FreeWheelin' Music Safari

Today in Music – 1930 – The Greatest Harmonica Player Ever is Born!

Little WalterToday in 1930, one of the greatest, no the greatest harmonica player was born, Little Walter. Little Walter influenced all the great harp players that came after him, just like Hendrix! He was also the first musician to amplify the harmonica! From Wikipedia:

Little Walter, born Marion Walter Jacobs (May 1, 1930 – February 15, 1968), was an American blues harmonica player, whose revolutionary approach to his instrument has earned him comparisons to Charlie Parker and Jimi Hendrix,[1] for innovation and impact on succeeding generations. His virtuosity and musical innovations fundamentally altered many listeners’ expectations of what was possible on blues harmonica.[2] Little Walter was inducted to the The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2008 in the “sideman” category[3][4] making him the first and only artist ever to be inducted specifically for his work as a harmonica player.

Here is a short film that was played at the induction ceremony

Continuing from Wikipedia:

Music journalist Bill Dahl described Little Walter as “king of all post-war blues harpists”, who “took the humble mouth organ in dazzling amplified directions that were unimaginable prior to his ascendancy.”[2] His legacy has been enormous: he is widely credited by blues historians as the artist primarily responsible for establishing the standard vocabulary for modern blues and blues rock harmonica players.[1][2] His influence can be heard in varying degrees in virtually every modern blues harp player who came along in his wake, from blues greats such as Junior Wells, James Cotton, George “Harmonica” Smith, Carey Bell, and Big Walter Horton, through modern-day masters Sugar Blue, Billy Branch, Kim Wilson, Rod Piazza, William Clarke, and Charlie Musselwhite, in addition to blues-rock crossover artists such as Paul Butterfield and John Popper of the band Blues Traveler.[1] Little Walter was portrayed in the 2008 film, Cadillac Records, by Columbus Short.

Little Walter died in 1968 after injuries sustained in a fight during a break at a club in Chicago:

…these relatively minor injuries sustained in this altercation aggravated and compounded damage he had suffered in previous violent encounters, and he died in his sleep at the apartment of a girlfriend at 209 E. 54th St. in Chicago early the following morning.[1][9] The official cause of death indicated on his death certificate was “coronary thrombosis” (a blood clot in the heart); evidence of external injuries was so insignificant that police reported that his death was of “unknown or natural causes”,[9] and there were no external injuries noted on the death certificate Full Biography

So this morning let’s have some morning music in honor of Little Walter’s birthday, how about his first hit “Juke”