Little Walter was born Marion Walter Jacobs on May 1, 1930, in Marksville, Louisiana. Marksville was a small, rural town that Jacobs was bound to outgrow. He had become a talented musician at an early age. By the time he was 12, he set out for a new life in New Orleans.
Walter spent some time in Memphis, Tennessee. He performed often, playing his signature instrument, the harmonica (harp). He then moved to St. Louis, Missouri. He finally settled down in Chicago, Illinois where the music scene was happening. He began performing alongside other local musicians on Maxwell Street.
In 1947, Walter recorded his first tune, I Just Keep Loving You, for Ora Nelle, a local label. In 1948, he met soon-to-be blues legend Muddy Waters. By 1950, they recorded Waters’ first track, Louisiana Blues. They followed that one with She Moves Me. The latter track is the first recording where Walter used an amplified harmonica.
Shortly after recording their first tracks together, Walter and Waters formed a group. They recruited local musicians Jimmy Rogers and Baby Face Leroy Foster. Together they formed the Headhunters. They became one of the hottest blues bands in Chicago and were known for disrupting bands during their sets by playing louder than them.
In 1950, Walters recorded his song, Juke. It became a major success and brought him fame that he never anticipated. He then recorded more solo tunes, placing 14 songs in the Top 10 on the R&B charts. One of his most famous Top 10 hits was My Babe. He established himself as a great singer but that talent was overshadowed by his harp skills.
Rock ‘n’ Roll
As the 1950s raged on, music inevitably changed. The public focus shifted from the low down, dirty blues that Walter and Waters produced to the light-hearted Rock ‘n’ Roll that artists like Chuck Berry produced. In 1959, Walter recorded his last hit, Everything’s Gonna Be Alright. He then disappeared from the mainstream.
During the 1960s, Walter struggled with the evolution of the music industry. Audiences no longer wanted to hear Chicago blues which left him without a platform. He turned to alcohol which only worsened his innately bad temper. In 1968, his temper landed him in a fight. He suffered major blows to the head. Little Walter ultimately died from his injuries. He was 37 years old.
**The views and actions of the DDH historical figures that are featured may not reflect the views and beliefs of Ramiro The Writer. Thank you.**