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Little Walter (1930-1968)

Little Walter Monument
Little Walter Monument in
Darmstadt, Germany, created by
sculptor and drummer Detlef Kraft.

Photo by Heinrich Theobald

Blues With a Feeling

Marion Walter Jacobs was born on May 1, 1930 in Marksville, Louisiana. Little Walter taught himself harmonica at age 8. Little Walter left his home at age 12 and went to New Orleans, later to Helena, Arkansas (where he met Sonny Boy Williamson II), Memphis, Tennessee and St. Louis, Missouri. In 1946, Little Walter came to Chicago, Illinois and began to work in local clubs, since 1948 as a member of Muddy Waters' band. In 1947, Little Walter made his first recording I Just Keep Loving Her for the Ora-Nelle label. Because of the crowded and noisy clubs in Chicago and the loud electric guitars Little Walter amplified his harmonica. Little Walter used to hold a small microphone in his hand while he was playing harmonica, and plugged the microphone into an amplifier. This produced a powerful saxophone like sound. Since then amplified harmonica playing became very common, not only in blues. The loudly wailing amplified harmonica became a particular characteristic in modern Chicago blues. In 1952, Little Walter formed his own band The Jukes with David and Louis Myers on guitars and Fred Below on drums and recorded for the Checker label Juke, his first hit record. Many hits followed, My Babe, Sad Hours, Off the Wall, Blues With a Feeling, You Better Watch Yourself, Mean Old World, and Last Night to name a few. In 1964, Little Walter toured England with the Rolling Stones. Little Walter died on February 15, 1968 in Chicago at the age of 37 as a result of head injuries sustained in a street fight. Little Walter is regarded as one of the most important blues artists. He virtuously played both blues harp and chromatic harmonica and set standards in harmonica playing. Little Walter's instrumental Juke is one of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll, selected by the curatorial staff and a number of rock critics and historians.

Visit also these related Sites:

Little Walter Tribute Pages

Biographical Information on Little Walter

Various Articles on Little Walter

Little Walter Lyrics

Little Walter Lessons

Little Walter Photos

Little Walter Audio Files

Little Walter Videos

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