Author Topic: Harmonica Players in Hollywood (USA) Movies, TV Shows  (Read 719 times)

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Offline John Broecker

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Harmonica Players in Hollywood (USA) Movies, TV Shows
« on: October 02, 2022, 07:44:18 PM »
I've often wondered who was the better
harmonica player, Hollywood actors
Charles Bronson or Jimmy Stewart?
Bruce Willis or Don Knotts?

Those actors never blew a note in the
movies. Their playing was recorded by
a pro player, such as Tommy Morgan or
Kim Wilson.

There were a few known harp players,
actors who actually played in the movies:
Walter Brennan, Dub Taylor, Edward
Arnold, John Barrymore, Lee Jacobs
(Lee J. Cobb) and others.

There were some great harp players
in the movies, such as Larry & Jerry
Adler; The Harmonica Rascals, and
more.

So, which actors were the best harp
players, in their personal lives?

In Your opinion. This is a subjective
question.

Don't include professional harmonica
players.

Best Regards, Stay Healthy

JB

« Last Edit: October 10, 2022, 01:20:21 PM by John Broecker »
"Elton John is right up there with David Bowie."--Rick Harrison, "Pawn Stars" TV show, USA. Rick is discussing collectibles.

Offline Age

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Re: Harmonica Players in Hollywood (USA) Movies, TV Shows
« Reply #1 on: October 02, 2022, 08:31:57 PM »
Actually Willis does play the suck-harp, (sorta) almost approaching "mediocre." IOW, even worse than I do. :P

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Offline Grizzly

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Re: Harmonica Players in Hollywood (USA) Movies, TV Shows
« Reply #2 on: October 02, 2022, 10:59:37 PM »
Willis? Actually, not too bad. Some skill there, at least keeps a beat. Found his groove.

Tom
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Offline Scotty

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Re: Harmonica Players in Hollywood (USA) Movies, TV Shows
« Reply #3 on: October 03, 2022, 12:55:00 AM »
I thought I read somewhere that Charles Bronson actually did play a diatonic, but clearly did not play the chromatic riff in
the movies he was given credit for.

Anyway - Bruce Willis - not too bad, for the particularly fast piece of music Paul Shaeffer and the tonight show band were
playing. Didn't I read somewhere that he later took lessons from - possibly, Bonfiglio? (Robert doesn't only teach Classical
chromatic. Rob Paparozzi was a student of his and he plays both).

scotty

Offline John Broecker

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Re: Harmonica Players in Hollywood (USA) Movies, TV Shows
« Reply #4 on: October 08, 2022, 09:09:38 AM »
And, what about Dan Aykroyd?

Jim Belushi?

Are they really playing blues harp?

Whenever I see them playing harp
in movies or on TV, their harp parts
with The Blues Brothers or other
bands are muted by the sound techs,
or it sems that they're visually faking.

Billy Joel actually plays the harp
in the tune, The Piano Man, his
first big hit.

What's your opinion of these blues
harp players?

Best Regards, Stay Healthy

JB
« Last Edit: October 08, 2022, 09:13:14 AM by John Broecker »
"Elton John is right up there with David Bowie."--Rick Harrison, "Pawn Stars" TV show, USA. Rick is discussing collectibles.

Offline SlideMeister

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Re: Harmonica Players in Hollywood (USA) Movies, TV Shows
« Reply #5 on: October 08, 2022, 02:26:05 PM »
AFAIK, Jimmy Stewart was not a player, but he did the flat-out best imitation of (any kind) of a harmonica player I ever saw in the movies.

Another personal opinion: (cut in stone ::)) Billy Joel is in the same class as Bob Dylan and "Mila" (the little seven year old girl that lives next door) all share the same level expertise.  Not positive, but Ackroyd (I think) can actually play a bit.

Offline Gnarly He Man

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Offline John Broecker

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Re: Harmonica Players in Hollywood (USA) Movies, TV Shows
« Reply #7 on: October 09, 2022, 03:58:52 AM »
Sorry, A.J. This should have been filed
in the Diatonic section of SlideMeister
Forums.


Jerry Adler coached Jimmy Stewart.

In the Hollywood movie, Pot O' Gold,
Stewart imitated playing the harp.

According to Adler, Jimmy tried to actually
play the diatonic harp in the movie, but
he was continuously playing wrong notes.

So, they covered the mouthpiece with tape.
For one scene's recording, Jerry removed
the tape, as a prank.

Jimmy blew onto the harp, getting harp
sounds.

"Hey, did I do that?", Jimmy asked.
Everyone had a good laugh.

Later, Jimmy was a bomber pilot in
the US Army Air Corps over Germany
in World War 2. The name of the
military branch was later changed
to "U.S. Air Force".

By the mid-1940s, Jimmy was good
enough on the harp, to play real
tunes on the harp. He continued
study with Adler after the war.

Billy Joel, as A.J. wrote, is like
Bob Dylan's level of playing.
But, I'd say that Billy's playing is
better than Bob's. Where Dylan
played mostly chordal sounds, Joel
played chordal, then melodic sounds.

In 2001, I transcribed 8 harp players'
tunes for the Hal Leonard Fast Track
Harmonica Songbook 1.


Transcriptions of Blowin' in the Wind,
as played by Dylan; and Piano Man,
as played by Joel, were 2 of the 8 tunes.

Other tunes included

Back at the Chicken Shack,
as played by Charlie Musselwhite;

I'm Your Hoochie Coochie Man,
as played by Muddy Waters;

Love Me Do,
as played by John Lennon;

Miss You,(Rolling Stones)
as played by Sugar Blue;

Wonderful Tonight,
as played by Eric Clapton;

You Really Got Me, (The Kinks),
as played by Ray Davies.

