Chicago-based blues harmonica player “Chicago” Bob Nelson has passed away at the age of 68.
The following was posted to his Facebook page.
“Rest In Peace to the Great Chicago Bob Nelson! Words cant express how much you will be missed Unc.. Until we meet again, hug grandma for me.. Love ya Unc… ~ NepH”
Nelson began playing harmonica at the age of 8, accompanying his bass-playing father at local parties and establishments. Among those who mentored him at an early age were Slim Harpo and Lazy Lester.
Much of his childhood included regular trips to his Aunt’s in Chicago, a city he grew to love and to which he moved in the early 60’s. It was there that he got to know most of the blues greats including Buddy Guy, Howlin’ Wolf, Junior Wells and Muddy Waters who gave Nelson his nickname. Among those with which Nelson has played are Waters, John Lee Hooker, Tinsley Ellis and Luther “Snake Boy” Johnson.
The combination of growing up in Louisiana and spending time in Chicago let Nelson develop a hybrid harp style that combined Louisiana zydeco, Cajun and blues styles with that of the Chicago greats.
Later in his life, Nelson also started recording some solo works along with playing with Tinsley Ellis and the Heart Fixers, the Shadows and his own King Bees.