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Charlie Musselwhite: Profile


Born in 1944 Kosicukio, Mississippi and raised in Tennessee, USA, Charlie Musselwhite is known for his vast contribution to the world of Blues music. Being at the forefront of the 60s US blues music scene he is a pioneer of his trade often known as a 'white bluesman' though his heritage lies in American-Thai.

Charlie began his musical career in Memphis at a time when black and white musical influences were blending and gave birth to rock and roll. During his teenage years he often attended shows to see Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis and Johnny Cash which were hugely influential. A few years later he was not only on the guest list at Elvis Presley shows but socialising while learning skills on harp and guitar from the 'King of Rock and Roll'.

Soon after he migrated to South Chicago to find a better life and a factory job. What he actually did was live beneath Delmark Records and walk the blues circuit. Here he made acquaintances with Muddy Waters, Howlin Wolf, Honeyboy Williamson and went on to build a close relationship with John Lee Hooker. The clubs in the area often referred to Charlie as 'son' taking them under his wing and allowing him the access he needed to live music that would hone his musical talent.

In 1966 Charlie released his debut album, Stand Back! which received the critical acclaim it deserved. It instantly placed him amongst the ground breaking artists in Blues and he was highly respected for his contribution, as he still does today.

Delta Hardware is one of his recent albums that has a mixture of Musselwhite's passion for blues harp. His writing is topical, emotive and honest. With two tracks inspired by hurricane Katrina. Here, Musselwhite writes from the heart painting an honest account of the environmental disaster. The album moves between country and blues while resonating a more rocky electric edge at times.

His body of work over the years comprises more than 20 albums of his own, and he has contributed to countless others including guesting on Bonnie Raitt's Grammy award-winning Longing In Their Hearts; The Blind Boys of Alabama's Grammy-winning Spirit of the Century; Tom Waits' Mule Variations and even playing the driving harmonica on INXS' Suicide Blonde. He was the longtime musical partner to his friend John Lee Hooker; in addition to using Charlie's harp playing on several of his albums, John Lee was also best man when Charlie married Henrietta.

On tour expect to find Charlie accompanied by a band where he mixes between the blues harp, vocals with the additional guitar at times. His live sets are as raw and passionate as his youthful years with the legendary howlin' blues legend still leading the way with his youthful spirit.

Musselwhite still tours and performs worldwide at special events including Worldwide Blues festivals such as Maryport Blues Festival to an ever growing audience. Being a leader in his field it is artists like Charlie who have influenced the likes of Tom Waits, Ben Harper to Dan Akroyd which has led to them sharing stages. Musselwhite can also be heard at the beginning of Tom Waits' huge number 'Chocolate Jesus'.
 

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