Obligatory harmonica playing by lead singers

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Quaco
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Obligatory harmonica playing by lead singers

Postby Quaco » 08 Mar 2018, 17:30

I'm thinking less of people who can actually play (Paul Butterfield, Stevie Wonder) and more the trend, mainly in the '60s coming out of listening to blues records, of lead singers having that obligatory additional role as occasional harp player, whether they were any good or not.

Mick Jagger
Brian Jones (not lead singer though)
Keith Relf
Robert Plant
Jack Bruce
Roger Daltrey
Ian Anderson
and many more

What are some of your favorite performances? Who did it best?
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Re: Obligatory harmonica playing by lead singers

Postby bobzilla77 » 08 Mar 2018, 17:47

Ozzy on The Wizard!
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Re: Obligatory harmonica playing by lead singers

Postby bobzilla77 » 08 Mar 2018, 17:49

I'd say Daltrey learning the Baba O'Riley solo was a good turn on his part. It made it possible to perform that song as a four-piece, making it one of the most crowd pleasing songs by the world's greatest live band.
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Re: Obligatory harmonica playing by lead singers

Postby Quaco » 08 Mar 2018, 17:53

I've been listening to a lot of Led Zeppelin lately, and have been surprised by how much I'm enjoying Robert Plant's harp playing. "Bring It On Home", "You Shook Me", "When the Levee Breaks" -- all over and above the pedestrian playing that was common.

Jagger's one great moment was "Midnight Rambler", no?
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Re: Obligatory harmonica playing by lead singers

Postby Osgood » 08 Mar 2018, 18:34

Is Ian Gillan the one who plays on Lazy? I like that one
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Re: Obligatory harmonica playing by lead singers

Postby Charlie O. » 08 Mar 2018, 18:52

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Re: Obligatory harmonica playing by lead singers

Postby Carl's Son » 08 Mar 2018, 19:09

John Lennon probably deserves a mention?
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Re: Obligatory harmonica playing by lead singers

Postby pcqgod » 08 Mar 2018, 19:10

I remember a clip of Van Morrison clumsily miming on American Bandstand, where he pulls a harmonica out of his pocket and brings it up to his mouth way after the harmonica part actually starts.
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Re: Obligatory harmonica playing by lead singers

Postby Bent Fabric » 08 Mar 2018, 19:39

Arthur Lee
Steven Tyler
Denny Laine

There was some gig recently where I had occasion to want to summon a harmonica sound from the Mellotron, only to realize that no instrument manufactured in the 1960s would have any need for a "fake harmonica" (the theory being that any group of musicians at that time would surely have a capable harmonica player in their ranks).

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Re: Obligatory harmonica playing by lead singers

Postby Pansy Puff » 08 Mar 2018, 20:42

Springsteen on Thunder Road.
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Re: Obligatory harmonica playing by lead singers

Postby LeBaron » 09 Mar 2018, 04:35

My instinct was to come on here and say something snarky and dismissive about the very concept. But on reflection, I don’t mind so much! Hell, I even like the LZ examples!
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Re: Obligatory harmonica playing by lead singers

Postby Muskrat » 09 Mar 2018, 05:04

His father was a classical harmonica player.



His probably wasn't

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Re: Obligatory harmonica playing by lead singers

Postby fange » 09 Mar 2018, 07:23

Bono.

The best adjective i've ever been able to use to describe his playing is adequate. Something like 'Desire' is the perfect example.
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Re: Obligatory harmonica playing by lead singers

Postby Rayge » 09 Mar 2018, 11:59

Van Morrison on Mystic Eyes by Them. Still a career peak for me.
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Re: Obligatory harmonica playing by lead singers

Postby Rayge » 09 Mar 2018, 12:02

And while I have no time at all for the bands they became, Paul Jones's harp playing made Manfred Mann seem like a good band at the beginning.
And not trolling, I've said it before, but the harmonica by Lennon, or whoever played it, made Love Me Do stand out for me.
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Re: Obligatory harmonica playing by lead singers

Postby Jimbo » 09 Mar 2018, 12:14

Know how you remember compliments you've received? I was a singer in band which played a number of Allman Brothers and J. Geils songs and one member, Billy, a pretty good musician, played the Duane Allman slide guitar parts on our Allman covers and then switched to the harp for the J. Geils songs. I only sang. Now, I'm still not sure how it works and I'll get this wrong but sorta, but if a song in the key of E, for some reason, I was told by Billy, the A harp was called for. You had to be a good harp player to get some harmony out of the two different keys. Anyway, one performance we were doing Midnight Rambler. We usually eliminated the harp part of the song that's on the record. Well, I had learned that the song's key was E (maybe) and just to see if would work, unbeknownst to the other band members I pulled an E harp from my pocket and blew when the harp played on the record and damn if I wasn't on key! Billy gave me a dirty look from his slide guitar post but I blew anyway. Afterwards while Billy gave me shit the bass player said - and i remember his exact words to this day - "I think it sounded pretty good." :D
Last edited by Jimbo on 09 Mar 2018, 12:16, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Obligatory harmonica playing by lead singers

Postby Jimbo » 09 Mar 2018, 12:14

Rayge wrote:And while I have no time at all for the bands they became, Paul Jones's harp playing made Manfred Mann seem like a good band at the beginning.
And not trolling, I've said it before, but the harmonica by Lennon, or whoever played it, made Love Me Do stand out for me.


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Re: Obligatory harmonica playing by lead singers

Postby take5_d_shorterer » 09 Mar 2018, 17:03

And then there're the folk prototypes due to Guthrie and Dylan, probably also Henry Thomas also he played pipes.

In blues, Howlin' Wolf is an obvious example of a bandleader who also played harp.

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Re: Obligatory harmonica playing by lead singers

Postby Charlie O. » 09 Mar 2018, 17:59

Al Wilson and Bob Hite both sang lead and both played harp in Canned Heat, although Wilson was by far the better at... well, both.


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Re: Obligatory harmonica playing by lead singers

Postby Moleskin » 09 Mar 2018, 18:49

Jimbo wrote: Now, I'm still not sure how it works and I'll get this wrong but sorta, but if a song in the key of E, for some reason, I was told by Billy, the A harp was called for. You had to be a good harp player to get some harmony out of the two different keysD


Only a requirement in blues. Play the harp two steps up from the key of the song. Otherwise you can't get the blue notes (iirc).

. Other musics differ.
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