Q. Who are some important harmonica artists?

A: There are several that every harmonicist should know at least something about. There was a ~favorites~ poll of harp-l published for harp-l on 10 Jan 95.

(FMI: "Poll: The Players" 10 Jan 95 RB)

20,Little Walter Jacobs
17,Sonny Boy Williamson II(Rice Miller)
9,Junior Wells
9,Big Walter Horton
8,Charlie Musselwhite
8,James Cotton
8,Sonny Terry
7,Paul Butterfield
6,Toots Thielman
5,Howard Levy
4,Peter "Madcat" Ruth
3,Bob Dylan
3,Charlie McCoy
3,Jerry Murad
3,Jimmy Reed
3,Kim Wilson
3,Sugar Blue
3,Tommy Reilly
2,Carey Bell
2,Corky Siegal
2,Darrell Mansfield
2,Dom Sgro
2,Howlin' Wolf
2,James Harman
2,John Gindick
2,John Popper
2,Larry Adler
2,Magic Dick(Richard Salwitz)
2,Norton Buffalo
2,Pete Pedersen
2,Sonny Boy Williamson I(John Lee Williamson)
2,Stevie Wonder
2,Taj Mahal
1,Alan "Blind Owl" Wilson
1,Borah Minnevitch
1,Bruce Willis
1,Curtis Salgado
1,Dan Akyroyd
1,Frank Frost
1,George "Harmonica" Smith
1,Hugh Mckasky
1,Jack Allison
1,Jerry Portnoy
1,John Hammond
1,John Mayall
1,John Sebastian
1,Lee Oskar
1,Little Mike Markowitz
1,Mark Ford
1,Max Geldray
1,Mike Turk
1,Paul Delay
1,Paul Lamb
1,Phil Wiggins
1,Richard Hayman
1,Rick Estrin
1,Robert Bonfiglio
1,Rod Piazza
1,Ross Bon
1,Shakey Jake
1,Slim Harpo
1,Snooky Pryor


Another good source is Kim Field's _Harmonicas, Harps and Heavy Breathers_ from a historical perspective. Many popular artists also play have been listed under miscellaneous with no regard to style or type plated. Many play various kinds of harmonica, so there was no designation for kind of harmonica played, e.g.. chromatic or diatonic, or if they played more than one style, e.g.. blues and rock, etc. Potentially controversial to be sure. Inputs, esp. omissions, welcome -- HA

Blues: Sonny Boy (John Lee) Williamson I, Sonny Terry, Sonny Boy Williamson II (Rice Miller), Little Walter Jacobs and Big Walter Horton are probably the most influential (Chicago) blues harmonica players, even today --BB

Anyone who had the opportunity to play for Muddy Waters is automatically a patron saint of the Chicago sound. The following list is taken from Living Blues 1991, two of which were listed above, and many went on to form their own bands, some are still recording today

(FMI: p 34 of September/October 1991 _Living Blues_, Bob Eagle:

Jimmy Rogers, Little Walter, Junior Wells, Bg Walter, Henry "Pot" Strong, George Smith, "Little Sonny" Willis ?, James Cotton, Isaac Washington, Willie Anderson ?, George "Mojo" Buford, Birmingham Jones, Paul Oscher, Carey Bell, Jerry Portnoy)

Others bluesers of note: Freeman Stowers, Jaybird Coleman, Alfred Lewis, the Carver Boys, Robert Hill, Bobby Leecan, Chuck Darling, Robert Cooksey, Will Shade, Noah Lewis, Jed Davenport, Jazz Gillum, Jimmy Reed, John Lee Henley, Little Willie Foster, Baby Face Leroy, Hot Shot Love, Big John Wrencher, Billy Boy Arnold, Snooky Pryor, Joe Hill Lewis, Dr. Isaiah Ross, Jerry McCain, Sam Myers, Howlin Wolf/Chester Burnett, Rhythm Willie, Papa Alexander Lightfoot, Lazy Lester (Leslie) Johnson, Slim Harpo, Latelle Barton, Paul Butterfield, Charlie Musselwhite, Harmonica Fats, Adam Gussow (Satan and Adam), Rod Piazza, Kim Wilson, William C. Clarke, James Harman, Gary Primich, Sugar Blue (James Whiting), Billy Branch, Sugar Ray Norcia, Steve Guyger, Danny Russo, Mark Wenner (Nighthawks), Paul deLay, Curtis Salgado, Steve Nadella, Madison Slim, Rick Estrin (Night Cats), Mark Hummel, Gary Smith, Kenny Neal. Arthur Moore, Lee McBee, Bill Rhoades, George Mayweather, Hugh Feely, Child Butler, Mike Markowittz, George Williams, Pierre Lacocque, Jean-Jacques Milteau, Lazy Lew Beckers, James Montgomery, Harp Dog Brown.Frank Frost, Raful Neal, Lester Davenport, Johnny Dyer, Provine Hatcch, Jr., Carlos Del Junco,

