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I started a quest to find terrific blues music and incredible musicianship when I was just a little kid. I also have a tremendous appreciation of fine musical instruments and equipment. One of my greatest joys all of my life was sharing my finds with my friends. I'm now publishing my journey. I hope that you come along!

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Thursday, December 25, 2014

James Wheeler has Passed - Our thoughts are with his family and friends

It is with great sorrow that we learn that the great James Wheeler has passed away. Our thoughts are with his family and friends. We will release more details as they become available. James will be greatly missed at Rosa's Lounge, in the Chicago blues community and throughout the world. He was one of the sweetest human beings we have ever encountered and what a wonderful singer and picker he was too. Rest in sweet peace our dear James.
Blues guitarist James Wheeler was born in Albany, GA, on August 28, 1937. His earliest musical influences were the big bands of the time, especially Glenn Miller, Duke Ellington, and his first idol, Louis Jordan. Following his older brother Golden, Wheeler moved to Chicago in 1956. Golden had started playing harmonica in the clubs, becoming friends with many blues musicians, including Little Walter. It was after the move to Chicago that James Wheeler picked up the guitar and started jamming with local musicians. Wheeler's first big break came when he played guitar with Billy Boy Arnold, which lead to the formation of the Jaguars in 1963, backing up B.B. King, Millie Jackson, O.V. Wright, and Otis Clay. Clay was so impressed with Wheeler's playing that after the Jaguars broke up in 1972 he asked Wheeler to put together his touring band, which lasted three years. Following a brief tour with the Impressions, Wheeler took a non-music day job, picking up weekend gigs here and there for the next decade. In 1986, Wheeler received a call from Otis Rush asking him to play a weekend gig that turned full-time, lasting until 1993. After recording and touring stints with Mississippi Heat, Magic Slim, and Willie Kent, he released his much anticipated solo recording, Ready, in 1998 on Delmark Records. Featuring ten original tracks plus three covers, his band featured brother Big Golden Wheeler on harmonica and pianist Ken Saydak. Following a hectic tour schedule through Europe and South America, Wheeler's second release, Can't Take It, followed in 2000, again, on the Delmark label. Can't Take It spotlights all original compositions by Wheeler, fronting the same band, with the exception of Ron Sorin replacing Big Golden on harp.

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