Juke (2:44)

Cover of Little Walter

From Little Walter and 155 other releases

“Juke” is a harmonica instrumental recorded by then 22-year-old Chicago bluesman Little Walter Jacobs in 1952. Although Little Walter had been recording sporadically for small Chicago labels over the previous five years, and had appeared on Muddy Waters’ records for the Chess label since 1950, Juke was Little Walter’s first hit, and it was the most important of his career. Due to the influence of Little Walter on blues harmonica, Juke is now considered a standard.

In May 1952, Little Walter had been a regular member of the Muddy Waters Band for at least 3 years. Juke was recorded on 12 May 1952 at the beginning (not the end, as commonly thought) of a recording session with Muddy Waters and his band, which at the time consisted of Waters and Jimmy Rogers on guitars, and Elga Edmunds on drums, in addition to Little Walter on harmonica. The originally released recording of Juke was the first completed take of the first song attempted at the first Little Walter session for Leonard Chess; the song was released three months later on Chess’s subsidiary label Checker Records. The song was recorded by recording engineer Bill Putnam at his Universal Recorders studio at 111 E. Ontario St. on the near north side of Chicago, Illinois. (Coincidentally, several years earlier Putnam had recorded one of the few other harmonica instrumentals ever to become a hit record, “Peg O’ My Heart” by The Harmonicats.)

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