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.