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Big Walter Horton

Big Walter Horton Biography

Walter Horton (April 6, 1921 – December 8, 1981), known as Big Walter (Horton) or Walter ‘Shakey’ Horton, was an American blues harmonica player. A quiet, unassuming, shy man, he is remembered as one of the premier harmonica players in the history of blues. Willie Dixon once called Horton ‘the best harmonica player I ever heard’.

Robert Palmer named him as ‘one of the three great harmonica soloists of modern blues with the two others being cited as Little Walter and Sonny Boy Williamson II. Also known as ‘Mumbles’, ‘Shakey’, along with ‘Tangle Eye’ and ‘Shakey Head’ (because of his head motion whilst playing the harmonica, along with his suffering from nystagmus). Horton was known for his unique tongue-blocking techniques and tone.

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