June 3, 1924 – December 19, 1997
Recording history: late 1940′s for Ora-Nelle/Regal, 1950′s on Chess, late 1970′s on Shelter, 1990′s for Antones/Atlantic
Important/historic recordings: “Walkin’ By Myself”, “That’s Alright”, “Money, Marbles And Chalk”, “Act Like You Love Me”, “Left Me With A Broken Heart”
Random fact: Jimmy Rogers is known as one of the legends of Chicago blues for his guitar playing with Muddy Waters, as well as his classic blues songs cut on Chess, but he started out as a fine blues harmonica player.
About: Born James A. Lane in Mississippi, and raised in different areas such as Memphis (TN), Atlanta (GA), and St. Louis (MO). Played harmonica as a teen and landed in Chicago in the mid-1940′s. In the mid-1940′s worked with Sunnyland Slim, Sonny Boy Williamson, Floyd Jones, and others, until hooking up with Muddy Waters around 1947. When Jimmy finally teamed up with Muddy Waters & Little Walter (on harmonica), they were about to change the history of American Music…and in turn, the music scene the world over.
From around 1947 through 1955, Jimmy Rogers played 2nd guitar in the Muddy Waters Band, and was part of what is now referred to as the “Headhunters” (Muddy Waters, Little Walter, and Jimmy Rogers). The three of them, in the early days of post-war “Chicago”-style blues, would go from club to club “cuttin’ heads” of other musicians on stage with their mastery of blues, and new way of playing this music cohesively as a trio. Throughout the 1950′s Jimmy Rogers cut many of his own recordings for the Chess label, including classics such as “Ludella“, “Act Like You Love Me“, “Walkin’ By Myself“, “Blues All Day Long“, “Chicago Bound” and many others. On many of these classic Chess recordings he had used either Little Walter and Big Walter Horton – two of the best Chicago blues harmonica players.
In the 1960′s Jimmy Rogers left the music scene, and came back slowly in the 1970′s. In the 1990′s some more fine recordings came out, often with all-star backing bands. Jimmy Rogers not only was an integral part of the classic post-war Chicago blues scene (and therefore in the history of American music), but also put out some of the finest examples of post-war Chicago blues, in addition to being a harp player himself who could hold his own.
Recommended Recordings in-print:
- “Complete Chess Recordings”- MCA/Chess (THE collection of all his Chess recordings)
- “His Best Chess Sides” – MCA/Chess (if you can’t find the above 2-CD set)
- “Feelin’ Good” – Blind Pig (w/Rod Piazza & Mighty Flyers, circa 1980)
- “(All Stars) Blues Blues Blues” - Atlantic (last recording with many guests)
I’ve found the best selection of blues harmonica CDs to be available at: