Don "Sugarcane" Harris

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Don "Sugarcane" Harris
Birth nameDon Francis Bowman Harris
Born(1938-06-18)June 18, 1938
Pasadena, California, United States
DiedNovember 30, 1999(1999-11-30) (aged 61)
Los Angeles, California, United States
GenresRock and roll, R&B, jazz fusion
InstrumentsVocals, electric violin, violin, guitar, organ
Years active1960s - 1999
Associated actsDon and Dewey, Tupelo Chain Sex, Frank Zappa, Johnny Otis, John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers, Pure Food and Drug Act

Don Francis Bowman "Sugarcane" Harris (June 18, 1938[1] – November 30, 1999) was an American rock and roll violinist and guitarist.


Don & Dewey[edit]

Harris was born and raised in Pasadena, California, and started an act called Don and Dewey with his childhood friend Dewey Terry in the mid 1950s. Although they were recorded by Art Rupe on his Specialty label, mostly utilizing the services of legendary drummer Earl Palmer, Don and Dewey didn't have any hits. However, Harris and Terry co-wrote such early rock and roll classics as "Farmer John", "Justine", "I'm Leaving It Up to You", and "Big Boy Pete," all of which became hits for other artists.

Harris was given the nickname "Sugarcane" by bandleader Johnny Otis, and it remained with him throughout his life.

Frank Zappa and John Mayall's Bluesbreakers[edit]

After separating from Dewey Terry in the 1960s, Harris moved almost exclusively over to the electric violin. He reappeared as a sideman with John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers and Frank Zappa, most recognized for his appearances on Hot Rats, and on the Mothers of Invention albums Burnt Weeny Sandwich and Weasels Ripped My Flesh. His lead vocal and blues violin solo on a cover of Little Richard's "Directly From My Heart to You" on Weasels, and his extended solo on the lengthy "Little House I Used To Live In" on Weeny are considered highlights of those albums. Reportedly, he was rescued from a jail term by Zappa. Zappa had long admired Harris's playing and bailed him out of prison, resurrecting his career and ushering in a long period of creativity for the forgotten violin virtuoso. He played a couple of live concerts with Zappa's band in 1970[2].

Pure Food & Drug Act[edit]

During the early 1970s, Sugarcane fronted the Pure Food and Drug Act, which included drummer Paul Lagos, guitarists Harvey Mandel and Randy Resnick, and bassist Victor Conte, who later was the founder of the Bay Area Laboratory Co-operative (BALCO). Conte replaced Larry Taylor, who was the original bass player. His first solo album (with back cover art by underground poster artist Rick Griffin) is a forgotten masterpiece of blues, jazz, classical and funk compositions, and his 1973 live album Sugarcane's Got The Blues, recorded at the Berlin Jazz Festival, show an accomplished musician at the top of his game.[citation needed]

In the 1980s, Sugarcane was a member of the Los Angeles-based experimental rock band Tupelo Chain Sex.

Harris died on November 27, 1999 in Los Angeles, California.[3]


  • Don „Sugarcane“ Harris – 1970
  • Keep On Driving – 1971
  • Fiddler On The Rock – 1971
  • Choice Cuts – 1972
  • Sugar Cane’s Got The Blues – 1973
  • Keyzop – 1973
  • Cup Full Of Dreams – 1974
  • I’m On Your Case – 1974
  • Key Stop – 1975
  • Flashin' Time – 1976
  • Anthology Volume One – 2001
  • Cup Full Of Dreams CD – 2011



  1. ^ Family Tree Legends
  2. ^
  3. ^ Pareles, Jon (December 10, 1999). "Don Harris, 61, A Versatile Master Of Rhythm and Blues (obituary)". New York Times. pp. C19. Retrieved 24 February 2010.

External links[edit]