Little Arthur Duncan

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Little Arthur Duncan
Birth name Arthur Duncan[1]
Born (1934-02-05)February 5, 1934
Indianola, Mississippi, United States
Died August 20, 2008(2008-08-20) (aged 74)
Northlake, Illinois, United States
Genres Chicago blues, electric blues[2]
Occupation(s) Harmonicist, singer, songwriter
Instruments Harmonica, vocals
Years active 1950–2008
Labels Blues King, Delmark, Random Chance

Little Arthur Duncan (February 5, 1934 – August 20, 2008) was an American Chicago blues and electric blues harmonica player, singer, and songwriter. He was a member of the Backscratchers, and over his working lifetime associated with Earl Hooker, Twist Turner, Illinois Slim and Rick Kreher.[3]


Duncan was born in Indianola, Mississippi, United States,[2] and initially learned to play the drums.[4] In 1950, aged 16, he moved to Chicago, Illinois, and made acquaintance with both Little Walter, who helped Duncan to learn the rudiments of harmonica playing, and Jimmy Reed. He found work playing his harmonica by accompanying Earl Hooker, John Brim and Floyd Jones.[2][4] Billed and henceforth commonly known as 'Little Arthur Duncan', he played primarily in and around Chicago, and built up a local reputation over the years. He appeared with his own band in the Backscratcher's Social Club, which he also owned.[2] Duncan worked in construction during the 1960s and 1970s, so was restricted to playing and singing in the evenings.[4]

In 1989, Duncan recorded the album Bad Reputation, which was released on the Blues King record label.[2][4] He later appeared on a compilation album, Blues Across America: The Chicago Scene, alongside Detroit Junior.[2] In 1999, Duncan recorded for Delmark, who released Singin' with the Sun that year.[2] On the album he was accompanied by the guitar player Billy Flynn.[5] Live in Chicago followed in 2000.[1]

His final recording was Live at Rosa's Blues Lounge, which was a live album recorded in Chicago in August 2007. One music journalist noted "...spirited, gritty performances of Reed's "Pretty Thing," Wolf's "No Place to Go," and two Dixon favorites ("Young Fashioned Ways" and "Little Red Rooster") leave no doubt that Duncan lives and breathes electric Chicago blues."[6] However, a subsequent lengthy illness and hospitalization meant that Duncan could not build on his success.[1]

Duncan died in Northlake, Illinois, in August 2008, from complications following brain surgery. He was aged 74.[3]



Year Title Record label
1989 Bad Reputation Blues King Records
1999 Singin' with the Sun Delmark Records
2000 Live in Chicago Random Chance Records
2007 Live at Rosa's Blues Lounge Delmark Records


Compilation albums[edit]

Year Title Record label Notes
1998 Blues Across America: The Chicago Scene Cannonball Records with Duncan, Detroit Junior, Mark Hummel, and Robert Plunkett
2002 Harmonica Blues Orgy Delmark Records with Duncan, Willie "Big Eyes" Smith, Martin Lang, and Easy Baby


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Reverend Keith A. Gordon (August 25, 2008). "Blues Artist Little Arthur Duncan, R.I.P.". Retrieved December 16, 2011. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Jason Ankeny. "Little Arthur Duncan". Allmusic. Retrieved December 16, 2011. 
  3. ^ a b - accessed December 16, 2011
  4. ^ a b c d Hanson, Karen (2007). Today's Chicago Blues (1st ed.). Chicago: Lake Claremont Press. p. 146. ISBN 978-1-893121-19-5. 
  5. ^ "Singin' with the Sun > Little Arthur Duncan > Credits". Allmusic. Retrieved December 16, 2011. 
  6. ^ "Live at Rosa's Blues Lounge > Little Arthur Duncan > Review". Allmusic. Retrieved December 16, 2011. 
  7. ^ "Little Arthur Duncan > Discography > Main Albums". Allmusic. Retrieved December 16, 2011. 
  8. ^ "Blues Across America: The Chicago Scene > Overview". Allmusic. Retrieved December 16, 2011. 
  9. ^ "Harmonica Blues Orgy > Overview". Allmusic. Retrieved December 16, 2011. 

External links[edit]