Author Topic: List of Harmonica Players, Muddy Waters' Band, 1947-'83  (Read 598 times)

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Offline John Broecker

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List of Harmonica Players, Muddy Waters' Band, 1947-'83
« on: February 06, 2023, 06:10:39 PM »
PART ONE: INTRODUCTION

JB: USA's blues music has always been a major part
of African Americans' music culture, and has gained
national and world-wide popularity.

Historically, blues music was the first music form/style
invented in the USA. It serves as the foundation for all
USA-invented popular music styles.

The Muddy Waters blues band was the originator of the
"Chicago Sound" (using amplified guitars and amplified
harmonica).

In this article, my words are (in parenthesis).

This article was written by Pete Sheridan, a
professional blues musician (harp, guitar and
mandolin), teacher and writer, whose articles &
comments have appeared in Living Blues Magazine,
Guitar Player Magazine, Blues Access Magazine,
and the Guitar Player Book.

This article was first published in the American
Harmonica News Magazine (AHN), December
2001 issue.


SHERIDAN:
In response to inquiries from several of my
students and other players, I did intensive
research on this subject.

The following is a list of the harp players who
held down the harp chair in the various line-ups
of the Muddy Waters Band over the years.

Dates are approximate in some instances, but,
as accurate as records allow, according to the
results of my research.

In particular, 1967 seems to have been a time
of short term of "musical chairs", with George
Buford and Walter Horton
staying only for
short periods.

Willie Foster was a part-time player for Muddy,
as he had his own group in St. Louis, and often
played with Muddy on road gigs, when the regular
band (Muddy's) was back in Chicago, playing
without him.

Willie was also an emergency substitute (in Muddy's
band) for Henry Strong, who was stabbed to
death by Henry's girlfriend.

He (Henry) died in the backseat of Muddy's car,
on the way to the hospital. According to Little
Walter
, "she only meant to cut him" (Henry).
Henry never recorded with Muddy.

Continued in Part Two.

JB
« Last Edit: February 07, 2023, 08:51:54 AM by John Broecker »
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Offline John Broecker

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Re: List of Harmonica Players, Muddy Waters' Band, 1947-'83
« Reply #1 on: February 06, 2023, 07:07:43 PM »
Muddy Watters' Band, Part Two:

SHERIDAN:
On occasions when Big Walter (Horton)
was a band member, he was replaced
when he didn't or couldn't make the gig.

George "Mojo" Buford gets the prize for
dependability. He always answered the call
when Muddy needed him.

Smokey Smothers only joined the band for a
couple of months, in between Buford's stays.

Paul Butterfield played with Muddy frequently
in Chicago and recorded with him, but never
toured with the band.

Charlie Musselwhite likewise also played with
Muddy in Chicago, and recorded with the band,
but never toured.

Paul Oscher's term with the band was temporarily
interrupted in 1967, when he had pneumonia.
Birmingham Jones filled in for Paul.

Starting with Little Walter, many of the above
listed harmonica players continued to record with
Muddy after they had ceased to tour with Muddy.

The first time Litle Walter "officially" recorded at the
Chess sessions, was summer, 1950, though he and
Muddy had recorded together previously for the
Parkway label in January of that year.

Continued in Part Three.
« Last Edit: February 06, 2023, 08:25:28 PM by John Broecker »
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Re: List of Harmonica Players, Muddy Waters' Band, 1947-'83
« Reply #2 on: February 06, 2023, 07:28:35 PM »
Continued, Part Three:

SHERIDAN:
The Parkway session, not approved by
Leonard Chess (Chess Records),
produced the 1st, and arguably the best,
two-part version of "Rollin' & Tumblin",
with Baby Face Leroy Foster on drums.

Muddy and Little Walter first recorded together
backing Sunnyland Slim in 1948, on the
Tempo Tone label.

Jimmy Rogers was a veteran harp player, in
addition to his exemplary abilities on guitar. Before
Little Walter joined Muddy in his first classic band,
Jimmy often played harp on gigs' tunes with Muddy.

And, Muddy himself was a harp player before he
picked up the guitar. So, the connection between a
harp and Muddy's music was made at the start of
his career.

Muddy always called the harp (harmonica) the heart
of his band.

JB:
Pete Sheridan is the author of "The Quest for Tone in
Amplified Blues Harp", a text that has received acclaim
from harp players world-wide.


The chronology of the Muddy Waters' Band will be listed
in the final chapter, Part Four. See You There...JB
« Last Edit: February 07, 2023, 01:18:59 AM by John Broecker »
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Re: List of Harmonica Players, Muddy Waters' Band, 1947-'83
« Reply #3 on: February 06, 2023, 08:20:39 PM »
Continued, Part Four:

JB:

ABOUT MUDDY WATERS
McKinley Morganfield (Muddy Waters, 1915-1983)
was born in Rolling Fork, Mississippi, USA. He played
harmonica from ages 9-17, then started to play the guitar,
never returning to the harp.

He moved to Chicago in 1943, where he started playing the
electric guitar. He became the major influence on the Chicago
amplified blues sound.  He was a creative band leader, with
his bands using the instrumentation of future blues and
rock 'n' roll groups.

