Junior Wells - Mystery Train - Classic Blues Videos
with Buddy & Phil Guy in Chicago, 1974
Blues harmonica master Junior Wells performs "Mystery Train" at WTTW Studios in Chicago in 1974. With Buddy and Phil Guy on guitars and A.C. Reed on tenor saxophone.
Amos Wells Blackmore, Jr. was born on December 9, 1934 and started
blowing harp at the young age of seven. As the story goes, Junior saw a
harmonica selling for $2 at a store. Wells only had $1.50 so he put
the money on the counter, grabbed the harmonica and ran. Police caught
up with him not too far away but when the judge heard him play they say
the judge handed the store owner 50-cents and sent Junior on his way.
Wells first learned harmonica from his cousin, Blues legend Junior
Parker and also was influenced heavily by Sonny Boy Williamson. Junior
moved to Chicago in 1948, when he was twelve, and immediately began
sitting in with local legends including Dave and Louis Myers. The Myers
brothers loved Wells so much they started a band together called the
Deuces and when drummer Fred Belows joined they became The Aces.
Little Walter left the Muddy Waters band in 1952 and Junior jumped at the chance to take his place and recorded for the first time that year with Muddy. The following year Wells recorded under his own name for the first time and one of the tunes included was one of staples through out his career, "Hoodoo Man". He recorded much more in the 1950s including an album with Muddy Waters backing on States Records and hooked up with producer Mel London in 1957 who owned Chief and Profile Records after a brief stint in the Army. While working with London, Junior recorded "Little by Little" with Willie Dixon which hit #23 on the Billboard R&B charts and recorded another one of his staple tunes, "Messin With The Kid" in 1960.
Wells hooked up with Buddy Guy in 1965 and a whole lot of Blues magic followed. They recorded their first album together entitled "Hoodoo Man Blues" that year. Junior and Buddy followed with the album "It's My Life, Baby" the next year, "You're Tuff Enough" in 1968 and "Southside Blues Jam" in 1969 while creating a huge following from both Blues and Rock fans and were even opening for the Rolling Stones in 1970s. Junior continued to perform and dazzle with his smooth moves and incredible harp playing till the end and proved his longevity with the 1996 album "Come On In This House" which won the W.C. Handy Blues Award for Traditional Blues Album in 1997 and featured slide guitar greats including Alvin Youngblood Hart, Corey Harris, Sonny Landreth and Derek Trucks. Wells was diagnosed with cancer in 1997 but still managed to make an appearance in the film Blues Brothers 2000. Junior Wells passed away in 1998 at the age of sixty three,
Junior Wells leaves an amazing legacy as a master of Blues harmonica and definitely one of the greatest live performers the Blues has given us as you see in the videos above. Whether it be his incredible voice, harp playing or his smooth moves on stage, Junior gave every bit he had to the audience and loved connecting to people in that way. In the words of harp player Sugar Blue, "He had such a power in him, such emotive presence, that even listening to him on a record you could almost see him." Whether it be young harp players trying to learn or fans of the Blues wanting to listen to some of the best of what the Blues has to offer, the music of Junior Wells will be enjoyed for a long time.