Well, when you need some grooving blues music, one of the best around is Junior Wells for sure. Junior was a king of the harp and everybody should have a copy of his Hoodoo Man Blues album. His music is still today an inspiration for many musicians and also DJ’s know how to adapt his work for a remix. Junior Wells hit “Messin’ with the Kid” for example was beautifully remix by DJ _AZK_.
Tom Azk a.k.a. dj _AZK_ remix “Messing With The Kid” fantastically. The song is groovy as hell, the funk in fueled intro is a killer and overall you’ll find some danceable beats in this remix.
AZK has been on the musical scene of the north of Spain since the 90’s. He started as a singer and guitar player in local rock bands until he fell in love with the blues and the harmonica, which is now always present in his productions and live shows.
When Tommy Tucker recorded “Hi-Heel Sneakers for Checker Records back in 1963 I guess he could never expect the influence of this song. It was covered by many musicians including Tom Jones, Junior Wells, John Lee Hooker and Jerry Lee Lewis.
After retirement from the music industry in the late sixties Tommy Tucker woked as a real-estate agent and wrote for a local newspaper.
The wide world of Blues, Early Rock ‘n Roll and allother Black Music is so big and every day you discover more and more great music. That’s what keeps you dedicated to find the finest songs around. I created a Rhythm and Blues radio Session on the Black Bull Blues Mixcloud account including 13 songs that I’m happily like to share with y’all. This radio session contains some of my favorite artist including Junior Wells, Lowell Fulson, Gary U.S. Bonds and Ann Cole.
“Quarter to Three” to “The Letter”
Gary U.S. Bonds is a fantastic artist who recorded great songs like Dear Lady Twist and Quarter to Three. That song became a number-one hit on the Billboard Hot 100 in the United States on June 26, 1961, and remained there for two weeks. In 1968 another great bluesman Lowell Fulson entered the charts with the Rhythm and Blues hit “The Letter”, which he released for Kent Records.
Beautiful Lady Bluessingers
Ann Cole was the original performer of “Got My Mojo Working”in 1956. The Classic blues song wat written by Actor Preston S. Foster. I Really like how Ann Cole makes this song Swing. Another Great Lady Bluessinger is Esther Phillips. Her song So Good really makes averyone happy. In this song we can all see that ladies know how to make a song swing!
Other songs in this session are classics like Evaleena by Billy Boy Arnold, Clarence Gatemouth Brown, Ike Gordon and Bo Diddley, I Hope you all enjoy! Photo Buddy Guy by By Bubba73 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Billy ‘The Kid’ Emerson a career of Blues, Rock ‘n Roll and Rhythm ‘nd Blues
Billy ‘The Kid’ Emerson has done it all. The piano player and singer recorded infectious music in a wide range from Rhythm and Blues to Rock ‘n Roll to Rockabilly, Blues and Gospel. You may know him for his 1955 hit record “Red Hot”, which was later covered by Elvis Presley and Billy Lee Riley. But Billy ‘The Kid’ has recorded way more songs in his long career, which led to collaborations with the greatest musicians in Blues and Rock ‘n Roll.
Born in Tarpon Springs, Florida Billy ‘The Kid’ Emerson learned the piano at a young age. He joined several local bands before he entered the United States Navy. After World War II Billy Emerson continued performing in the Florida area, where he picked up his nickname “The Kid”. According to Sun Records “He picked up his nickname while playing a joint in St. Petersburg; the club owner dressed the band up in cowboy duds that begged comparison with a certain murderous outlaw.
Billy ‘The Kid’ Emerson’ Sun records Days
After Billy Emerson met Ike Turner, while he was stationed in Memphis he became part of Turner’s Rhythm Kings. Turner introduced Emerson to the Sun Record label which led, in 1954 to ‘Billy the Kid’s first single called “No Teasing Around”. Billy Emerson became an important writer for Sun record. his repertoire consisted of a variety of Blues and Rhythm ‘n Blues songs like ‘When it Rains it Really Pours’. He became a popular musician in the Rock ‘n Roll and Rockabilly scene which inspired Elvis Presley, Billy Lee Riley for Sun and Bob Luma to re-record Emerson’s greatest hits.
Billy ‘The Kid’ Emerson for Vee-jay Records
Billy Emerson’ last recording for Sun “Little Fine Healthy Thing” failed to sell, Emerson exited Sun to sign with Chicago’s Vee-Jay Records in late 1955. Sun Records recalls: “Despite first-rate offerings such as the jumping “Every Woman I Know (Crazy ‘Bout Automobiles)” and a sophisticated “Don’t Start Me to Lying,” national recognition eluded Emerson at Vee-Jay too”.
At Vee-Jay Record Billy Emerson’s style became more Blues, more Rhythm ‘n Blues, nevertheless his song would stay as catchy as in the Sun period. For example the hit ‘Crazy ‘Bout Automobiles’, consist steady drums a groovy horn ensemble and a twisting saxophone solo. Above all there is room for the swinging vocals of Billy ‘the Kid’ Emerson.
