Re: Hendrix of the Harmonica

>At  1:07 PM 1/20/95 -0600, Christian N Michalek wrote:
>>Johnny Mars, John Pooper, Madcat, Sugar Blue as well as others have been
>>at one time or another labeled "the Jimi Hendrix of the harmonica"
>>What is up with this?  If any,  who do you think is the Jimi of the
>>harmonica and why?....

>The sound Jimi Hendrix created employing pyrotechnics, electronic effects
>and high speed playing was revolutionary. But this was only part of the
>Jimi Hendrix experience. He also took the electric guitar playing to a
>completely new level which would influence generations of guitar
>players(that definition alone would eliminate all of the above harp players
>IMO). Only one harp player majorly influenced his own as well all
>subsequent generations: Little Walter.



I'd agree with Rick that none of the contemporary players 
mentioned is "the Jimi Hendrix of the harmonica." 

(For that matter, I'm not sure I understand why there even has to 
be a "Jimi Hendrix of the harmonica" -- but that's another 
discussion. :)

However, with all due respect (to both Rick and Little Walter :), 
if I were to try coming up with one, I don't think it'd be Little 
Walter.  I think Little Walter is perhaps the "B.B. King" of 
harmonica players, but not the "Jimi Hendrix."

Hendrix didn't just influence future generations of guitar 
players; he influenced future generations of ~audiences~.  Sure, 
there was revolutionary style in his playing, but the bad-ass, 
pyrotechnic packaging was the vehicle that got it over, and he 
knew it.  (I think it's also probably the reason one might even 
ask today about who is the "Hendrix" of harp, rather than, say, 
the "Clapton" of harp -- they were both "gods," but Jimi was 

Bad-ass Little Walter clearly set the stage for the modern blues 
harp revolution, but he didn't get the message out to a mass, 
mainstream audience in his own time.  He worked mainly in the 
studio and small clubs, and his direct influence remained almost 
exclusively within the blues world.  

As with B.B. (or even Muddy, for that matter), it took others who 
were greatly influenced by him to take his music forward to much 
wider acceptance. Fortunately for both B.B. and Muddy, they lived 
long enough to see this happen (through young interpreters like 
Bloomfield, and Hendrix himself), unlike Little Walter.

The analogy may be both imperfect and shaded in lots of ways, but 
if I had to designate the "Hendrix" of harmonica players, I'd 
seriously have to say it was probably Paul Butterfield.  

Musically, many more people first got turned on to tunes like 
"Blues With A Feeling," "Off The Wall, " and "Mellow Down Easy" 
through Butterfield's respectful and ballsy homage than from 
Walter himself.

And theatrically, what he and his band did at the Newport Folk 
Festival in 1964 -- with both their music ~and~ attitudes -- was 
~exactly~ what Hendrix and his band did at the Monterey Pop 
Festival in 1967 (where Butterfield also played).  

Both of them didn't just play their asses off, but from those 
pivotal moments on, permanently set the direction for their 
respective "blues/rock" harp and guitar genres -- for the media, 
for the audiences, and, as a result, for a generation of other 

MHO, B<pass.the.lighter.fluid>*)

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