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Mighty Joe Young Biography

23 September 1927, Shreveport, Louisiana, USA, d. 24 March 1999, Chicago, Illinois, USA. Blues guitarist Joe Young grew up in the northern state of Wisconsin but later relocated to Louisiana before settling in Chicago in the 50s. There he briefly joined a group called Joe Little And His Heart Breakers before joining ex-Muddy Waters harmonica player Billy Boy Arnold in his band. He acquired his ‘Mighty’ nickname thanks to his muscular build, developed as a boxer in his younger days. He next went to guitarist Jimmy Rogers’ blues band in 1959, meanwhile recording several unsuccessful singles on his own. Young played with guitarist Otis Rush from 1960-63, still recording solo with no luck. He built a reputation as a session guitarist in the 60s, recording with artists such as Magic Sam, Willie Dixon and Tyrone Davis. Young recorded several albums of his own in the early 70s and became a popular blues nightclub act on Chicago’s North Side. He later appeared in public only as a singer, having lost sensation in his fingers following surgery for a pinched neck nerve. He died in March 1999 from complications arising from an operation which he had hoped would allow him to play guitar again.

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

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