The Rise of Junior Wells

Junior Wells and Buddy Guy

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Junior Wells (harmonica and vocals) and his main man Buddy Guy (guitar) deliver a powerful performance at Montreux 1974. Their song of choice is Messin’ With The Kid, first recorded by Junior in 1960.

Junior Wells was born December 9, 1934 in Memphis, Tennessee, and raised in West Memphis, Arkansas. Initially taught by his cousin, Junior Parker, and Sonny Boy Williamson II, Wells learned how to play the harmonica with surprising skill by the age of seven. He moved to Chicago in 1948 with his mother after her divorce and began sitting in with local musicians at house parties and taverns. Wild and rebellious but needing an outlet for his talents, he began performing with The Aces (comprised of guitarist brothers Dave and Louis Myers, and drummer Fred Below) with whom he developed a modern amplified harmonica style influenced by Little Walter.

Junior made his first recordings, when he replaced Little Walter in Muddy Waters’ band appearing on one of Muddy’s 1952 sessions for Chess Records. His first recordings as a band leader were made in the following year for States Records. In the later 1950s and early 1960s he recorded singles for Chief Records and its Profile Records subsidiary, including Come on in This House, It Hurts Me Too, and Messin’ with the Kid which remains Junior Wells’s best-known song. Considered a blues standard, Messin’ with the Kid has been recorded by a variety of blues and other artists.

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