Harlem Hamfats

Genres: Blues
Decades Active: 1980s 1990s 2000s

Biography

Despite their name, the Hamfats were based in Chicago, Illinois, and were perhaps the first group created (by J. Mayo Williams) solely to make records. With some variation, the personnel consisted of New Orleans trumpeter Herb Morand, the brothers Joe and Charlie McCoy on guitar and mandolin, clarinettist Odell Rand, pianist Horace Malcolm, John Lindsay or Ransom Knowling on bass, and Pearlis Williams or Fred Flynn on drums. Morand and Joe McCoy (as ‘Hamfoot Ham’) handled the vocals. The Hamfats blended New Orleans jazz with blues, the primary aim being to provide entertaining, danceable music. Their first release, ‘Oh! Red’, was a considerable hit in 1936, and was frequently reworked, both by the Hamfats themselves and by others. They recorded extensively, and were also used as studio accompanists until 1939, by which time Morand had returned to New Orleans, and changing fashions had made their sound no longer commercially attractive.

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