Junior Wells


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At a Glance

Birthname: Amos Wells Blakemore Jr.
Nationality: American
Born: Dec 09 1934


Biography

Amos Wells Blakemore Jr - a.k.a. Junior Wells - was born in Memphis, Tennessee on December 9, 1934. Known to Blues fans as the "Godfather of the Blues", he was a gifted musician, one of the primary Blues harmonica players in Chicago after World War II, as well as and an animated vocalist. Not only was he known for his performances and recordings with Muddy Waters and Buddy Guy, but he also performed and, or recorded with the likes of Earl Hooker, Bonnie Raitt, Eric Clapton, The Rolling Stones, and Van Morrison.

Influenced by Sonny Boy Williamson II and, especially, Walter Jacobs, a.k.a. ... Read more

Amos Wells Blakemore Jr - a.k.a. Junior Wells - was born in Memphis, Tennessee on December 9, 1934. Known to Blues fans as the "Godfather of the Blues", he was a gifted musician, one of the primary Blues harmonica players in Chicago after World War II, as well as and an animated vocalist. Not only was he known for his performances and recordings with Muddy Waters and Buddy Guy, but he also performed and, or recorded with the likes of Earl Hooker, Bonnie Raitt, Eric Clapton, The Rolling Stones, and Van Morrison.

Influenced by Sonny Boy Williamson II and, especially, Walter Jacobs, a.k.a. Little Walter, Wells helped to define the sound of the harmonica in the 1950s. Initially taught by his cousin, Junior Parker (also the writer of the classic "Mystery Train", later a major hit for Elvis Presley), by the age of seven young Amos played the harmonica with surprising skill. He moved to Chicago in 1948 with his mother after his parents divorced and began sitting in with local musicians at house parties and clubs. In 1950, still a teenager, he passed an impromptu audition for guitarists Louis and David Myers, and the Deuces were born. When drummer Fred Below came aboard, they changed their name to the Aces.

In the wake of scoring a huge hit with his solo effort "Juke" Little Walter quit the great Muddy Waters band in 1952. Without hesitation Wells quickly jumped ship and joined Muddy’s outfit. That didn't however stop the remaining Aces - who in turned joined forces with Little Walter - from backing Junior on his debut sessions for the States Records label, producing some seminal Chicago Blues cuts, including Junior’s original recording of "Hoodoo Man", a boisterous "Cut That Out", and the blazing instrumentals "Eagle Rock" and "Junior's Wail". More fireworks ensued the next year during a second session for States with a mournful "So All Alone". Muddy Waters himself contributed guitar on four tracks during this recording session. Already Wells was exhibiting his rebellious side; he was allegedly AWOL from the Army while in cutting these sides in the studio.

In 1957, Wells hooked up with Mel London, a producer who owned the Chief and Profile imprints. The collaboration quickly produced some of Wells' most enduring and influential records, including "I Could Cry" and the rock & rolling "Lovey Dovey Lovely One", followed in 1959 by the nationwide R&B hit "Little by Little", on which Willie Dixon provided vocal harmony, and which was later recorded by the Rolling Stones. In 1960 Wells recorded his R&B-classic "Messin' with the Kid". Featuring Earl Hooker's perfect guitar work, "Messin With The Kid’" would later become not only one of Junior Wells’ live favourites, but also the signature tune for the late Irish Blues guitarist, Rory Gallagher.

Sometime in 1958 Junior Wells had also entered into what would become a lengthy partnership with guitarist Buddy Guy, which came to fruition in the mid-60s. Like most other Blues musicians, Wells had suffered from the downturn of interest in Blues music in the early 1960s, but was ready, willing able and well-placed to take full advantage of the Blues revival which kicked in during the second half of the decade.

The turning point for Wells came with the release of his "Hoodoo Man Blues" long-player, recorded with Buddy Guy for the Delmark label in 1965. The somewhat psychedelic guitar effects on the title track reflected the mood of the times, and Wells and Guy quickly came to be featured on the Rock circuit as well as playing the more familiar Blues outlets. The long-player became a Grammy Hall of Fame record, a Blues Hall of Fame album, and one of the textbook examples of Chicago's classic West Side Blues style as well as establishing the names of Junior Wells and Buddy Guy well outside of the Chicago Blues scene.

