Pryor in Edinburgh, June 1993 Photograph: Phil Wight

Snooky Pryor from Mississippi to Chicago

Snooky Pryor from Mississippi to Chicago

Snooky Pryor was born in Lambert Mississippi 1921 and became a legend when he moved to Chicago, a great singer and harmonica player.

He started playing the harp at age of fourteen alongside childhood friend Jimmy Rogers. He listened to local musicians, the Radioshow King Biscuit Time broadcasted from Helena Arkansas. John Lee “Sonny Boy” Williamson learned Snooky how to play the Harmonica when he moved to Chicago.

Playing with Sonny Boy Williamson

Pryor in Edinburgh, June 1993 Photograph: Phil Wight
Pryor in Edinburgh, June 1993 Photograph: Phil Wight

He came to Chicago to work in a factory, in his free time he spent some time at the clubs on the Chicago Southside and there he met Williamson, Floyd Jones, Moody Jones and Eddie Taylor. Williamson would become his mentor, Floyd, Moody and Eddie his bandmates.

Snooky performed together with Sonny Boy at the Purple Cat lounge 2119, in The Little Walter Story p.33, he recalls playing at the bandstand. The bartender let Snooky play and he made his mark. Her recalls “I could play better than he could. People started to give me more calls than Sonny Boy”. Sonny Boy snatched him down off his bandstand telling Snooky: “Goddamn, Junior, you ain’t getting up there.”

Electrified Chicago Telephone Blues

With Floyd, Moody and Eddie, Snooky Pryor recorded one of the first electrified blues albums called Telephone Blues. A song with a sharp, slicing harmonica tune. Snooky Pryor was an excellent harmonica player, he and his Hohner Marine Band Harmonica influenced many musicians like Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen and Neill Young. But Snooky Started playing this harp back in 1949.

Snooky ‘s refreshing Blues

They recorded at the J.O.B label founded by Joe Brown, alongside musicians as Sunnyland Slim, J.B. Lenoir and Eddie Boyd. I really like Snooy’s recordings with Homesick James. They make refreshing Chicago blues. Great harmonica, steady drums and a fantastic voice. That is what I like about this guy.


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