Dirty-South Blues Harp forum: wail on! > greatest harmonica players of all time - list
greatest harmonica players of all time - list
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6207 posts
Mar 25, 2017
2:12 PM
Please check out this list, on Rankers.com, and vote. If you think somebody is ranked too highly, hit the downward arrow. And vice versa.

Greatest Harmonica Players of All Time
ted burke
542 posts
Mar 25, 2017
2:57 PM
a meaningless list, really. too many of the musicians have nothing in common stylistically, in genre, technique, feel, expressiveness that attempting to rate one over the other is a waste of time. larry adler v little walter v lee oskar? and so on? really?
Ted Burke

1075 posts
Mar 25, 2017
2:57 PM
I see Sir Mick Jagger made the list
Lucky Lester
1383 posts
Mar 25, 2017
3:11 PM
What Ted said...

An interesting list of mainly great players, but from different times, many playing different instruments, in different genres of music: apples and oranges and tomatoes!


Doug S.
1688 posts
Mar 25, 2017
3:15 PM
A lot of omissions. Charlie McCoy should be in the top ten, so should Jason Ricci, Larry Adler, Butterfield and Paul Delay.
1046 posts
Mar 25, 2017
4:49 PM
My notable MIA: Jerry McCain

This kind of list will never make everyone happy. We have forum members that qualify for some of the slots that are taken.
6209 posts
Mar 25, 2017
4:55 PM
Tough crowd! I'd like to hear from Winslow. SPAH isn't just about blues harmonica, but about ALL harmonica. Winslow, how does the crowdsourced Top-10 all time harmonica player list compare to your own personal list?
1047 posts
Mar 25, 2017
5:06 PM
Where is Tommy Morgan?

Edited to remove extraneous.

Last Edited by JustFuya on Mar 25, 2017 6:50 PM
591 posts
Mar 25, 2017
5:16 PM
I would put Jerry Murad right up there at the top.
Wisdom does not always come with old age. Sometimes old age arrives alone.
Garlic Breath
72 posts
Mar 25, 2017
8:11 PM
One good thing about the list, it shows me all the names to place above myself. As I grow older, the moderating of my testosterone level allows me to spend much more time reflectively pondering life, and what is really most important. As the span of time ahead becomes shorter than that behind, I've come to the realization that the mathematical symbols < > (less than, greater than) are useful within the world of mathematical calculation, and distracting to the point of destruction within the world of human interaction. When I hear someone playing well in any genre I feel kinship for them as they share that which inspires them. When I hear someone struggling in their efforts, I see myself, when I was on that section of the path, just as those ahead see themselves in me. Who's greater than, who's less than? Let's all try to be just a little bit better at the close of tomorrow, than we were today.

Last Edited by Garlic Breath on Mar 25, 2017 8:48 PM
63 posts
Mar 25, 2017
8:26 PM
William clark
342 posts
Mar 25, 2017
10:30 PM
I agree with Ted,It is a pointless exercise..Probably every list member here would put someone different at the top....and all the way down the other rankings as well.
Unless it is a quantifiable exercise like the best chess player, or the fastest 100M sprinter it is all subjective hyperbole.
Really anyone who gets on the list is going to be a very good player in their chosen genre.
PS.I am not on the list ^)
27 posts
Mar 26, 2017
7:15 AM
Interesting list. I think it would be more valuable were there a way to submit an artist. There's nothing wrong with a "which kind of fruit is most popular?" list. Just a different viewpoint compared to "What variety of apple is most popular?" The purpose of a list like this is to spark conversation and debate. Seems like it's working. ;-)

Thanks for sharing, @kudzurunner
1279 posts
Mar 26, 2017
10:06 AM
It's kind of a helter skelter list, with many omitted who deserve to be there as much as or more than some who are included.

How was the list started? Seems as if someone just listed all the names they could remember and put that up for voting. So in a sense, if I'm right about that, it's not crowdsourced in its generation and therefore fundamentally flawed.

But let's say others could add names - which has been specifically disabled. What it then would become is simply

1) An awareness metric. If you've never heard of a player, how can you evaluate them. For instance, Susan Sauter is on the list. How many here have ever heard of her? (Not a comment on her playing, which I hold in high regard.)

2) Among those known, it becomes largely a popularity contest.

If the survey in meant to gauge those two things (and it can't make a clear distinction between them) then, OK, it gauges popularity basically.

Significant omissions not already mentioned, from my perspective, off the top of my head:

Leo Diamond
Grégoire Maret
Antonio Serrano
Brendan Power
Hermine Deurloo
Michal Adler
William Clarke
Hammie Nixon
Donald Black
Hugo Diaz
Norton Buffalo
Rod Piazza
Rhythm Willie
Jimmie Riddle
Kyle Wooten


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2283 posts
Mar 26, 2017
10:20 AM
I'm shocked at the people who Didn't make the list. And some that did.

