one of Elvis Presley’s biggest hits, he still had to work most of his life as a laborer and moonshiner to put food on the table.  And even though there are countless other covers of his tunes, he still lived in near poverty for his entire life. Besides Presley, artists like Bob Dylan, Creedance Clearwater Revival, John Lee Hooker, Wanda Jackson, Elton John, Junior Wells and the Stray Cats owe a lot more than just gratitude to Arthur Crudup who had to labor most of his life until he passed away from complications of heart disease and diabetes at 71.

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