Friday, February 20, 2009
Junior Wells (1932 – 1998)
Junior Wells (December 9, 1932 – January 15, 1998), born Amos Blakemore, was a blues vocalist and harmonica player based in Chicago who was famous for playing with Muddy Waters, Buddy Guy, Bonnie Raitt, The Rolling Stones and Van Morrison among others. He was born in Memphis, Tennessee, and raised in Arkansas. Initially influenced by fellow Memphian Junior Parker, and both Sonny Boy Williamsons, Wells moved to Chicago in 1948 and began sitting in with local musicians at house parties and taverns. He began performing with The Aces (guitarist brothers Dave and Louis Myers and drummer Fred Below) and developed a more modern amplified harmonica style influenced by Little Walter. He made his first recordings at age 18, when he briefly replaced Little Walter in Muddy Waters' band and appeared on one of Muddy's sessions in 1952. His first recordings as a band leader were made in the following year for States Records; in the later '50s and early '60s he also recorded singles for other local Chicago labels. He worked with Buddy Guy in the 1960s and recorded his first album for Delmark Records. His most memorable songs are "Messin' With The Kid" and "Little by Little," which were written and composed by Chicago blues producer Mel London. His best-known album is 1965's Hoodoo Man Blues on Delmark Records, which featured Buddy Guy on guitar and evokes the smoky atmosphere of the era's Westside Chicago blues bars.