Hal Leonard wanted exact transcriptions,
so I did that. But when the songbook was
published, I noticed that a few of the songs
were simplified. The songbook was made
easier for new harp players.

Best Regards, Stay Healthy

JB
« Last Edit: October 10, 2022, 08:55:12 AM by John Broecker »
"Elton John is right up there with David Bowie."--Rick Harrison, "Pawn Stars" TV show, USA. Rick is discussing collectibles.

Offline Bernie9

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Re: Harmonica Players in Hollywood (USA) Movies, TV Shows
« Reply #8 on: October 09, 2022, 06:43:06 AM »
JB
It amazes me how you come up with these historical tidbits. Between you, Scotty Grizz, and others, I have learned a great deal.  What I will ever do with this historical wealth is another question. lol
You are all great, thanks.

Offline John Broecker

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Re: Harmonica Players in Hollywood (USA) Movies, TV Shows
« Reply #9 on: October 09, 2022, 10:29:03 AM »
Bernie, thanks for the compliment.

Here are 6 excellent harmonica history books,
used as resources. If you are interested in
the story of the harmonica, but can afford only
one book, choose the first book listed here:

1. Harmonica Makers of Germany & Austria,
by Martin Haffner & Lars Lindenmuller,
published by the Deutsches Harmonika Museum,
Trossingen, Germany. About the manufacturers.

2. The Encyclopedia of the Harmonica, by
Peter Krampert, Tatanka Publishing. A
profiles book of famous and not-so-famous
harmonica players.

3. Harmonicas, Harps, & Heavy Breathers,
by Kim Field,Cooper Square Press. An
excellent documentary about the people who
made harmonica playing popular.

4 & 5. A Band in a Waistcoat Pocket; and
Boomerangs & Crackajacks; both books by
Ray Grieve. The history of harmonicas &
players in Australia, possibly available from
the author, at:    www.bushlarkmusic.com

6. Archaic Adventures: The History of Harmonica
Evolution: 2696 BC to 2012 AD;
by John Broecker,
published by Broecker, out of print. You might get a
copy from him, I know him personally. Contact him at: 
email:   johnbroecker1962@outlook.com

There are biographies of famous harmonica players:
Larry Adler; Jerry Adler; Pete Pedersen; Little Walter;
Stevie Wonder;
and a few others. I don't have info
on those, but you might find the publishers, under
the harpists' names, at
www.Wikipedia.org

Best Regards, Stay Healthy

JB

« Last Edit: October 09, 2022, 10:42:58 AM by John Broecker »
"Elton John is right up there with David Bowie."--Rick Harrison, "Pawn Stars" TV show, USA. Rick is discussing collectibles.

Offline Scotty

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Re: Harmonica Players in Hollywood (USA) Movies, TV Shows
« Reply #10 on: October 10, 2022, 01:54:26 AM »
John: I believe that was Age who wrote about Billy Joel. I actually think he was a far better harmonica player than most
people think - especially after I saw an early video of him playing a harp in a rack while playing piano and singing Piano
Man onstage....in his days of what can only be described as having an afro hairstyle and dark sunglasses. The audience
was thrilled to hear him. I don't believe it was in the US but can't seem to find the video, now. If I do, I'll post it here.

scotty
PS: he grew up here on Long Island - a town named Hicksville, believe it or not. I have a relative by marriage who was in
his class, said Billy was already very talented even then.

Offline Gnarly He Man

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Re: Harmonica Players in Hollywood (USA) Movies, TV Shows
« Reply #11 on: October 10, 2022, 06:21:33 AM »
Billy Joel was in a band with Jon Small called the Hassles, then in a duo called Attila. Jon was married to Elizabeth, The future Mrs. Billy Joel.
Here’s the scoop on all that.
https://spockandchristine.com/biography/elizabeth-ann-weber/
I liked his first real solo album, here’s a YouTube link.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Sz7DfK8whc

Offline John Broecker

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Re: Harmonica Players in Hollywood (USA) Movies, TV Shows
« Reply #12 on: October 10, 2022, 08:59:11 AM »
Hello, Scotty and A.J.

Thanks for the correction about
Billy Joel's harmonica playing.

I made the update in reply #7.

Best Regards, Stay Healthy

JB
"Elton John is right up there with David Bowie."--Rick Harrison, "Pawn Stars" TV show, USA. Rick is discussing collectibles.

Offline Age

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Re: Harmonica Players in Hollywood (USA) Movies, TV Shows
« Reply #13 on: October 10, 2022, 12:20:40 PM »
This kinda goes along with the Craig Ferguson thread.

There's nothing wrong with being and average player. Heck, the average harmonica player can already do something 99.9% of homo-sapiens cannot, so we can all recognize what we do as a considerable accomplishment. 8)  That being said, my personal rule of thumb is: a "GOOD" player is not defined by (non-harmonica based) fame, recognition, or whatever but rather, can he/she actually play a harmonica better than a happy, average player like myself. Genuine "professionalism" is sposta "dazzle!" If it doesn't, adding celebrity status is just cheating! Bottom line: If any of us can hold their own against Billy Joel or Bob Dylan, (which we all can) they can't be all that hot. :)
IMO, of course.
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Offline Scotty

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Re: Harmonica Players in Hollywood (USA) Movies, TV Shows
« Reply #14 on: October 10, 2022, 05:10:43 PM »
This isn't the clip I saw of him with his afro, dark glasses and a cigarette hanging out of his mouth (he joked that he
was creating a 'sleazy jazz club vibe'. But, it's from 1984 I believe - so around ten years after Piano Man was first
recorded. I'm paying attention to his singing, piano playing and the harp and think he moves seamlessly between
all three, fwiw. True, there are far better diatonic players, but this well-known riff which opens this song works.
IMO, of course. ;)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sCpI1owaNTU

scotty