Shakey Jake Harris

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Shakey Jake Harris (April 12, 1921 March 2, 1990) was an American Chicago blues singer, harmonicist and songwriter. Harris released five albums over a period of almost 25 years, and he was often musically associated with his nephew, Magic Sam.shakey jake harris

James D. Harris was born in Earle, Arkansas, but relocated with his family to Chicago, Illinois, at the age of seven. He played in several Chicago blues ensembles in the late 1940s. He also worked as a mechanic, and a professional gambler (from whence his nickname came - "Shake 'em"). His debut recording did not take place until 1958. His single, "Call Me If You Need Me" / "Roll Your Moneymaker", was released by Artistic Records, featured Magic Sam and Syl Johnson on guitar, and was produced by Willie Dixon. Harris was not paid for the session, but won $700 shooting craps with label owner Eli Toscano.

In 1960, Bluesville Records teamed Harris with the jazz musicians Jack McDuff and Bill Jennings, for the album Good Times. His later recording of Mouth Harp Blues returned to more traditional blues ground. Harris toured, and was part of the American Folk Blues Festival in 1962.

Throughout the 1960s Harris and Sam appeared regularly in concert together around Chicago, and Harris's patronage of younger musicians helped secure Luther Allison's recording debut. Harris moved on in the late 1960s, and recorded with Allison in Los Angeles on Further on Up the Road. He also played with other harmonica players, such as William Clarke.

Harris subsequently recorded for World Pacific. He also owned his own nightclub and a record label, but was forced by ill health to eventually return to Arkansas, where he died, at the age of 68, in March 1990.


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