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James Harman


James Harman

James Harman
Birth name James Harman
Born (1946-06-08) June 8, 1946 (age 68)
Anniston, Alabama, United States
Genres Blues
Occupations Harmonicist, singer, songwriter
Instruments Harmonica, vocals, piano, guitar, drums
Years active 1970s-present
Labels Black Top, various

James Harman (born June 8, 1946, Anniston, Alabama, United States) is an American blues harmonica player, singer, and songwriter.[1] Music journalist Tony Russell described Harman as an "amusing songwriter and an excellent, unfussy harp player".[2]


Born Leslie James Harman, at the age of four, Harman began lessons in piano playing, and also sang in his local church choir. Harmonicas owned by his father were stored in the piano bench, and James tried playing them after his piano lessons ended. In time, he became capable in several other musical instruments, including guitar, electric organ, and drums.[3]

In 1962 he relocated to Panama City, Florida, where he played in many rhythm and blues bands, of which The Icehouse Blues Band was the last. Earl Caldwell, manager of The Swinging Medallions, signed Harman to a recording contract. In 1964 in Atlanta, Georgia, Harman recorded the first of nine early singles, which were variously released on five different record labels.[3]

Harman performed as a blues harmonica player and singer in Chicago, New York, and elsewhere before moving to southern California in the 1970s.[2] There, his Icehouse Blues Band played alongside Big Joe Turner, John Lee Hooker, Freddie King, Muddy Waters, Albert King, B. B. King, T-Bone Walker, Lowell Fulsom, Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson, Johnny "Guitar" Watson, and Albert Collins.[3] In 1977 he formed the James Harman Band. Over the years their line-up has included Phil Alvin and Bill Bateman, who left in 1978 to form The Blasters; Gene Taylor, who departed in 1981, also to join the Blasters before moving on to The Fabulous Thunderbirds; and Kid Ramos. Alumni also included the late Hollywood Fats who, after leaving his own band in 1980, played alongside Harman for five years.[3]

Harman became known as a skilled, reliable musician, whether for a backing band or leading his own ensemble. His band recorded several albums during the 1980s, before settling in 1990 at Black Top Records.[2]

Numerous Harman songs have been used in films and on television, including "Kiss of Fire" (from Those Dangerous Gentlemen), which was on the soundtrack of The Accused. Harman has received several W. C. Handy Blues Award nominations, for songs on his own releases and on other artists' albums. He has been inducted into the Alabama Music Hall of Fame and received the "Best Blues Album of the Year" award from the Real Blues magazine.[3]

In 1995 Harman recorded a song named for the Zoo Bar club in Lincoln, Nebraska.[4] "Everybody's Rockin' (At The Zoo Bar)" can be found on Harman's Black & White album.[5]

Harman has also performed at the Long Beach Blues Festival, and around the world in concert.[3]

In 2003 Harman appeared on the ZZ Top album Mescalero, on the song "Que Lastima" and, in 2012, on La Futura,[6] on the song "Heartache In Blue".


  • Those Dangerous GentlemenRhino (1987)
  • Extra Napkins – Rivera Records (1988)
  • Strictly Live... In '85!, Vol. 1 (1990)
  • Do Not DisturbBlack Top (1991)
  • Two Sides to Every Story – Black Top (1993)
  • Cards on the Table – Black Top (1994)
  • Black & White – Hep Cat Records (1995)
  • Takin' Chances – Cannonball Records (1998)
  • Icepick's Story – Me & My Blues (1999)
  • Lonesome Moon Trance – Pacific Blues (2003)[7]

See also


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