Major Player of Chicago Blues
When it comes to strutting around the stage and playing the harmonica like a beast! There’s really very few performers that are as memorable as Junior Wells! Not only is he one of many early pioneers that took the blues harp to another level. But he also made sure that people would remember his performances.
Paving the way for future generations of harp players. Luckily in 1996, I got to see Junior Wells live at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. I have to say it definitely was a highlight for me that year! Crazy thing is receiving the “Hoodoo Man Blues” album from a friend is what got me hooked on two amazing artists.
The Early Years
Wells learns how to skillfully play the harmonica at an early age with the likes of Junior Parker and Sonny Boy Williamson II. Shortly after he moves to Chicago with his mother. He wants to expand further on his music and checks out the local scene. So, he starts reaching out to the blues greats that were already playing around Chi-Town! Artists that includes the likes of Tampa Red, Johnny Jones, B.B. King, and others.
They would slip young Junior into the blues clubs to sit in their sets performing with them. After a while, he becomes quite popular around Chicago and plays a variety of gigs around town. He start to play professionally at age 14, and four years later replacing Little Walter in Muddy Waters’ band. Let’s just take a moment…14 years old and playing music with Muddy Waters! It definitely makes you take a step back and reflect on what you managed to accomplish at age 14! Plus, I can kind of see where Wells got his stage attitude back in the day. Considering the musicians that he worked with. You needed an attitude!
Junior Wells and Buddy Guy
Around 1965 Buddy Guy and Junior Wells create a long touring and musical partnership that takes them all over the world. The camaraderie on the stage was the perfect elixir for success! Not only did they tour but they also recorded several albums including the “Live at Montreux in 1977” as well as “Pleading the Blues” and many other great albums. These two worked together for 20 years, they even opened for the Rolling Stones on one of their many world tours.
Sadly, all good things must come to an end and in 1998, at age 63, Junior Wells passes after a long fight with cancer. He was one of the many artists that helped bring the Chicago Blues to the masses.
Furthermore, be sure, to check out the other blog posts: https://jbonamassa.com/jb-blog/
Video Credits: Geoff Hill – Buddy Guy and Junior Wells – Ten Years Ago – live (1974), Foxfireman188 – Little Red Rooster, mick7575