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If highly distorted guitar played with a ton of aggression and just barely suppressed violence is your idea of great blues, then Pat Hare's your man. Born with the improbable name of Auburn Hare (one of those biographical oddities that even the most fanciful blues historian couldn't make up in a million years), he worked the '50s Memphis circuit, establishing his rep as a top-notch player with a scorching tone only rivaled by Howlin' Wolf's guitarist, Willie Johnson. Our first recorded glimpse of him occurs when he showed up at Sam Phillips' Memphis Recording Service sometime in 1953 to play on James Cotton's debut session for the Sun label. His aggressive, biting guitar work on both sides of that oft-anthologized single -- "Cotton Crop Blues" and "Hold Me in Your Arms" -- featured a guitar sound so overdriven that with the historical distance of several decades, it now sounds like a direct line to the coarse, distorted tones favored by modern rock players. But what is now easily attainable by 16-year-old kids on modern-day effects pedals just by stomping on a switch, Hare was accomplishing with his fingers and turning the volume knob on his Sears & Roebuck cereal-box-sized amp all the way to the right until the speaker was screaming.

After working with Cotton and numerous others around the Memphis area, Hare moved North to Chicago and by the late '50s was a regular member of the Muddy Waters band, appearing on the legendary Live at Newport, 1960 album. By all accounts Pat was a quiet, introspective man when sober, but once he started drinking the emotional tables turned in the opposite direction. After moving to Minneapolis in the '60s to work with fellow Waters bandmate Mojo Bruford, Hare was convicted of murder after a domestic dispute, spending the rest of his life behind bars. In one of the great ironies of the blues, one of the unissued tracks Pat Hare left behind in the Sun vaults was an original composition entitled, "I'm Gonna Murder My Baby." ~ Cub Koda, Rovi