Golden 'Big' Wheeler

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Golden 'Big' WheelerGolden 'Big' Wheeler (December 15, 1929 July 20, 1998) was an American Chicago blues and electric blues singer, harmonicist and songwriter. He released two albums in his lifetime, and is best known for his recordings of the songs 'Damn Good Mojo' and 'Bone Orchard'. He worked with the Ice Cream Men and Jimmy Johnson, and was the brother of fellow blues musician, James Wheeler.

Biography

He was born Golden Wheeler in Baconton, Georgia. Wheeler left Georgia in 1941 and settled in Chicago, Illinois, in July 1954, where he befriended Little Walter. His enthusiasm for playing the harmonica began when he was working as a taxicab driver. One of his regular customers was the harmonica player Buster Brown, who later went on to have a hit record with 'Fannie Mae' in 1960. Wheeler fronted his own band by 1956, although he was a part-time musician, having to work for years as a auto mechanic to help raise his family.

In 1993, Wheeler released his first album, Bone Orchard, where he was backed by a local outfit, the Ice Cream Men. Released by Delmark Records (Delmark 661), it recreated a 1950s feel with a double guitar and drum backing, with no bass guitar. The Ice Cream Men comprised Johnny Burgin and Dave Waldman (guitars), plus Steve Cushing (drums). The album was produced by Robert G. Koester.

His next issue was Jump In (1997), where his backing included a fuller sound incorporating his brother, James Wheeler, on guitar. As well as the Wheeler brothers, other musicians utilised on the album were Baldhead Pete (drums), Allen Batts (piano) and Bob Stroger (bass), with Koester again producing the overall set.

Golden 'Big' Wheeler died of heart failure in Chicago in July 1998, at the age of 68.

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