Happy Birthday Junior Parker

 

 

 

 

Biography

” His velvet-smooth vocal delivery to the contrary, Junior Parker was a product of the fertile postwar Memphis blues circuit whose wonderfully understated harp style was personally mentored by none other than regional icon Sonny Boy Williamson.

  Herman Parker, Jr. only traveled in the best blues circles from the outset. He learned his initial licks from Williamson and gigged with the mighty Howlin’ Wolf while still in his teens. Like so many young blues artists, Little Junior (as he was known then) got his first recording opportunity from talent scout Ike Turner, who brought him to Modern Records for his debut session as a leader in 1952. It produced the lone single “You’re My Angel,” with Turner pounding the 88s and Matt Murphy deftly handling guitar duties.

  Parker and his band, the Blue Flames (including Floyd Murphy, Matt‘s brother, on guitar), landed at Sun Records in 1953 and promptly scored a hit with their rollicking “Feelin’ Good” (something of a Memphis response to John Lee Hooker‘s primitive boogies). Later that year, Little Junior cut a fiery “Love My Baby” and a laid-back “Mystery Train” for Sun, thus contributing a pair of future rockabilly standards to the Sun publishing coffers (Hayden Thompson revived the former, Elvis Presley the latter).

  Before 1953 was through, the polished Junior Parker had moved on to Don Robey‘s Duke imprint in Houston. It took a while for the harpist to regain his hitmaking momentum, but he scored big in 1957 with the smooth “Next Time You See Me,” an accessible enough number to even garner some pop spins.” Continue reading

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