Harmonica Heroes: James Cotton—100% Cotton

After playing and recording for close to 60 years, James Cotton is truly one of those blues harp players that deserves much wider recognition for his talents.cotton sq

Born on July 1st, 1935, in Tunica, Mississippi, James Cotton (called Cotton by his friends) grew up listening to his mother play chicken and train sounds on her harmonica. In fact, for a long while he believed those were the only two sounds the little instrument could make. When one year for Christmas Cotton received a harmonica of his very own, it was no time before he mastered it. That 15-cent gift would start one of blues harps’ greatest down his musical path.

At the age of nine, after both his parents passed away, his uncle brought him to Sonny Boy Williamson, who had his radio show King Biscuit Time. Young James Cotton impressed him so much that they became like father and son, and soon Cotton became his opening act on the road (albeit it was outside the clubs on the steps).

Listening to harp players like Sonny Boy Williamson, Cotton perfected his craft to the point he backed the great man himself, Muddy Waters.

The album we are concentrating on here is called 100% Cotton. A modern blues album that has its roots firmly grounded in the Delta. Without doubt one of the highlights is “Creeper Creeps Again” check it out below.

James Cotton has recorded some fantastic albums and really everything that you ever want to hear in a harp player playing the blues. His playing goes from raw, to soulful, and from sweet, to sexy, Cotton has it all.

Photo: James Marke

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