Smokestack Lightnin' Home Page -- The Blues Profile Page

Shows with Snooky Pryor in them

Snooky Pryor (September 15, 1921 October 18, 2006) was an American blues harp 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 his earliest records in the late 1940s he did not utilize this method.

James Edward Pryor was born in Lambert, Mississippi and developed a Delta blues style influenced by both Sonny Boy Williamson I and Sonny Boy Williamson II. He moved to Chicago around 1940.

While serving in the U.S. Army he would blow bugle calls through the powerful PA system, which led him to experiment with playing the harmonica that way. Upon discharge from the Army in 1945, he obtained his own amplifier, and introduced the sound to Maxwell Street audiences, becoming a regular in the Chicago Blues scene.

Pryor recorded some of the first postwar Chicago Blues records in 1948, including "Telephone Blues" and "Snooky & Moody's Boogie" with guitarist Moody Jones, and "Stockyard Blues" and "Keep What You Got" with singer/guitarist Floyd Jones. He moved south to Ullin, Illinois in 1967. He quit music for carpentry in the late 1960s but was persuaded to make a comeback. After he dropped out of sight, Pryor was later re-discovered and resumed periodic recording until his death in nearby Cape Girardeau, Missouri at the age of 85.

In January 1973 he appeared with the American Blues Legends tour which played throughout Europe, alongside Homesick James. Whilst on this tour they recorded an album in London, Homesick James & Snooky Pryor.

Some of his better known songs include "Judgement Day" (1956), and "Crazy 'Bout My Baby" from Snooky (1989), "How'd You Learn to Shake It Like That" from Tenth Anniversary Anthology (1989) and "Shake My Hand" (1999).