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One of the foremost electric blues harpists of the modern era, Sugar Blue was born James Whiting in New York City in 1950. The son of a singer/dancer who regularly performed at the legendary Apollo Theater, he was given his first harmonica at the age of ten, and by his mid-teens had already performed in the company of Muddy Waters; in the early '70s he made his first recordings, sitting in on sessions by the likes of Johnny Shines and Louisiana Red. Sugar Blue relocated to Paris in 1976, where he was introduced to the Rolling Stones; he went on to play on the group's LPs Some Girls, Emotional Rescue, and Tattoo You, lending his skills to such hits as "Miss You." He also played on jazz dates for Stan Getz and Paul Horn, and in 1979 cut the solo efforts Crossroads (1979) and From Paris to Chicago (1982). In 1985, Blue won a Grammy Award for his participation on the Atlantic compilation Blues Explosion. Upon returning to the U.S. in the mid-'80s, Sugar Blue settled in Chicago, and after signing to Alligator, he cut Blue Blazes in 1994, followed a year later by In Your Eyes. Over the coming years he continued to perform and tour, though it would be 12 years before his next album, 2007's Code Blue, was released. Threshold appeared in 2010 followed two years later by the live album Raw Sugar. 2016 would prove to be a banner year for the veteran bluesman, with the release of a new studio album called Voyage, a world tour, and an appearance in the documentary film Sidemen, A Long Road to Glory. ~ Jason Ankeny & Timothy Monger
16 December 1949 in New York, NY
'70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s