Harmonica player James Cotton
Harmonica player

James Cotton

July 1, 1935, Tunica, MS

The New York Daily News calls Cotton “the greatest living blues harmonica player.” The New York Times adds, “Cotton helped define modern blues harmonica with his moaning, wrenching phrases and his train-whistle wails.” Over the course of his storied career, Cotton has seemingly done it all. As a small boy he learned harmonica directly from Sonny Boy Wiliamson. He toured with Howlin’ Wolf, recorded for Sun Records, and spent twelve years with Muddy Waters before stepping out on his own. Leading his own band, he rose to the very top of the blues and rock scenes, touring the world non-stop and earning his reputation as one of the most powerful live blues performers in the world. ~ Alligator Records: James Cotton ~ retrieved June 5, 2013 © Alligator Records

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At his high-energy, 1970s peak as a bandleader, James Cotton was a bouncing, sweaty, whirling dervish of a bluesman, roaring his vocals and all but sucking the reeds right out of his defenseless little harmonicas with his prodigious lung power. Due to throat problems, Cotton's vocals are no longer what they used to be, but he remains a masterful instrumentalist. Cotton had some gargantuan shoes to fill when he stepped into Little Walter's slot as Muddy Waters' harp ace in 1954, but for the next dozen years, the young Mississippian filled the integral role beside Chicago's blues king with power and precision. Of course, Cotton had been preparing for such a career move for a long time, having learned how to wail on harp from none other than Sonny Boy Wiliamson himself. ~ Allmusic: James Cotton ~ retrieved June 5, 2013 © Allmusic

James Cotton ~ Inducted in the 2006 Blues Hall Of Fame.

As a Session musician, guest or band member

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