Raful Neal (June 6, 1936 – September 1, 2004) was an
American, Louisiana blues singer, harmonicist and songwriter.
Born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and reared by his aunt and uncle on a tenant
farm in Chamberlin, West Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana, United States, Neal
took up the blues harp at age 14, tutored by a local player named Ike Brown
and influenced by Little Walter. Neal's first band, the Clouds, also
included the guitarist, Buddy Guy. Neal debuted on vinyl in 1958 with a
single for Don Robey's Houston, Texas based Peacock Records. But "Sunny Side
of Love" was not successful.
Neal's debut album, Louisiana Legend, first emerged on King Snake Records
and was picked up by Alligator Records in 1990. I Been Mistreated, Neal's
follow-up, was released on Ichiban Records the following year. Neal toured
around the world and in 1997 he contributed harp to a couple of tracks on
Tab Benoit's Live: Swampland Jam record. Neal's next long-player, Old
Friends, appeared in 1998. After a long bout with cancer, Neal died in Baton
Rouge, in September 2004.
Nine of his ten children are also blues musicians, and several performed
with him on his later releases on the Alligator label.