Not only a virtuoso Blues-harp player, but also an animated vocalist, Wells' electrically charged stage act led to attempts to promote him as a kind of Blues version of James Brown, and while the Blues purists at times griped over his antics, younger Rock-oriented audiences responded enthusiastically to his entertaining, sexually-charged energy and showmanship. His partnership with Buddy Guy continued to produce recordings and live shows, solidifying the international success of both artists. Wells and Guy also supported the Rolling Stones on numerous occasions throughout the Seventies.

Recording wasn’t always that high a priority with the harmonica player, and his 1970s and 1980s output -mostly with Buddy Guy - were often live affairs, featuring guests like Dr John, Eric Clapton, and Bill Wyman. Blues-Rock guitarist, Eric Clapton, organized a recording session with Junior and Buddy for Atlantic Records in 1970. Serving as a sideman and a producer, Clapton brought Wells and Guy into Criteria studios in Miami, with a line-up including New Orleans keyboardist Dr. John. The record "Buddy Guy and Junior Wells Play the Blues" sat on Atlantic’s shelves for two years before finally being released in 1972. In 1974, Guy and Wells played the Montreux Jazz Festival backed by Rolling Stones' bassist Bill Wyman, Terry Taylor, Crosby, Stills & Nash drummer Dallas Taylor and Chicago Blues pianist Pinetop Perkins. The explosive performance was recorded for posterity and released as "Drinkin' TNT 'n' Smokin' Dynamite". Both Guy and Wells are in extraordinary form and this stellar recording remains one of the duo’s best selling records. Eventually though, Buddy Guy’s popularity grew to such an extent that Wells appeared to be seen as the secondary cohort, and the partnership finally ended in the late 1980s.

Some of his 1980s and 1990s discs were at times perhaps inconsistent. "Come On In This House" (1996) however contained an intriguing set of classic Blues songs featuring a rotating cast of ace slide guitarists, among which: Alvin Youngblood Hart, Corey Harris, Sonny Landreth and Derek Trucks. Thanks in part to this album Junior Wells will be remembered both as a spectacular performer and a distinguished practitioner of the Chicago urban style of Blues harmonica playing. The album won the W.C. Handy Blues Award for Best Traditional Blues Album in 1997.

On stage, with his customary swaggering figure and commanding presence he managed to draw immediate attention of everyone in the room with one menacing yelp or punctuating honk from his amplified harmonica. Indeed, Wells remained a potent live attraction until he was diagnosed with cancer in the summer of 1997. During the autumn of that same year he also suffered a heart attack while undergoing treatment, and lapsed into a coma. Succumbing to lymphoma, Junior Wells died in Chicago on January 15, 1998, and was buried in the Oak Woods Cemetery of the Windy City.

He posthumously appeared in the “Blues Brothers 2000” film, the sequel to the successful 1998 movie featuring John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd

Alfie Falckenbach

This biography was provided by the artist or their representative.

Amos Wells Blakemore Jr - a.k.a. Junior Wells - was born in Memphis, Tennessee on December 9, 1934. Known to Blues fans as the "Godfather of the Blues", he was a gifted musician, one of the primary Blues harmonica players in Chicago after World War II, as well as and an animated vocalist. Not only was he known for his performances and recordings with Muddy Waters and Buddy Guy, but he also performed and, or recorded with the likes of Earl Hooker, Bonnie Raitt, Eric Clapton, The Rolling Stones, and Van Morrison.

