Big Wheeler Biography

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Golden Wheeler, 15 December 1929, Beaconton, Georgia, USA. Wheeler’s first encounter with a harmonica came about through Buster Brown, whom he heard on WALB, a local radio station. He left Georgia in 1941 and after spending time in New Jersey and Ohio, he arrived in Chicago at the time that Muddy Waters and Little Walter were first making their presence known. Wheeler formed his own band in 1956 with Walter ‘Big Red’ Smith, Donald Griffin and Johnny Swan. Others with whom he worked in clubs and at house parties included Little Eddie King, Willie Black and his brother James. Although he continued to play over the next three decades, he always kept his job as a mechanic. His first recordings were made in 1990 and illustrated his debt to Little Walter. Bone Orchard was recorded in two sessions in August 1992 and February 1993, accompanied by the Ice Cream Men, led by disc jockey and drummer Steve Cushing. The band, normally including harmonica player Scott Dirks, was formed in 1980 to back Little Smokey Smothers. Wheeler sings and plays harmonica unadventurously but well, although the deliberate air of recreation is hard to dispel and gives little clue to what originality he might possess.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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