This is the latest from The Bluesmobile’s C.C. Rider, who spends her life venerating the founding fathers of the blues. She’s walked the crooked highways of this singing country to resurrect the voices of the past. With the dirt of the Delta on her hands, she sleeps in the shadow of the giants on whose shoulders popular music now stands.
(September 15, 1921 – October 18, 2006)
The man called Snooky, born James Edward Pryor, picked up the harmonica at age 14, despite the objections of his preacher dad. Later, in the Army, he started blowing bugle calls on the harp through the PA system. The incredible power of the amplification system inspired him to pick up his own rig once he got out of the service. Despite his primitive amp, soon enough he was the loudest mother on Chicago’s Maxwell Street.
Snooky Pryor waxed some seriously groundbreaking 78s in the post-war period. His very first recording, a track called “Snooky and Moody’s Boogie” is particularly significant in blues history. You might recognize that lick. Some say Little Walter lifted it for his record-shattering instrumental breakthrough “Juke.” Little Walter is often credited with being the first to amplify his harmonica. Seeing as Walter probably stole that lick from Snooky, we can believe Mr. Pryor when he says his Army PA system was the first super-loud harmonica experimentation. But no matter who did it first, Snooky’s still a master. Crucial in the development of harmonica styling. I’ll prove it to ya. From 1948, “Telephone Blues.”