Influenced by Sonny Boy Williamson II and, especially, Walter Jacobs, a.k.a. Little Walter, Wells helped to define the sound of the harmonica in the 1950s. Initially taught by his cousin, Junior Parker (also the writer of the classic "Mystery Train", later a major hit for Elvis Presley), by the age of seven young Amos played the harmonica with surprising skill. He moved to Chicago in 1948 with his mother after his parents divorced and began sitting in with local musicians at house parties and clubs. In 1950, still a teenager, he passed an impromptu audition for guitarists Louis and David Myers, and the Deuces were born. When drummer Fred Below came aboard, they changed their name to the Aces.

In the wake of scoring a huge hit with his solo effort "Juke" Little Walter quit the great Muddy Waters band in 1952. Without hesitation Wells quickly jumped ship and joined Muddy’s outfit. That didn't however stop the remaining Aces - who in turned joined forces with Little Walter - from backing Junior on his debut sessions for the States Records label, producing some seminal Chicago Blues cuts, including Junior’s original recording of "Hoodoo Man", a boisterous "Cut That Out", and the blazing instrumentals "Eagle Rock" and "Junior's Wail". More fireworks ensued the next year during a second session for States with a mournful "So All Alone". Muddy Waters himself contributed guitar on four tracks during this recording session. Already Wells was exhibiting his rebellious side; he was allegedly AWOL from the Army while in cutting these sides in the studio.

In 1957, Wells hooked up with Mel London, a producer who owned the Chief and Profile imprints. The collaboration quickly produced some of Wells' most enduring and influential records, including "I Could Cry" and the rock & rolling "Lovey Dovey Lovely One", followed in 1959 by the nationwide R&B hit "Little by Little", on which Willie Dixon provided vocal harmony, and which was later recorded by the Rolling Stones. In 1960 Wells recorded his R&B-classic "Messin' with the Kid". Featuring Earl Hooker's perfect guitar work, "Messin With The Kid’" would later become not only one of Junior Wells’ live favourites, but also the signature tune for the late Irish Blues guitarist, Rory Gallagher.

Sometime in 1958 Junior Wells had also entered into what would become a lengthy partnership with guitarist Buddy Guy, which came to fruition in the mid-60s. Like most other Blues musicians, Wells had suffered from the downturn of interest in Blues music in the early 1960s, but was ready, willing able and well-placed to take full advantage of the Blues revival which kicked in during the second half of the decade.

The turning point for Wells came with the release of his "Hoodoo Man Blues" long-player, recorded with Buddy Guy for the Delmark label in 1965. The somewhat psychedelic guitar effects on the title track reflected the mood of the times, and Wells and Guy quickly came to be featured on the Rock circuit as well as playing the more familiar Blues outlets. The long-player became a Grammy Hall of Fame record, a Blues Hall of Fame album, and one of the textbook examples of Chicago's classic West Side Blues style as well as establishing the names of Junior Wells and Buddy Guy well outside of the Chicago Blues scene.

Not only a virtuoso Blues-harp player, but also an animated vocalist, Wells' electrically charged stage act led to attempts to promote him as a kind of Blues version of James Brown, and while the Blues purists at times griped over his antics, younger Rock-oriented audiences responded enthusiastically to his entertaining, sexually-charged energy and showmanship. His partnership with Buddy Guy continued to produce recordings and live shows, solidifying the international success of both artists. Wells and Guy also supported the Rolling Stones on numerous occasions throughout the Seventies.

Recording wasn’t always that high a priority with the harmonica player, and his 1970s and 1980s output -mostly with Buddy Guy - were often live affairs, featuring guests like Dr John, Eric Clapton, and Bill Wyman. Blues-Rock guitarist, Eric Clapton, organized a recording session with Junior and Buddy for Atlantic Records in 1970. Serving as a sideman and a producer, Clapton brought Wells and Guy into Criteria studios in Miami, with a line-up including New Orleans keyboardist Dr. John. The record "Buddy Guy and Junior Wells Play the Blues" sat on Atlantic’s shelves for two years before finally being released in 1972. In 1974, Guy and Wells played the Montreux Jazz Festival backed by Rolling Stones' bassist Bill Wyman, Terry Taylor, Crosby, Stills & Nash drummer Dallas Taylor and Chicago Blues pianist Pinetop Perkins. The explosive performance was recorded for posterity and released as "Drinkin' TNT 'n' Smokin' Dynamite". Both Guy and Wells are in extraordinary form and this stellar recording remains one of the duo’s best selling records. Eventually though, Buddy Guy’s popularity grew to such an extent that Wells appeared to be seen as the secondary cohort, and the partnership finally ended in the late 1980s.

