Snooky Pyror

James Edward “Snooky” Pryor (September 15, 1919 or 1921 – October 18, 2006) was an American Chicago blues harmonica player. He claimed to have pioneered the now-common method of playing amplified harmonica by cupping a small microphone in his hands along with the harmonica, although on his earliest records, in the late 1940s, he did not use this method.

Pryor was born in Lambert, Mississippi, United States. He developed a country blues style influenced by Sonny Boy Williamson I (John Lee Williamson) and Sonny Boy Williamson II (Aleck Ford “Rice” Miller). In the mid-1930s, in and around Vance, Mississippi, Pryor played in impromptu gatherings of three or four harmonica players, including Jimmy Rogers, who then lived nearby and had yet to take up playing the guitar. Pryor moved to Chicago around 1940.

While serving in the U.S. Army he would blow bugle calls through a PA system, which led him to experiment with playing the harmonica that way. However, Most historians credit the idea to Little Walter. Upon discharge from the Army in 1945, he obtained his own amplifier and began playing harmonica at the outdoor Maxwell Street Market, becoming a regular on the Chicago blues scene.


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