Harmonica Almanac – April 29
Jazz harmonica legend Jean “Toots” Thielemans was born on this day in 1922. Toots began playing the harmonica at the age of seventeen after seeing Larry Adler play in a movie. He was heard playing at a jam session in New York City and was soon playing with Benny Goodman. He later played with George Shearing and over the course of his career he played with many Jazz greats as well as having a stellar solo career.
“Sleepy” Otis Hunt began playing the harmonica after his wife left him for Howlin’ Wolf. He got his first harmonica from Little Walter and got lessons from Eddie Taylor. He never got his wife back, but he became friends with Howlin’ Wolf. Hunt was born on this day in 1923.
Blues singer and guitarist Otis Rush was born on this day in 1934. Like a lot of great Blues musicians, Rush could also play the harmonica.
Blues guitar and harmonica player J.B. Lenoir traveled around during the 1940’s, working with Elmore James, Sonny Boy Williamson II and others before settling in Chicago around 1949. He recorded dozens of records on his own as well as playing with many of Chicago’s Blues giants. Lenoir died on this day in 1967.
Country singer-songwriter Kenny Roberts died on this day in 2012. Roberts learned how to play several instruments, including the harmonica, while he was just a child. After winning a talent contest when he was thirteen he embarked on a career that would last until he died.
That’s it for today. Have fun and practice!