Some of his 1980s and 1990s discs were at times perhaps inconsistent. "Come On In This House" (1996) however contained an intriguing set of classic Blues songs featuring a rotating cast of ace slide guitarists, among which: Alvin Youngblood Hart, Corey Harris, Sonny Landreth and Derek Trucks. Thanks in part to this album Junior Wells will be remembered both as a spectacular performer and a distinguished practitioner of the Chicago urban style of Blues harmonica playing. The album won the W.C. Handy Blues Award for Best Traditional Blues Album in 1997.

On stage, with his customary swaggering figure and commanding presence he managed to draw immediate attention of everyone in the room with one menacing yelp or punctuating honk from his amplified harmonica. Indeed, Wells remained a potent live attraction until he was diagnosed with cancer in the summer of 1997. During the autumn of that same year he also suffered a heart attack while undergoing treatment, and lapsed into a coma. Succumbing to lymphoma, Junior Wells died in Chicago on January 15, 1998, and was buried in the Oak Woods Cemetery of the Windy City.

He posthumously appeared in the “Blues Brothers 2000” film, the sequel to the successful 1998 movie featuring John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd

Alfie Falckenbach

This biography was provided by the artist or their representative.

Amos Wells Blakemore Jr - a.k.a. Junior Wells - was born in Memphis, Tennessee on December 9, 1934. Known to Blues fans as the "Godfather of the Blues", he was a gifted musician, one of the primary Blues harmonica players in Chicago after World War II, as well as and an animated vocalist. Not only was he known for his performances and recordings with Muddy Waters and Buddy Guy, but he also performed and, or recorded with the likes of Earl Hooker, Bonnie Raitt, Eric Clapton, The Rolling Stones, and Van Morrison.

Influenced by Sonny Boy Williamson II and, especially, Walter Jacobs, a.k.a. Little Walter, Wells helped to define the sound of the harmonica in the 1950s. Initially taught by his cousin, Junior Parker (also the writer of the classic "Mystery Train", later a major hit for Elvis Presley), by the age of seven young Amos played the harmonica with surprising skill. He moved to Chicago in 1948 with his mother after his parents divorced and began sitting in with local musicians at house parties and clubs. In 1950, still a teenager, he passed an impromptu audition for guitarists Louis and David Myers, and the Deuces were born. When drummer Fred Below came aboard, they changed their name to the Aces.

In the wake of scoring a huge hit with his solo effort "Juke" Little Walter quit the great Muddy Waters band in 1952. Without hesitation Wells quickly jumped ship and joined Muddy’s outfit. That didn't however stop the remaining Aces - who in turned joined forces with Little Walter - from backing Junior on his debut sessions for the States Records label, producing some seminal Chicago Blues cuts, including Junior’s original recording of "Hoodoo Man", a boisterous "Cut That Out", and the blazing instrumentals "Eagle Rock" and "Junior's Wail". More fireworks ensued the next year during a second session for States with a mournful "So All Alone". Muddy Waters himself contributed guitar on four tracks during this recording session. Already Wells was exhibiting his rebellious side; he was allegedly AWOL from the Army while in cutting these sides in the studio.

In 1957, Wells hooked up with Mel London, a producer who owned the Chief and Profile imprints. The collaboration quickly produced some of Wells' most enduring and influential records, including "I Could Cry" and the rock & rolling "Lovey Dovey Lovely One", followed in 1959 by the nationwide R&B hit "Little by Little", on which Willie Dixon provided vocal harmony, and which was later recorded by the Rolling Stones. In 1960 Wells recorded his R&B-classic "Messin' with the Kid". Featuring Earl Hooker's perfect guitar work, "Messin With The Kid’" would later become not only one of Junior Wells’ live favourites, but also the signature tune for the late Irish Blues guitarist, Rory Gallagher.

Sometime in 1958 Junior Wells had also entered into what would become a lengthy partnership with guitarist Buddy Guy, which came to fruition in the mid-60s. Like most other Blues musicians, Wells had suffered from the downturn of interest in Blues music in the early 1960s, but was ready, willing able and well-placed to take full advantage of the Blues revival which kicked in during the second half of the decade.

The turning point for Wells came with the release of his "Hoodoo Man Blues" long-player, recorded with Buddy Guy for the Delmark label in 1965. The somewhat psychedelic guitar effects on the title track reflected the mood of the times, and Wells and Guy quickly came to be featured on the Rock circuit as well as playing the more familiar Blues outlets. The long-player became a Grammy Hall of Fame record, a Blues Hall of Fame album, and one of the textbook examples of Chicago's classic West Side Blues style as well as establishing the names of Junior Wells and Buddy Guy well outside of the Chicago Blues scene.

Not only a virtuoso Blues-harp player, but also an animated vocalist, Wells' electrically charged stage act led to attempts to promote him as a kind of Blues version of James Brown, and while the Blues purists at times griped over his antics, younger Rock-oriented audiences responded enthusiastically to his entertaining, sexually-charged energy and showmanship. His partnership with Buddy Guy continued to produce recordings and live shows, solidifying the international success of both artists. Wells and Guy also supported the Rolling Stones on numerous occasions throughout the Seventies.

Recording wasn’t always that high a priority with the harmonica player, and his 1970s and 1980s output -mostly with Buddy Guy - were often live affairs, featuring guests like Dr John, Eric Clapton, and Bill Wyman. Blues-Rock guitarist, Eric Clapton, organized a recording session with Junior and Buddy for Atlantic Records in 1970. Serving as a sideman and a producer, Clapton brought Wells and Guy into Criteria studios in Miami, with a line-up including New Orleans keyboardist Dr. John. The record "Buddy Guy and Junior Wells Play the Blues" sat on Atlantic’s shelves for two years before finally being released in 1972. In 1974, Guy and Wells played the Montreux Jazz Festival backed by Rolling Stones' bassist Bill Wyman, Terry Taylor, Crosby, Stills & Nash drummer Dallas Taylor and Chicago Blues pianist Pinetop Perkins. The explosive performance was recorded for posterity and released as "Drinkin' TNT 'n' Smokin' Dynamite". Both Guy and Wells are in extraordinary form and this stellar recording remains one of the duo’s best selling records. Eventually though, Buddy Guy’s popularity grew to such an extent that Wells appeared to be seen as the secondary cohort, and the partnership finally ended in the late 1980s.

Some of his 1980s and 1990s discs were at times perhaps inconsistent. "Come On In This House" (1996) however contained an intriguing set of classic Blues songs featuring a rotating cast of ace slide guitarists, among which: Alvin Youngblood Hart, Corey Harris, Sonny Landreth and Derek Trucks. Thanks in part to this album Junior Wells will be remembered both as a spectacular performer and a distinguished practitioner of the Chicago urban style of Blues harmonica playing. The album won the W.C. Handy Blues Award for Best Traditional Blues Album in 1997.

On stage, with his customary swaggering figure and commanding presence he managed to draw immediate attention of everyone in the room with one menacing yelp or punctuating honk from his amplified harmonica. Indeed, Wells remained a potent live attraction until he was diagnosed with cancer in the summer of 1997. During the autumn of that same year he also suffered a heart attack while undergoing treatment, and lapsed into a coma. Succumbing to lymphoma, Junior Wells died in Chicago on January 15, 1998, and was buried in the Oak Woods Cemetery of the Windy City.

He posthumously appeared in the “Blues Brothers 2000” film, the sequel to the successful 1998 movie featuring John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd

Alfie Falckenbach

This biography was provided by the artist or their representative.

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