Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Greats Of The Blues: Walter Horton

Harmonica player Walter Horton, better known as Big Walter, was born in Mississippi on April 6, 1917. He spent much of the 1930's and 1940's travelling and playing through the South, and his earliest known recording was in 1939. He arrived on the Chicago Blues scene in the early 1950's where he backed Muddy Waters and other Mississippi Delta Blues performers who had traveled north for a better life in the big city. In the 1960's, the white youth of America "discovered" this harmonica virtuoso, and in the 1970's, he toured the world and frequented the festival circuit. He died in 1981 of heart failure.

There is more that is not known about Big Walter than is known. He was said to be a quiet and shy man, who was also nicknamed "Mumbles" and "Shakey". Big Walter boasted that he taught Little Walter and the original Sonny Boy Williamson to play harmonica. Most Blues historians doubt this contention. What isn't contested is this: Big Walter was one of the most influential harmonica players in the history of the Blues. His tone or big sound is instantly recognizable. Nobody played the harmonica like Big Walter.

To read more about the life of Big Walter Horton, check out this link at Wikipedia.

No comments: