Jerry Portnoy

Genres: Blues
Decades: 1990s 2000s


25 November 1943, Evanston, Illinois, USA. Portnoy’s father owned a rug store on Chicago’s Maxwell Street, and every Sunday his son could drink in the wealth of music to be heard in the bustling street market. Blues was an early influence but he took little interest in the piano lessons that began when he was 10, nor in the accordion or the guitar that he adopted during the folk boom. Portnoy did not take up the harmonica until he was 24, but within two years he had formed a duo with mandolinist Johnny Young. After a two-year stint, he joined Johnny Littlejohn’s band for a further two years before moving on to the Sam Lay Band. His career changed significantly in 1974 when Muddy Waters asked him to replace ‘Mojo’ George Buford. For the next six years, he toured the world and appeared on Waters’ three Blue Sky albums, two of which received Grammy Awards. In 1980, along with Pinetop Perkins, Calvin Jones and Little Willie Smith, he left...

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