John Hammond Jr.

On this day in 1943, John Hammond Jr. was born in New York City. Hammond, whose

father, John Hammond Sr., was the Columbia talent scout who helped along the careers

of such giants as Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen, is a guitarist and harmonica player

whose music keeps alive classic blues.

Hammond's parents split when he was young, and he only saw his father a few times a

year. He became interested in the slide guitar while in high school and idolized

bluesman Jimmy Reed.

Antioch College in Ohio was Hammond's next step, but he stayed for only one year,

leaving to become a professional blues musician. He started playing country blues in

coffeehouses and, while in New York City, was instrumental in getting Jimi Hendrix

discovered by helping the ace guitarist form a band and get gigs.

"The next time I saw him, about a year later, he was a big star in Europe," Hammond

recollected in 1990. During the rest of the '60s and '70s, Hammond played electric blues

and cut tracks with Robbie Robertson, Duane Allman and Michael Bloomfield.

Hammond has released dozens of albums. Some of the best are: his eponymous debut

(1962), which includes such classics as "See That My Grave Is Kept Clean" and

"Crossroads Blues"; I Can Tell (1967), recorded with Rolling Stone Bill Wyman;

Trouble No More (1994), produced by John Cale; and Found True Love


Hammond, who now lives in New Jersey, has been instrumental in keeping old blues

songs from being forgotten. He's earned a stellar live reputation among blues

aficionados by frequently touring North America and Europe. After listening to

Hammond, many people often begin to explore the works of earlier blues-masters, such

as Robert Johnson.

This year, Hammond issued Long As I Have You on EMD/Virgin, which includes

such cuts as Sonny Boy Williamson's "Don't Start Me Talkin'."

Other birthdays: Andrew Ranken (Pogues), 45.