[Harp-L] Charlie McCoy's first recording session as a harmonica player

George Miklas harmonicat@xxxxx
Sat Jun 27 12:55:35 EDT 2020

To Arthur and other curious, I have read Charlie McCoy's autobiography, and
have cited it in my academic writing. He was rather disrespected by his
bass teacher because he was self-taught [1] and was advised to give up
rock-n-roll and country music. [2] Charlie himself states, "...I decided it
was time to take the leap and leave my college career behind" [3] but was
fearful to tell his father.  And there you have it, yes Charlie is a
phenomenal musician!, but his weekend gigging, country music, and the
harmonica were all disrespected by the Dean of music at the University of

I relate to Charlie's story, because like Charlie I faced financial
struggles in college plus I faced disrespect similar to Charlie from
pretentious classical musicians, and it because I was touring with Jerry
Murad's Harmonicats. After my first run with the Harmonicats, I went back
to music school and finished the degree. Many years later, I had the
opportunity to earn a graduate degree in harmonica, Master of Arts in Music
Education - Harmonica Performance, and now I am set to finish the terminal
degree next May, Doctorate of Music Education - Harmonica Performance.

[1] Charlie McCoy, *50 Cents and a Box Top, The creative life of Nashville
Session Musician Charlie McCoy*, (Morgantown: West Virginia University
Press, 2017), 28.
[2] Ibid., 30.
[3] Ibid., 33.

McCoy, Charlie. *50 Cents and a Box Top, The creative life of Nashville
Session Musician Charlie McCoy*. Morgantown: West Virginia University
Press, 2017.
*George Miklas <http://www.georgemiklas.com/>, M.A., M.Ed., B.M. in Ed.,*
*and **Candidate for DME (2021)*
*Harmonica and Tuba Performing Artist www.GeorgeMiklas.com
<http://www.georgemiklas.com/> *
*Harmonica Gallery www.HarmonicaGallery.com
<http://www.harmonicagallery.com/>  Click here for **Sales
<http://sales.harmonicagallery.com/> or **Repair

On Sat, Jun 27, 2020 at 7:40 AM Arthur Jennings via Harp-L <
harp-l at xxxxx> wrote:

> I think people are forgetting that Charlie is a university-trained
> musician and multi-instrumentalist.
> As to whether he conceived of Am on an F harp as “fifth position” or as
> simply “relative minor of the cross-harp key,” as guess you’d have to ask
> him. Either way, he knew what he was doing.
> > On Jun 26, 2020, at 10:53 AM, JOSEPH LEONE <3n037 at xxxxx> wrote:
> >
> > Fairly simple repetitious riff. And I'm not convinced that McCoy knew
> what positions were. Not at 20 at least. Hey, I could be dead wrong.
> > Many people have played harmonicas in off the wall positions and didn't
> know that they WERE positions. And probably couldn't tell you WHAT they
> were doing except that they 'found' a harp that worked.
> > I DO know that the few times I have seen/heard Charlie play chromatic,
> he used one tuned TO the tune he was playing. I recall that we were playing
> once and using Bb diatonics in the second position for F, and I even did a
> solo on chro martic.
> > He asked me if I was using an F chromo. and I showed him that I was
> using a C.
> > AND in the huge compendium of tunes that he had played on vinyl over the
> years, he always seemed to use second position.
> >
> > Charlie used to use 2 or more diatonics for some tunes. Example:
> 'Londonderry Aire (Oh Danny Boy). He used a D crossed for the head, then an
> A straight for the bridge, than back to a D. Then he would go up one sharp,
> use an Eb crossed for the head, a Bb straight, and back to an Eb crossed.
> Four harps.
> >
> > I only used two. But I had changed one reed. Something he discovered
> many years later.
> >
> > smo-joe
> >
> >> On 06/26/2020 6:51 AM Ken H in Ohio <airmojoken at xxxxx> wrote:
> >>
> >>
> >> That's a great song and excellent playing by Charlie McCoy.
> >> I wonder if Charlie knew he was playing in what we now call "5th
> position"
> >> back then ?
> >> Probably did, but I still wonder about it.
> >>
> >> Ken H in OH
> >>
> >>
> >>> On Thu, Jun 25, 2020 at 8:54 PM Peter Madcat Ruth <
> madcat at xxxxx>
> >>> wrote:
> >>>
> >>> Charlie McCoy's first recording session as a harmonica player was in
> 1961
> >>> when Charlie was 20 years old.
> >>>
> >>> The song was "I Just Don't Understand", by Ann-Margret.
> >>>
> >>> The song was in the key of Am and Charlie was playing an F harmonica  -
> >>> that’s fifth position!
> >>>
> >>> check it out:
> >>> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zDagZECOhJc
> >>>
> >>>
> >>> Peter Madcat Ruth
> >>>

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