(December 9, 1934-January 15, 1998)
Beginning his career in the early 1950s as musical disciple of harmonica legend Sonny Boy Williamson, Junior Wells entered the following decade as a dynamic Chicago blues performer. By the early 1960s Wells’ singing and performance style fell under the heavy influence of soul singer James Brown. After decades of playing in corner taverns, he has emerged as top attraction at music festivals and nightclubs around the world. Best known for long-time association with guitarist Buddy Guy, he continues to appear both as a solo act and in collaborations with his guitar associate -- a duo act that has, over the span of thirty years, introduced white rock musicians and mass audiences to the sounds of Chicago blues. Toward the end of his career, Wells just didn't seem to be into recording anymore; a pair of sets for Telarc Records in the early '90s were major disappointments, but his last studio session, 1997's Come on in This House, found him on the rebound and the critics noticed: the album won the W.C. Handy Blues Award for Traditional Blues Album in 1997. Even when he came up short in the studio, Wells remained a potent live attraction, cutting a familiar swaggering figure, commanding the attention of everyone in the room with one menacing yelp or a punctuating blast from his amplified harmonica.