Mick Jagger makes the list.

No William Clarke
Paul Oscher
George Smith
Rod Piazza
Steve Guyger
Jason Ricci

I could go on and on at people who are more deserving than half the folks on that list. Ofcourse that's just my opinion.

Last Edited by Killa_Hertz on Mar 27, 2017 4:17 AM
14 posts
Mar 26, 2017
2:20 PM
And no Tommy Morgan?
384 posts
Mar 26, 2017
3:05 PM
The list is fundamentally flawed due to the fact that Bob Dylan's name was purposely and willfully omitted.

Oh . . . the humanity.

Other than that, it's good fun
The Iceman
3085 posts
Mar 26, 2017
6:33 PM
"Why So Serious"?

What a fun list. Doesn't amount to a hill of beans in this ol' world, but what the heck.

I like the fact that Carlos del Junco is in the upper half.

Who knows who started it and who cares? It's not gonna change anything, so why not indulge in a bit o' whimsey?
The Iceman
1048 posts
Mar 26, 2017
8:41 PM
Ah, but a bit o' whimsy 'tis.

How about an alphabetical list entitled, "The Best Harp Players That I'm Aware Of". We could slip our own names in that one.
385 posts
Mar 26, 2017
8:51 PM
I just pressed the "up" arrow for whimsey, and feel very satisfied with my choice
John M G
109 posts
Mar 27, 2017
12:45 AM
I think Winslow has it spot on.
And I'm not embarrassed to admit I only have music from 5 of his significant omissions and will certainly search out some of those others.
I'd add Jason and Adam, Mark Hummel, Paul Jones, Will Wilde, Bobby Rush, Alan Wilson, Chris Wilson, Continental Robert Susz
136 posts
Mar 27, 2017
8:48 AM
The Three Kings are missing: Sugar Blue, Billy Branch, Jason Ricci. And they're alive and kicking.
38 posts
Mar 27, 2017
9:39 AM
I think Ted got it right at the outset and Winslow drove it home. When you see a highly diverse list of pop, blues, jazz, country and classical harmonica players, drawn from a 70-80 year period, the list become long and almost meaningless. Also, when I see a list that leaves out the likes of Charlie McCoy, Hugo Diaz, Michal Adler, Jean Jacques Milteau, and Flávio Guimarães I presume it reflects on a limited scope of knowledge.

On the blues side, I remember asking guitarist Luther Tucker what harp players he liked (he played on numerous Sonny Boy sessions and was with Little Walter almost 8 years), and he responded "Little Willie Anderson and Earring George Mayweather" so here's two guys not close to this list. Mr. Robert Lockwood Jr., who played on countless sessions behind Walter and Sonny Boy, and admittedly didn't care for harmonica, ultimately asked one harmonica player, Wallace Coleman, (not on this list) to play with his group - and that relationship lasted about ten years.

So I guess it's all what YOU hear and what you've heard that defines YOUR likes and list. And I did like Rontana's reference on this list. Because I think Herbert Morrison nailed lists in his Hindenburg commentary, "...this is terrible...oh, the humanity." And other than that, it's good fun.

Last Edited by BnT on Mar 27, 2017 9:42 AM
4595 posts
Mar 27, 2017
2:05 PM
Charlie McCoy is there.
Blind Melon
72 posts
Mar 30, 2017
9:26 AM
A lot of names missing, mostly the blues icons that we know and love.

But I think they got the top 5 or 6 right IMHO.
210 posts
Mar 30, 2017
5:34 PM
I just bumped Larry Adler and Howard Levy up the list. I've seen both of them live.
Tony Eyers
everyone plays...
762 posts
Apr 02, 2017
12:31 PM
Very hard to make any sort of list that makes sense with no criteria. For example, Little Walter, Big Walter and others of their generation deserve their legendary status but in placing them in an order of greatness as players, Kim Wilson has arguably way more technique at his command and decades more experience in developing his playing having outlived most of the pioneers for a start. Was T-Bone Walker a better guitar player than Hendrix, for another example? I like the idea of a list but not a ranking.

20 posts
Apr 03, 2017
5:34 PM
I think Gary Primich should be on there.

Hearing him live was like a religious experience, for me at least.
1745 posts
Dec 07, 2017
9:12 AM
I have no idea whether Adam posted this ironically or not. I wondered why no-one here had added Jason to the list. So I did it. Probably it's a bullshit website and I don't get the point and it was very stupid of me.
2402 posts
Dec 07, 2017
9:37 AM
Here's my question: How can you list anything of ALL TIME? All time implies the future as well as present and past. Who can predict the next nuclear atomic prodigy to come down the pike?
I'd agree to a list of the greatest harmonica players since harmonica was invented, up to NOW.



9679 posts
Dec 07, 2017
2:13 PM
You can add names to the list, apparently, all though I haven't figured out how.

