Centerstage - Chicago's Original City Guide

Virtual L ®

Musician At Work Forums in Chicago. Learn the Biz.
Who's Who - Music

Styles: Blues, Harmonica Players, People

Directory: B
Own Carey Bell Today!
Clubs & Venues
By Style
A to Z
Reviews by Users
Articles & Features
All Articles
CRUMB and FestFile is Centerstage Chicago's Weekly E-Newsletter.
Enter your email to get
our weekly newsletter:

Carey Bell
One of Chicago's defining harpists (though often overshadowed by legends like Junior Wells)... Born in Macon, Mississippi on November 14, 1936, Bell moved to Chicago in 1956 with his godfather, respected blues and country and western pianist Lovie Lee. After having taught himself to play harmonica at eight years old, he started taking lessons from Little Walter, and met Honeyboy Edwards. He remains an eloquent harpist with a commanding voice. He also has a good ear for sidemen...

Bell sat in on sessions in various south- and west- side blues clubs in the fifties and sixties and even busked on Maxwell Street for spare cash. He taught himself the bass to make himself more employable, and since has played both instruments with Muddy Waters, Willie Dixon, John Lee Hooker, Earl Hooker, Robert Nighthawk, Eddie Taylor, Lowell Fulsom and Jimmy Dawkins. His 1991 effort Mellow Down Easy (Blind Pig Records) is a great example of the power and vitality of Bell's harp playing. He injects a great deal of melodicism and feeling in reinterpreting traditional blues classics such as "St. Louis Blues," "Short Dress Woman," and "Five Long Years." He's still in top form, too -- he was nominated for a 1996 Handy Award (Blues Instrumentalist - Harmonica). His latest release, Good Luck Man, his second well-received full-length on Alligator Records, won W.C. Handy Awards for Album of The Year and Artist of the Year. Carey has added a few tracks to his son's upcoming Lurrie Bell and the "Vampin' Blues Band".

His kids are bluesfolk too... His son, guitarist Lurrie Bell -- well known in Chicago of his own accord -- accompanies his father both at clubs on in the studio.

Carey Bell died of heart failure on May 6, 2007 in Chicago.

Got a correction? Click Here

Pages linking to this one include:

  • Delmark Records
  • 'Honeyboy' Edwards
  • Lovie Lee
  • Tail Dragger
  • chicago, metromix