Born: April 12, 1921 | Died: March 2, 1990 Primary Instrument: Harmonica
Shaky Jake Harris - Blues harmonica
A colorful harmonica player associated with his nephew Blues guitarist Magic Sam, he became a fixture on Chicago’s Southside during the areas heyday of the ‘60’s.
James Harris was born in Earle, Arkansas on April 12, 1921, but by age seven had moved to Chicago. Harris began playing in Chicago blues bands during the late 40s. His 1958 single Call Me If You Need Me/Roll Your Moneymaker, recorded for the Artistic subsidiary of Cobra Records, featured guitar work by his nephew Magic Sam, which started an enduring relationship.
He did a date with jazz organist Jack McDuff in 1960 “Good Times” for Bluesville, but decided to stick to the Blues after that with “Mouth Harp Blues,” (’62) also for Bluesville, which is considered his best effort.
During the 60s he stayed around Chicago and gigged steadily with Magic Sam. His encouragement of younger musicians brought about the recording debut of, among others, Luther Allison, with whom Jake recorded after moving to Los Angeles.
In later years, occasional recordings appeared, including some on his own label, and Harris ran a blues club for a while, but was dogged by poor health, and decided to go back to Arkansas where he died on March 2, 1990.