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Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Little Walter in Oxford (England)

It was in 1964 that I saw Little Walter perform live at Oxford Town Hall. I was recalling that concert/hop while listening to a Little Walter CD on my car stereo. I'd forgotten just how good he was. The Master of the amplified blues-harp. Little Walter died in 1968 (aged 37), apparently as a result of a fight. He wasn't particularly approachable that night in Oxford.

By 1964, I'd already been playing blues harp for two years (I've still got a couple of those 6" 45rpm coin-in-the-slot Calibre booth auto-recording acetate discs to prove it, see above- offers please- for Big Jim's ultra-rare and overloaded 1963 versions of Hoochie Coochie Man and Roll 'Em Pete!), but I had neither microphone nor amplifier, so I wasn't used to the thrillingly distorted and reverberating sound of the horn-like amplified harmonica played live and loud. I'd been listening hard to my Howlin' Wolf, Sonny Boy Williamson, Jimmy Reed and Muddy Waters records, as well as to Sonny Terry and Noah Lewis, but Little Walter was something else.

"I hear you talkin'"

Here is a small YouTube tribute to Little Walter, which was made for his induction into the R 'n' R Hall of Fame.

And here is Little Walter's Jump, from 1967

Little Walter played harp on many Muddy Waters classics, such as Louisiana Blues and I just want to make love to you

"When I run up on Little Walter, he just fitted me...He had a thing on the harp that nobody had...He was much younger than me, but he could really understand the blues and he knew what to put in there and when to put it in there" (Muddy Waters,  quoted by Nadine Cohodas, Spinning Blues Into Gold, p. 68).

Little Walter, Juke

Check out James Cotton too, if you don't know his work. Try Coast Blues (great blues sax and mouth-harp)

Carey Bell could also play a mean harp.

Boogie with Big Walter Horton

George "Harmonica" Smith

Snooky Pryor

Not forgetting Cyril Davies and Paul Jones, and Paul back in the Manfred Mann days

Improve your harmonica playing with the help of these blues backing tracks

1 comment:

  1. excellent thanks. i first heard little walter on wgbh boston when a honey voiced lady presenter kicked off with pinetop perkins and then played great other music incl little W