Home » On Harmonica: Walter Horton aka Shakey Horton aka Big Walter Horton aka Mumbles Horton

On Harmonica: Walter Horton aka Shakey Horton aka Big Walter Horton aka Mumbles Horton

Walter Horton, who also was known as Big Walter Horton, Mumbles Horton and Walter “Shakey” Horton, was a Mississippi-born harmonica player who lived from 1918 to 1981. He is described as a quiet and shy man. Willie Dixon said that he was “the best harmonica player I ever heard.”

There were some very interesting but unsubstantiated claims made by Horton, according to Wikipedia: That his original recordings were done in Memphis in the 1920s with the Memphis Jug Band, that he taught harmonica to Little Walter and to the original Sonny Boy Williamson. I didn’t know that there was a second, earlier, Williamson. The profile says that researchers doubt that he played with the Memphis Jug Band.

The profile outlines his early days:

In the 1930s he played with various blues performers across the Mississippi delta region. It is generally accepted that his first recordings were made in Memphis backing guitarist Little Buddy Doyle on Doyle’s recordings for the Okeh and Vocalion labels in 1939.[1][3] These recordings were in the acoustic duo format popularized by Sleepy John Estes with his harmonicist Hammie Nixon, among others.

Horton played in Chicagoland in the 1960s and toured extensively. The profile says he usually was a backing musician. Indeed, the sense from the profiles is that he liked to be in the background. Horton was posthumously induced into the Blues Hall of Fame in 1982.

I am not sure of the name of the song above, but it’s great. The clip below has two songs “All Star Boogie” and “That Ain’t It.” Willie Dixon is on bass, Lafayette Leake is the pianist and Lee Jackson is the guitarist.

Wikipedia was used to write this post.

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