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Little Walter biography



Little Walter It would be safe to say that the Rolling Stones learned a lot from Muddy Waters. One could be tempted to take that statement one step further and say that Mick Jagger learned a lot from Muddy Waters harp player Little Walter. As to who was the greater influence, that ís an argument for some other time. What is presented here is a short bio of a very important Blues original. Little Walter is considered by many the king of blues harmonica and was probably the first to amplify the instrument. He was the first musician of any kind to purposely use electronic distortion (later Jimi Hendrix would use distortion to change rock'n'roll forever). Little Walter could make his harp sound like a tenor sax. He defined the sound known as Chicago blues harp. As a singer, composer and harmonica genius, Little Walter was arguably the best blues artist produced by the post war Chicago blues movement. Walter arrived in Chicago from rural Louisiana at the end of WWII, and recorded his first record in 1947 at the age of 17. From the very start Walter paid homage to no tradition other than his own. You night say he did things his way. If there had been influences on the development of his talent, his talent surpassed them by the time he started to record. Right from the beginning Muddy Waters encouraged Walter to develop his talent and he soon became an integral part of Muddy's band. Walterís harp playing is distinctive and instinctive, a perfect compliment to Muddyís powerful vocals and strong beats. In 1952 Walter left Muddy's band to record on his own. He was backed by guitarists David and Louis Myers and drummer Fred. His first records were for the Checker records. "Juke" was a Number one hit and established Walter and marked him as a performer to be watched. The record launched a string of hits that would last fifteen years starting with the instrumental "Juke" and continuing with songs like "Last Night," "Blues With a Feeling," "Mean Old World," and "Quarter to Twelve." Between 1952 and 1968, Walter recorded approximately 100 titles for Chess, of which slightly more than half were issued on record. From his very first to his very last record, Little Walter was unique. His place in history is assured for his being one of the first musicians to try electrically amplified blues. No had thought to hold a microphone up to a harp before but it was a lesson no one would ever forget. Little Walter died in 1968 after sustaining head injuries in a street fight.