Chess Records period
After a few years at Vee-Jay the recordings continued at Chess Records in 1958. Along his first few singles was “Woodchuck”. Emerson recorded this song earlier at Sun Records. The Chicago version, is much bluesy more singing, less talking. Another song from the Chess period is ‘Holy Mackerel Baby’, in this song Emerson tried a style of singing I haven’t heard before. Clean, no shouting, no gritty of raw-edge.
Woodchuck at Chess Woodchuck at SunHoly Mackerel Baby’
Own Label Tarpon and collaborations with the biggest bluesman
After recording for some of the largest labels in Blues and Rock ‘n Roll around the USA, Emerson decided to start his own label called Tarpon in 1966. In addition to Emerson’s own stuff, Tarpon issued Denise LaSalle’s debut single. He continued performing with the Biggest Bluesman like Willie Dixon, Junior Wells, Buddy Guy, Earl Hooker and Sonny Boy Williamson II. Billy ‘The Kid’ had an impressive career which led him to musical styles in the broad land of Roots Music.
Photo Credit feature picture: By Lioneldecoster (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons
When the great Junior Wells from Memphis Tennessee started playing harmonica he almost went to jail for stealing a Marine Band harp. Wells wanted the harmonica he saw in a pawnshop on Harrison Street, Chicago costing 2 dollars. Junior only had one-fifty. He smashed the one-fifty down, took the Marine Band and ran out. Junior got caught by the police and went to court. The judge was impressed by Wells story and decided to pay the fifty cents. Who was this judge? I don’t know, but the guy was great.
Junior always looked relax on stage, his performances were energetic, his voice soulful and his screams James Brown-like he had charisma. He could sing Blues Ballads, Rock songs and Funk Tracks at the same time. He made a party explode and with his solid band he just had to make a crowd swing. And that was Junior Wells his trademark.
Harmonica with Sonny Boy Williamson
As a kid he learned to play harmonica from the best. At age ten Sonny Boy ‘John Lee’ Williamson took care of him. John Lee was doing a thing with Big Maceo and Tampa Red at that time when they heard Junior play. They liked Junior’s style and asked him to play along. It was Sonny Boy who told Wells to buy a Marine band harmonica.
Junior Wells in the Chicago Blues scene
Junior Wells was a young dog in the Chicago music scene. The world of blues musicians is small. Everybody met everybody, and they all played together. It must have been a friendly but competitive world because they all switched and changed bands, musicians jammed together and record together it was all in the game; play to pay the rent. Junior Wells was no exception. Like many others in the Chicago blues scene Wells met Little Walter and Muddy Waters. He was twelve and saw Muddy and Walter perform at the Union hall of Chicago. After a while Wells took the stage. Walter looked down on Junior and said “He gonna blow a Harmonica”, “A pip-squeak?“ Wells made eighty dollars in tips that night. The twelve year old youngster made quite made his mark that night. (Harmonicas, Harps and Heavy Breathers p. 179/184 by Kim Field)
As a youngster Wells played with many musicians in tavern bars around Chicago. He was part of Tampa Red’s, Memphis Slim’s band. The main persona of this blog went to a lot of houseparties on the southside. At one of those parties he met Dave and Louis Myers. Junior and the Myers started playing together in the Hollywood Rendezvous seven nights a week calling themselves the Aces. Two songs from the aces I like are: Junior’s Whoop and Man Downstairs.
When Little Walter made some big hits in the fifties, Wells got offered a job at Muddy band for a tour through the south. Junior went to Muddy, The Myers brothers went to Little Walter. Wells played Harmonica on the hit song ‘Mannish Boy’. The Myers became the steady jazzy backbeat of Little Walters live band.
Junior Wells Hoodoo Blues
My personal hightlight of Junior Wells recording career was Hoodoo Blues with Buddy Guy. Songs like We’re Ready. Good Morning Schoolgirl and Chitlin’ Con Carne are songs everybody should listen to. He has a great Harmonica sound on these tracks and above all a great rhythmic backing band. The album inspired many blues revival musicians like Eric Clapton and Paul Butterfield.
Chitlin’ Con Carne
Greatest songs Junior Wells
Junior Wells never made the fame other artist like Little Walter, Howlin’Wolf, Muddy Waters and James Brown had on the national Charts. He recorded a whole lot of great records, some with Buddy Guy, and other with Earl Hooker. Together with Hooker he recorded some rock ‘n boogie songs. I really like Lazy Mule, a combination of rock ‘n roll and the later on traditional Blues. Also Come on in this House is a must listen.
He was a true performed, even at an older age he knew how to make good music. If he was better produced an more managed he could have been the greatest blues singer of all time. In 1996 he released the acoustic album Come in My House. At older he age gave a great interview to Lincoln Beauchamp BluesSpeak: The Best of the Original Chicago Blues Annual
Read it here. For now: Let’s listen to this great and remember the fantastic Junior Wells.
Tracy Chapman with Junior Wells- Give Me One Reason