His bands provided musical exposure to many of the mid-to-late
20th century's greatest USA harmonica players. He died in 1983.

MUDDY WATERS' BAND: HARMONICA PLAYERS

1. Marion "Little Walter" Jacobs (1930-'68); in the band, 1947-'52

2. Junior Wells (Amos Blakemore, 1934-'98); in the band, 1952-53

3. "Big Walter" Horton (1917-'81); in the band, 1953

4. Henry "Pot" Strong; in the band, 1953-'54 (died in 1954)

5. "Little Willie" Foster (born 1922); 1953-'54

6. Alan George "Harmonica" Smith (1924-'83); in the band, 1954-'55

7. Junior Wells; in the band, 1955

8.Henry James Cotton (Joe Denim, 1935-2017); in the band 1955-'61

9. George "Mojo" Buford (born 1929); 1961-'62

10. Otis "Smokey" Smothers; 1962

11. George "Mojo" Buford; 1962-'63

12. James Cotton; 1963-'66

13. Alan George "Harmonica" Smith; 1966-'67

14. George "Mojo" Buford; 1967

15. "Big Walter" Horton; 1967

16. Paul Oscher; 1967

17. Birmingham Jones (born 1937); 1967-68

18. Paul Oscher, 1968-'70

19. Carey Bell Harrington (born 1936); 1970-'71

20. George "Mojo" Buford; 1971-'74

21. Jerry Portnoy (born 1943); 1974-'80

22. George "Mojo" Buford; 1980-'83

Das Is Allez, Gonsalez

Best Regards, Stay Healthy

JB
« Last Edit: February 07, 2023, 08:48:05 AM by John Broecker »
Bob Uecker, Catcher, Announcer, USA Baseball: "The best way to catch a knuckleball is to wait for it to stop rolling on the ground, then pick it up."

Offline lflisboa

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Re: List of Harmonica Players, Muddy Waters' Band, 1947-'83
« Reply #4 on: February 08, 2023, 10:41:28 AM »
According to Muddy's himself on Jim O'Neal and Amy Van Singel's "The Voice of the Blues", Willie Foster never played with him. He also lists who played with him (as a Muddy Waters' band member) and Otis "Smokey" Smothers name is not on the list too. Worth mention Jeff Carp too, that recorded but did not toured with him.

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Re: List of Harmonica Players, Muddy Waters' Band, 1947-'83
« Reply #5 on: February 08, 2023, 12:43:19 PM »
Hello, Iflisboa.

Thanks for that information, from Muddy, himself. :)

Pete Sheridan is a reliable source of information.
Pete may have gotten the information from LP
recordings jackets. ???

Now, I don't know whom to believe. ;D

Best Regards, Stay Healthy.

JB
Bob Uecker, Catcher, Announcer, USA Baseball: "The best way to catch a knuckleball is to wait for it to stop rolling on the ground, then pick it up."

Offline Danny G

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Re: List of Harmonica Players, Muddy Waters' Band, 1947-'83
« Reply #6 on: February 08, 2023, 03:07:38 PM »
We went to see Jason Ricci recently who was performing with Lurrie Bell.
Lurrie is the son of #19 on the list Carey Bell Harrington (born 1936); 1970-'71
Lurrie sang and played guitar, Jason did what Jason does best by blowing everyone away with his harmonica.
Jason opened by playing a very beautiful rendition of Summertime on a diatonic.

Offline lflisboa

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Re: List of Harmonica Players, Muddy Waters' Band, 1947-'83
« Reply #7 on: February 09, 2023, 07:09:29 AM »
I have a Willie Foster CD, and I think he claims to inspired Willie Dixon's "I'm Ready" song. I don't remember if he claims to be part Muddy Waters' band too. I'll check, but the only evidence we have nowadays it what was recorded, and as far I know is that neither Otis "Smokey" Smothers or Willie Foster recorded with Muddy. Maybe he played as a "pick up" band while Muddy toured around south.
Rick Estrin, Kim Wilson and Rod Piazza (I guess) also played with Muddy, but weren't part of Muddy's regular band. I wonder how great would be a recording of Muddy with these guys.

Hello, Iflisboa.

Thanks for that information, from Muddy, himself. :)

Pete Sheridan is a reliable source of information.
Pete may have gotten the information from LP
recordings jackets. ???

Now, I don't know whom to believe. ;D

Best Regards, Stay Healthy.

JB

Offline lflisboa

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Re: List of Harmonica Players, Muddy Waters' Band, 1947-'83
« Reply #8 on: February 09, 2023, 07:21:14 AM »
I met Carey Bell on 2 ocasions. I've heard he'd be pissed that people were more interested about his time with Muddy than his longer solo work, so I never asked about his time with his famous boss. I think he was not a great performer but sure a great bluesman, with his own voice (singing and playing).
We went to see Jason Ricci recently who was performing with Lurrie Bell.
Lurrie is the son of #19 on the list Carey Bell Harrington (born 1936); 1970-'71
Lurrie sang and played guitar, Jason did what Jason does best by blowing everyone away with his harmonica.
Jason opened by playing a very beautiful rendition of Summertime on a diatonic.