(FMI: Jerry Portnoy and Clapton 30 Dec 94 KF)

Rock: Cyril Davies, Lee Oskar (WAR), Magic Dick (Richard Salwitz of J./Jay Geils/Bluestime), Norton Buffalo, John Popper (Blues Traveler), John Sebastian, Jr. (Lovin' Spoonful), Al Wilson (Canned Heat), Will Scarlett (Hot Tuna), Corky Siegel, John Mayall, Mark Ford, Andy Just, Doug Jay, Fingers Taylor, Bob Dylan.

(FMI: " Rock?" 18 Feb 94 WY)

Pop: Stevie Wonder, Chris Smith.

Classical: John Sebastian Sr., Larry Adler, Charles Newman, Leo Diamond, Mike Chimes, Pete Pedersen, Richard Hayman, Alan "Blackie" Schackner, Stan Harper, Cham-Ber Huang, Robert Bonfiglio, Adalberto Borioli, Franz Chmel, George Fields, Claude Garden, Rene Giessen, Sigmund Groven, Jim Hughes, Jim Hughes, Maria Wolfsberger, Claude Garden.

(FMI: "Classical Harp Records" 20 Dec 94 WY)

Jazz: Don Les, Toots Thielemans, Henrich Meurkens, Howard Levy, Mike Turk, Peter "Madcat" Ruth, Joe Messina, William Galison, Ron Kalina, Ivan Lins, Mauricio Einhorn.


Folk: Noah Lewis, Will Shade, Jed Davenport, Hammie Nixon, Sonny Terry, Frank LLoyd, Mel Lyman, Mark Graham, Brendan Power, Phil Wiggins, Jesse Fuller

Country: H. "Bert" Bibro, John Henry Howard, George Clark, Dr. Humphry Bate, Herman Crook, DeFord Baily, Lonnie Glosson, Wayne Rainy, Jimmie Riddle, Onie Wheeler, Charly McCoy (Hee Haw), Don Brooks, Micky Raphael, Terry McMillan, Mike Stevens, John Gindick.

TV/Movies: George Fields (var. movies, Moon River), , Eddy Manson, Tommy Morgan (var. movies, Rockford Files) John "Juke" Logan (Rosanne, Home Improvement) Tollak Ollestad (Northern Exposure), Pete Pederson, Mike Chimes.

Misc (occassional players): Louis Myers, John Lennon, Mick Jagger, Keith Relf, Eric Burdon, Spencer Davis, Ray Davies, Dennis Payton, Rick Huxely, Delbert McClinton, Neil Young, John Fogerty, Billy Joel, Clint Black, Tom Petty, (Aerosmyth), Bono, Stan Musial,

(FMI: Re: Pete Pederson" 8 Jan 95 KF) (FMI: "Misc 64X, Pete" 9 Jan 95 JE)

Harmonica Bands/Trios: Borrah Minnevitch Rascals, Harmonicats (Don Les,Jerry Murad ,Al Fiore), Stagg McMann (Emmanualle "Manny" W. Smith, Hugh "Pud" McCaskery, Paul "Stag" Steigerwald, and sometimes Jerry Murad).

(FMI: "STAGG McMANN - OLD MYSTERY" 17 Nov 94 JE/DW) (FMI: "Happy Birthday Jerry Murad" 15 Mar 95) (FMI: "Re: Harmonica Trios" 30 Nov 93 GM)

(FMI: http://www.bekkoame.or.jp/~mshige/player.html) (FMI: "Spanish harps" 28 Nov 94 CH)


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I began collecting data about the microphones used by blue harp players before there was an internet. I began organizing it into JT30.com in the late 1990s. I accumulated more stuff than I remember. This is some of it.

Street Theory

A Harp Player’s Guide to Music Theory

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A guide to learning to play Blues Harp

Microphone Information

Usenet Articles

Harp Amps

I've been collecting Harp Amps for a while. This is the old Harpamps.com website. There is lots of information here. Here a coupld of links.

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A collection of songs and riffs that I’ve worked out over the years, plus some libraries of stuff I’ve converted to tablature. I’ve included most of the notes and instructions that helped me when I was learning to play blues harmonica.

Basic Riffs Simple harp tabs for songs Blues riffs and phrases.

Harp-L Archives 1992 to 2002


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