Having Fun In The Studio With Little Walter

Playing Maxwell Street with Supro guitar.

Put your right leg up, I don’t think he’s doing the hokey-pokey.

If you sit on a guitar long enough, another one will hatch.
A big smile for the crowd.
As seen from a landing flying saucer.
Color outtake from first album cover.
This one shrunk when I put it in the dryer.
I love Little Walter. I have listened to his records constantly since buying that old All Platinum/Chess double LP for $1.99 when I was fourteen. His records still sound almost futuristic to me. Little Walter’s blues was not that of the cotton patch, but an urbane, yet still raw sound. There’s little I can tell you about Marion Walter Jacobs (born May 1, 1930, died Feb. 15 1968) that you won’t find in the definitive biography of the man– Blues With A Feeling: The Little Walter Story by Tony Glover, Scott Dirks and Ward Gaines (Routledge, 2002), a must read for any blues fan.
However, since a friend sent these incredible images ( the top five by Ray Flerlage, the next two down were taken by the late Don Bronstein who did all the Chess album covers and many Playboy Playmates as well as the book Chicago, I Will, the tiny one by Sam Charters), I thought I’d run them along with some funny in-session outtakes. As any reader of this blog knows I love profanity, and these are lots of fun to listen to thanks to the foul mouths of Little Walter and Leonard Chess (that’s Chess introducing “Blue and Lonesome by Little Motherfuckin’ Walter”). I’m pretty sure these are all out of print, most of them appeared on a series of bootlegs that appeared in the late 70’s on the Leroi De Blues label and later some showed up on a Japanese P-Vine double album, those LP’s are all long out of print.
Here’s an alternate take of Walter’s first hit Juke, two alternate takes of Temperature (take 30 takes 35-36), an alternate of Rock Bottom, Everthing’s Going To Be Alright take 1, and another alternate, Mean Old Frisco (take 1), Blue and Lonesome (take 1), and just for fun I thought I’d throw in Roller Coaster, not an alternate, but if you haven’t heard Little Walter with Bo Diddley on guitar, you really need to.
BTW: On my post concerning Little Walter’s pre-Checker sides (here), the links are down for the moment, you should probably just go out and buy Delmark‘s The Blues World Of Little Walter which contains all of the Little Walter and Baby Face Leroy recordings, as Barry Stoltz said in the comments section the Parkway waxing of Rollin’ & Tumblin’ pts.1 & 2 is easily one of the ten best blues records of the 20th Century.

17 thoughts on “Having Fun In The Studio With Little Walter”

  1. Those photos are something else along with them studio outakes. Just beautiful! I worship Little Walter! I've got both of the Herald 45's which although credited to Walter are actually early 50's reissues of the Parkway 78's which are in reality the Baby Face Leroy trio with Walter, Muddy Waters and Leroy. Their version of Rollin and Tumbling which predates the Muddy Aristocrat version has got to be one of the top 5 post war blues records of all time. You can get all the trio sides on a Delmark LP (and CD I believe) that's called The Blues World of Little Walter. Essential! -Barry Soltz

  2. “Their version of Rollin and Tumbling which predates the Muddy Aristocrat version has got to be one of the top 5 post war blues records of all time. “I wrote about Walter's pre-Checker output last year, unfortunately the links are down for now….I love the ones he plays guitar on…

  3. A clarification: the top five B&W photos above are all by the late great Ray Flerlage; the two color shots are by Don Bronstein; the little B&W shot at the bottom is (I believe) by Sam Charters.

  4. Love the captions. I think some attention should be paid to Walter's awesome facial scars, a testament to his scrappy nature and home stitching. I also think, in his early Chess sides, Louis Myers offers some of the most creative, empathetic guitar backing ever. Love it! And while we're on guitar, Walter was pretty cool and distinctive himself. Do you know if that's him playing on Muskadine? I always thought it was, but lately I'm doubting….

  5. I don't know what more could be said about Little Walter. I was privileged to know Scott Dirks back in the old *Prodigy Blues Bulletin Board and that cat KNOWS his stuff!

  6. I understand there is also a great exchange with Leonard Chess where Walter is complaining that Ahmad Jamal is the only *&$% that can get a hit out of the studio! Would love to find that audio ….


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