June 19, 1930 – March 28, 2012
Recording history: early 1950′s on Trumpet, 1950′s through the mid 1960′s for Continental/Rex/Excello/Okeh, mid-1960′s through early 1970′s on Jewel, in the 1980′s for Bad/Heart, 1980′s into 1990′s on Ichiban, more recently with Music Maker/Boogie Down & Jericho.
Also recorded with: N/A
Important/historic recordings: “Steady”, “Geronimo Rock & Roll”, “She’s Tuff”, “Honky Tonk Parts 1 & 2″, “Midnight Beat”
Random fact: Although it seems that Jerry has been plagued by bad deals one after another in the music business (for decade after decade), and hasn’t gotten as much recognition as many of his contemporaries, he is the originator & composer of two harmonca-based songs that are known and copied the world over - “She’s Tough” and “Steady”.
About: Born Jerry McCain in Alabama, and one of five children. First exposed to and interested in live music hanks for local Alabama street entertainers “Chick & Shorty”. Some early experience on radio and local juke joints followed, and there was a heavy influence of Sonny Boy Williamson #2 (Rice Miller) – and not long after, Little Walter – in his harmonica playing. The story goes that he had written some songs after seeing Little Walter perform locally in the early 1950′s. At least one of these songs (“Wine-o-Wine”) was recorded at his first session for the Trumpet label in 1953.
Jerry had his share of local-& regional-selling records such as “Courtin’ In a Cadillac”, “Steady”, “She’s Tough” and “Red Top”, and recorded on many labels, some obscure, some bigger (such as Okeh, which is a subsidiary of Columbia). Jerry obviously had his blues influences such as Sonny Boy Williamson and Little Walter, but really developed more of his own style. A more raucous, rocking style in some cases, and an original style and attack in almost all cases. Jerry has continued to record in recent years with his own take on topical issues and songwriting, with songs such as “Ain’t No Use For Drug Abuse” and “Sexual Harassment”, and his harmonica playing & musical vision still remained original through to his recent departing.
Recommended Recordings in-print:
- “Rockin’ Harmonica Blues Men”- Wolf (cool early tracks, also includes some Kid Thomas)
- “Strange Kind Of Feeling” - Alligator (some more early cuts from Trumpet label, also includes some Tiny Kennedy)
- “Tuff Enuff – Ace Blues Masters” – Westside (compilation that includes his classics “Steady” & “She’s Tough”)
I’ve found the best selection of blues harmonica CDs to be available at: