Junior Wells was considered the direct musical descendant of modern blues harmonica legends John Lee Sonny Boy Williamson, Sonny Boy Williamson II (Rice Miller) and Little Walter Jacobs. An exponent of blues, funk and soul music, Wells developed a style incorporating all of those genres, and was a consummate stage performer who could back it all up.
Born Amos Blakemore in 1934, Junior was raised on a farm in rural West Memphis and Marion, Arkansas. He became intensely interested in the music flowing from the fertile blues culture of Memphis and learned harmonica from his cousin Little Junior Parker. After his parents separated, the wild and rebellious Junior moved with his mother to Chicago in 1946. There he discovered that music would be the most important thing in his life.
His teenage years were spent playing hooky from school, scrambling change from odd jobs and practicing his harmonica. His interest in the local blues musicians found the underage Junior sneaking into various clubs, vying to sit-in with bands. His earliest such escapade was in 1948 sneaking into the C & T Lounge where Tampa Red and Johnny Jones let the young harpist show his skills. A now famous incident was when Junior convinced his sister and her then-boyfriend, a Chicago policeman, to escort him to Sam's Ebony Lounge where the celebrated Muddy Waters band (with Little Walter Jacobs and Jimmy Rogers) were playing. I went up to Muddy and told him I played harp...Muddy said he'd let me try. Little Walter said, That little shrimp. They stood me on a coke box to reach the mike and I made $45 in tips....Walter asked me if I ever played the sax before!