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#100 Willie Mae “Big Mama” Thornton

How would you rank

Willie Mae “Big Mama” Thornton?

  • HIGHER
  • APPROPRIATE
  • LOWER

Why Willie Mae “Big Mama” Thornton?

Willie Mae “Big Mama” Thornton (born in Alabama, December 11, 1926 – July 25, 1984) is considered one of the greatest female blues players on harmonica. She shared the stage with other harmonica greats like John Lee Hooker. She frequently used the harmonica in her stage shows and was well respected by the male-dominated blues legends. Her career was one of “almost made it” … but her songs are listed among those that define rock and roll. 

Comments (17)

  • Roger Snyder

    |

    I can’t believe that Jimmie Fadden from the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band didn’t make it. Another overlooked player is Mickey Rapheal from Willie Nelson’s band! They should both be, not only on the chart but towards the top!!! Especially Jimmie Fadden!!!

    Reply

  • Bob Lasar

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    No women? How about Michal Adler.

    And. I may have missed it in the thumbnails, but I did not see Lee Oscar.

    Otherwise, it is a pretty darned good selection and there is no reason to quibble over the rankings.

    Reply

    • JP Allen

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      Definitely not enough women, Michal Adler is an amazing chromatic harp player. We did manage to get Annie Raines and Big Mama Thorton on the list. Thanks for your input Bob. jp

      Reply

  • Lisa

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    You seem to be missing a few people that should be on there..Johnny Sansone….Steve Guyger and Sugar Ray Norcia..these 3 can blow the barn doors off of half those players on this list!

    Reply

    • mark kenneally

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      Steve needs to be #1 on the list just for being such a 1st class character. As far as the other two nnnnaaaah

      Reply

  • Richard Hunter

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    Nice to see myself on this list, how was the list derived? Let me note that some of the players I would have ranked at the top of the list were (sometimes much) farther back, and I am both honored and amazed to rank in front of players like Sonny Terry and Charlie Musselwhite. The latter remains an inspiration more than four decades after his recordings changed my life.

    Reply

  • Stephanie C.

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    What kind of list is this? Top 100 horner players? Seems a bit odd to leave off the great Lee Oskar – who is an innovator of the altered tuned harps and not to mention – no one can compete with his front stage playing. He can play a show for 3 – 4 hours with no-one singing or doing some song / dance show. I agree with many of the artists listed – but many of the top rated players are really strangely ranked low. It would be interesting to hear how the rankings and highlights were chosen….. Just wondering – but to leave Lee Oskar off the top 5! I think the whole thing was a waste of my time it took me to look through the whole thing. But I believe, unless your selling horner (which it looks like that from your site), that true teachers and promoters should be more unbiased in what they try and sell the public. If a site is not unconditional to ANY one brand (unless they are the manufacture of their own harps) – I really do not want to visit or recommend a site who is biased. I feel no one harp works for EVERYONE, and I say let the people decide for themselves or at least disclose that you are a horner supporter company. Sorry – don’t mean to be so blunt. I just don’t want to be sold to undercover…. hope you understand where I am coming from. No personal disrespect meant to you JP. Just sharing my thoughts for you to consider. All the best to you.

    Reply

    • JP Allen

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      No disrespect taken Stephanie. There were a lot of exceptional players that didn’t make it on this list. We’ll have to do a top 500 in the future. I do personally favor the Hohner Special 20, but always encourage people to go with the harp that feels right for them, we have always offered a variety of top harmonicas in our online store. Best, jp

      Reply

  • ROD STEPHAN

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    Thanks JP for all of your emails, they keep me trying and going. I don’t have any input on this list except I appreciate the effort on your part and being able to see and hear the greats .I’ve added to my harp collection a few world instruments; borhran,jaw harp, cajon, kalimba, and digeradoo. Just having fun.
    Rod
    PS: Keep up the great work.

    Reply

    • JP Allen

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      I’ve played around with all those instruments and loved it! Great choices. jp

      Reply

  • Liz

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    John Popper?! Love your site & vids thanks!! Xoxo, Liz

    Reply

    • JP Allen

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      Definitely! One of my influences. jp

      Reply

  • Michael Labriola

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    It Looks like a wonderful hall of fame of harp players to me. They should all be proud to be mentioned with the best.

    Reply

    • JP Allen

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      I agree. All of these hall of fame harp players blow me away.

      Reply

  • KIRK WIGGINS

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    what about canned heat’s al blind owl Wilson????????

    Reply

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