- I Ain’t Lyin’ (2015)
- Juke Joint Chapel (2013)
- The Well (2010)
- Vanguard Visionaries (2007)
- Delta Hardware (2006)
- Sanctuary (2004)
- One Night in America (2002)
- Stand Back! Here Comes Charlie Musselwhite (1967)
- Superharps (1999)
- Continental Drifter (1999)
- Rough News (1997)
- Takin’ Care of Business (1995)
- In My Time (1993)
- Signature (1991)
- Ace of Harps (1990)
- Memphis Charlie (1989)
- Curtain Call Cocktails (1988)
- Mellow-Dee (1986)
- Tell Me Where Have All the Good Times Gone? (1984)
- Dynatones Live (1982)
- Harmonica According to Charlie (1979)
- Times Gettin’ Tougher Than Tough (1978)
- Light of Your Shadow (1977)
- Leave the Blues to Us (1975)
- Goin’ Back Down South (1974)
- Blues from Chicago (1973)
- Mylon (1971)
- Takin’ My Time (1971)
- Chicago Blues Stars (1970)
- Memphis Tennessee (1970)
- Tennessee Woman (1969)
- Stone Blues (1968)
- Louisiana Fog (1968)
by Darius Randle (SHS)
Charlie Musselwhite was born on January 31, 1944, in Kosciusko, Mississippi. He is a harmonica player and a singer and was one of the early white blues musicians. Musselwhite began playing the harmonica at the age of thirteen. His father played the mandolin and was of Choctaw Indian ancestry (Clarke 840). Musselwhite moved north to Memphis when he started high school (Forte) where he went to school with Johnny Cash’s brother, another singer (Program: Governor’s Awards). Musselwhite moved north in search of the at- the-time nearly uncommon $3.00 an hour job.
While in Memphis, he became a familiar face at blues haunts like Pepper’s, Turners, and Theresa’s. After a while he started sitting in with and sometimes playing along side harmonica lords like as Little Walters, Shakey Horton, Good Rockin Charles, Carey Bell, Big John Wrencher, and Sonny Boy Williamson (Forte). Musselwhite was inspired to play the harmonica by hearing Sonny Terry on the radio, who was a harmonica great himself. Musselwhite mastered the harp and guitar thanks to Will Shade of the Memphis Jug Band (Santelli 304).
In 1962, Musselwhite moved to Chicago. While in Chicago, he performed with Johnny Young, Big Joe Williams and J.B. Hutto. He also linked up with another white blues musician by name of Mike Bloomfield. Later he went to join Paul Butterfield’s group (Larkin 2971). In Chicago he performed on Chicago’s legendary Maxwell Street (Santelli 305).
Musselwhite moved to California where he made his first solo recording for Vanguard (Larkin 2971). Before recording his first album, Musselwhite appeared on LP’s by Tracey Nelson, John Hammond. Charlie also dueted (as Memphis Charlie) with Shakey Horton on a Vanguard series. During his time in California, he traveled around the Bay Area playing in bars which resulted in a low profile but still national tour (Forte). A growing reputation made Musselwhite a favorite on the festival circuits in the U.S.A. and Europe (Larkin 2971-2972). Musselwhite recorded “Mellow Dee” during a German tour and “Cambridge Blues Live” for Mike Vernon’s Blue Horizon label.at Britain’s leading folk festival.
In 1966 his first album, “Stand Back! Here Comes Charlie Musselwhite’s Southside Blues Band,” became one of the first critically-acclaimed blues albums by a white musician (Program: Governor’s Awards). Around 1968, he performed in the United States at many of the period’s biggest blues festivals. In 1971, he signed with Arhoolie records. He also has recorded with many other labels: Paramount, Capitol, and Kicking Mule (Santelli 305). From 1974-75 he recorded an album for Chris Strachwitx Arhoolic label and did an instructional record for Stetan Grossman’s Kicking Mule (Forte).
In 1981, he married a woman by the name of Henrietta, and his best man was the blues great, John Lee Hooker (Program Notes for Governor’s Awards 2000). Around the world Charlie Musselwhite is known as a blues harmonica artist and guitarist. He has done many tours around the world, and he usually ends his concert with this advice, “If you love the blues, you need to make the pilgrimage, not a trip, but a pilgrimage to Clarksdale and the Mississippi Delta. This is where all the greats come from: Charlie Patton, Son House and Muddy Waters, blues come right out the ground, you can reach down and put some in your pocket.”
Two serious accidents have marred Musselwhite’s life in the past two years. In December, 1999, Musselwhite’s car was broad sided by an 18 wheeler while he was vacationing in Mexico. The accident resulted in a hospital stay of several weeks for Musselwhite. In October of 2000, Henrietta, Musselwhite’s wife, was bitten by a shark in the waters off Maui. Both Musselwhite and his wife have recovered from their injuries.
In March of 2000 he won The Artist’s Achievement Award, which is a Mississippi Governor’s Awards For Excellence in the Arts. Musselwhite also is a six-time winner of the W.C. Handy Award. The New York Times has called him a “harmonica master.” Charlie can play the harmonica so well that critics claim he can make the harmonica sing the blues without words (Program). In 1990, he signed with Alligator records and hit the charts with an album called Ace of Harps (Santelli 305). In 1999, he toured in Europe with B.B. King, a fellow Mississippian. “Continental Drifter” is his current C.D. In 1967, he moved to Sonoma Valley, California, where he lives today (Program).
- Six-Time Winner of the W.C. Handy Award
- Governor’s Award: The Artist’s Achievement Award 2000
- Being called an “Harmonica Master” by the New York Times
- Known as one of the best white blues musician
- Plays in the major blues festivals around the United States and all over the world
- 11 Grammy Award Nominations
- 1944- Charlie was born in Kosciusko, Mississippi, on January 31
- 1957- He started playing the harmonica at the age of 13
- 1959- Moved to Memphis
- 1962- moved to Chicago
- 1968- He began performing in the U.S. in many blues festivals
- 1967- Moved to Sonoma Valley, California
- 1971- Signed with Arhoolie Records
- 1974- He recorded an album Arhoolie label
- 1975- He recorded an instructional record for Kickin’ Mule
- 1981-Married a women by the name of Henrietta
- 1990- Signed with Alligator Record
- 1999- Toured in Europe
- 2000- In March he won a Mississippi Governor’s Award for the Arts
- 2010 – Inducted into Blues Hall of Fame
- 2011 – Featured on Cyndi Lauper’s Memphis Blues
- 2013 – performed at the White House
- 2014 – Grammy Award fro Get Up! Ben Harper with Charlie Musselwhite
- Clarke, Donald ed. “Musselwhite,Charlie.” The Penguin Encyclopedia of Popular Music. New York: Penguin,1989. 840-841.
- Larkin, Colin ed. “Musselwhite, Charlie.” The Guinness Encyclopedia of Popular Music. New York: Stockton Press, 1995. 2971-2972.
- Forte,Dan. “Charlie Musselwhite.” All Music Guide. [Online] Available http://allmusic.com/cg/x.ddll?p=arng&sql+sql=b472,
- Santelli,Robert. “Musselwhite,Charlie.” The Big Book of Blues. New York: Penguin, 1993. 304-305.
- Governor’s Awards For Excellence in the Arts (Program). March 17, 2000