Remembering Great Blues Harp Players

When thinking about blues music or blues musicians, it’s hard not to think about Little Walter or James Cotton. These two great blues harp players found their way into the hearts of many fans of the music and are studied by future musicians.

Little Walter, who was born Marion Walter Jacobs, was a singer, guitarist, and played the harmonica. He began in Louisiana and quit school at the ripe old age of 12. He worked odd jobs in Louisiana, Tennessee, Arkansas, and Missouri and ended up in Chicago in 1945. It was there he became a master of the blues harp by studying the likes of Sonny Boy Williamson, II, Sunnyland Slim and others. Little Walter is in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as the only artist inducted exclusively for being a harmonica player. Historians credit him as being responsible for creating the accepted vocabulary of the modern blues as well as the blues rock harp players.

James Cotton is another blues harmonica player as well as a songwriter and singer. Cotton was born in Mississippi and began playing the harmonica at 9 years of age. He was orphaned at 9 and was basically raised by Sonny Boy Williamson, II. By the age of 15, he was on his own and he also went to Chicago. He played with the Muddy Walters’ band for 12 years and then went out on his own. In 2006, Cotton was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in Memphis.

Simi Valley Cajun & Blues Music Festival is grateful to be able to keep blues legends like Little Walter and James Cotton in the spotlight. For more information about the festival contact us.