Alexander “Papa/George” Lightfoot

 

March 2, 1924 – November 28, 1971

Recording history: Early-mid-1950’s for Sultan/Aladdin/Imperial/ Savoy, 1969 for Vault

Also recorded with: Champion Jack Dupree

Important/historic recordings: “Wine, Women & Whiskey”, “When The Saints Go Marching In”, “Mean Old Train”, “Jump The Boogie”, “Blue Lights”

Random fact: Many of today’s top blues harp players mention Papa Lightfoot on their list of favorite harp players, yet he only recorded a handful of singles and one LP, which is a testament to his ability (and unique approach) on the harp.

About: Born Alexander Lightfoot in Natchez, Mississippi, very little is known about this extraordinarily talented harp blower. Worked in the Natchez, MS and New Orleans, LA areas performing music & musical impersonations. After his initial recordings on the Sultan & Alladin labels, Lightfoot traveled on various Rhythm & Blues touring shows, even some including Rice Miller (Sonny Boy Wlliamson #2). Also toured with the Horace Heidt Orchestra after winning their talent contest in the mid-1950’s.

His recording session for the Imperial label (resulting in the songs “Wine, Women & Whiskey“, “Jump The Boogie“, “Mean Old Train” and “When the Saints Go Marching In“) from the early 1950’s still stands as one of the most referred-to sessions for “totally cool & influential” harp playing amongst blues harp players and aficionados worldwide. In 1970, Papa Lightfoot performed at the Ann Arbor Blues Festival. Unfortunately before he had a chance to have a bigger comeback on the blues circuit, he died in November 1971.

Recommended Recordings in-print:

  • “Blues Harmonica Wizards” - Official (amazing early sides, with some great bonus tracks of early Sam Myers)
  • “Going Back to the Natchez Trace” – Ace (re-issue of his last recordings from 1969, with bonus tracks)

I’ve found the best selection of blues harmonica CDs to be available at:

blues harmonica, blues harp, lessons, history
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