Hmm, I seem to be able to get a version that shows my votes or a version that shows no votes.

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First Post- May 8, 2009

Last Edited by nacoran on Dec 07, 2017 2:15 PM
3045 posts
Dec 10, 2017
5:28 AM
scratch bob dylan.........his playing is sloppy.....dont much care for popper
128 posts
Dec 13, 2017
9:09 AM
I don't know if I want to resurrect this, but I can't believe the one and only Sharpharp isn't on the list let alone near the top...

Insert winky face smart ass emoticon here!

Last Edited by kham on Dec 13, 2017 9:59 AM
366 posts
Dec 14, 2017
10:59 PM
Lot of great players on that list. But Steven Tyler? No. We have to draw the line somewhere. Edit: How seriously can you take a greatest harmonica player list that does not include William Clarke or Mark Hummel or Jimmy Reed?

Last Edited by DanP on Dec 19, 2017 5:27 PM
3522 posts
Dec 15, 2017
6:33 PM
Really, Steven Tyler? That's worse than Mark 'Corky' Siegel. I went to one of his [Siegels] painful Symphony gigs out of curiosity. Should have heard the violins trying to shuffle while he blared away on harp and electric piano. This is kind of fun finding out who did and didn't make it.
Reasonably priced Reed Replacement and tech support on Hand Made Series Hohner Diatonic Harmonicas.

'Making the world a better place, one harmonica at a time.
Click MP for more info. Aloha Mark
140 posts
Dec 15, 2017
6:51 PM
Yeah Bob Dylan and Steven Tyler LOL! That is very funny! Ronnie Shellist should be on that list and i haven't heard anyone mention him. Plays rings round a lot of them on that list.
318 posts
Dec 15, 2017
8:38 PM
Where the hell is WILLIAM CLARKE ???
ted burke
610 posts
Dec 15, 2017
8:40 PM
No Sam,Hinton? Shame.
2370 posts
Dec 15, 2017
9:33 PM
Well you can add people--I added Bill Barrett, and he has moved up from #54 to #27--but you do have to log in.
Thievin' Heathen
940 posts
Dec 16, 2017
1:18 PM
Re: I see Sir Mick Jagger made the list

Yes, but I'll always remember him best as Camilla's tampon on SNL.
85 posts
Dec 18, 2017
6:40 PM
I'm focusing more on chroms now over diatonics, so I was glad to see old Toots in the list, along with Gregoire Maret, Larry Adler, & Willi Burger. But I didn't see Filip Jerrs. However on the diatonic side, most of the contestants make the grade. But really. Who compiled the list and didn't mention Neil Young? To me, he could run circles on a few in the list.

Last Edited by hot4blues on Dec 18, 2017 6:45 PM
151 posts
Dec 19, 2017
3:23 AM
Modern BLUES harmonica,And half the harp players in this, aren't blues players.Instead of best it should be "my favorites"Ihear a big difference between Little Walter and Larry Adler, both great, but LA, is not a blues harp man.....
2381 posts
Dec 19, 2017
9:45 AM
I'm not sure how to view Adam's list, my view seems to be generated automatically when I click the link he provided.
I'm not really interested in arguing about who is the best, just in knowing who some of the really good players are.
Captcha is kukvhf
6389 posts
Dec 19, 2017
4:46 PM
Any list that has Adam Gussow--moi--ranked above Stevie Wonder isn't a club that I want to be a member of.

Beyond the Crossroads: The Devil and the Blues Tradition
6390 posts
Dec 19, 2017
4:49 PM
I was looking at Nacoran's old list. Now I'm ranked above....too many great players to count. Um, no. I don't think so. Crowd-sourcing shows its limits.

Beyond the Crossroads: The Devil and the Blues Tradition
35 posts
Dec 19, 2017
8:06 PM
When someone posts a list like this in my view it's a reflection on how much someone has enjoyed the work of the particular artists and is a way into understanding the taste of the individual making the post. To call the list tedious and pointless is in itself pointless if other people find the list interesting. Sometimes what is posted with a view to entertain, should be viewed this way, if only some ppl took the time to think, instead of the critical know it all that exit everywhere... Here here I hear you say!!!
89 posts
Dec 19, 2017
9:47 PM
What? No George Harmonica Smith? He could play rings around several on the list.
1759 posts
Dec 21, 2017
4:50 AM
During these various threads about influence and ranking I haven't been able to prevent myself from thinking about the fact that in the year 2,000(?) Robbie Williams was voted the most influential musician of the millennium. Bear that in mind.

Do you think anyone is shaping up yet to become the most influential musician of the third millennium? How about Cruz Beckham?


Last Edited by Andrew on Dec 21, 2017 4:52 AM
3049 posts
Dec 24, 2017
6:20 PM
george smith is on my top 10

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