Sugar Blue

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Sugar Blue
Blue at the Lucerna Music Bar, Prague, 1988
Blue at the Lucerna Music Bar, Prague, 1988
Background information
Birth nameJames Joshua Whiting
Also known asJimmie Whiting
Born (1949-12-16) December 16, 1949 (age 72)
Harlem, New York City, United States[1]
Occupation(s)Harmonicist, singer, songwriter
Instrument(s)Harmonica, vocals
Years activeLate 1960s–present
WebsiteOfficial website

Sugar Blue (born James Joshua "Jimmie" Whiting, December 16, 1949, Harlem, New York City)[2][1] is an American blues harmonica player.[3] He is probably best known for playing on the Rolling Stones' single "Miss You", and in partnering Louisiana Red.

The Chicago Tribune said, "The sound of Sugar Blue's harmonica could pierce any night... it's the sound of a musician who transcends the supposed limitations of his instrument."[4]


In the mid-1970s, Blue played as a session musician on Johnny Shines's Too Wet to Plow (1975) and with Roosevelt Sykes. While in the company of the latter, he met Louisiana Red, and the two toured and recorded in 1978.[5]

Taking advice from Memphis Slim, in the late 1970s Blue traveled to Paris, France. According to Ronnie Wood, Blue was found by Mick Jagger busking on the city streets.[6] This led to him playing on several of the tracks on The Rolling Stones' Some Girls and Emotional Rescue albums: "Some Girls", "Send It to Me", "Down in the Hole" and "Miss You".

Trombonist Mike Zwerin backed Blue on his solo debut album, Crossroads (1979). Following the release of his From Chicago to Paris (1982), Blue joined Willie Dixon's Chicago Blues All Stars.[5] In 1984, Blue's track "Another Man Done Gone", appeared on the compilation album Blues Explosion. It won a Grammy in 1985 for Best Traditional Blues Album.[7]

Blue appeared with Brownie McGhee in the film Angel Heart (1987).

Sugar Blue joined as a side musician recording with Willie Dixon on the Grammy Award winning album, Hidden Charms (1988).[8]

His next album, Blue Blazes, was released in 1994 and it included his version of "Miss You".[5] It was followed by In Your Eyes (1995) and Code Blue (2007).[9]

He played on the album Down Too Long, by Southside Denny and the Skintones, in 1988.[10] Sugar Blue's next album, Threshold, was released by Beeble Music on January 26, 2010.[11]

Writing in the Chicago Tribune, music critic Howard Reich said, "There's no mistaking Sugar Blue incendiary virtuosity. The speed and ferocity of his playing are matched by its inventiveness, with Blue packing nearly every phrase with trills, glissandos, clusters and chords. At times, it sounds as if two harps were working at once... intense, melodically ornate, punctuated by growls and swooping pitches, it's the sound of a musician who transcends the limitations of his instrument."[4]



Year Title Label Number Notes
1978 Red, Funk and Blue Black Panther BP1001 Duo with Louisiana Red
1979 King Bee JSP Duo with Louisiana Red
1980 Crossroads Blue Silver BS 3004 France, recorded 1979
1982 From Chicago to Paris Blue Silver BS 3012/3332 France, recorded 1980 with Slim Pezin, Earl Howell
1984 High Voltage Blues JSP 1081 with Louisiana Red
1988 Hidden Charms Capitol Records As sideman with Willie Dixon
1991 Absolutely Blue Seven Seas/King KICP 341 Japan, recorded 1982
1994 Blue Blazes Alligator 4819
1995 In Your Eyes Alligator 4831
2006 Right Now Kozel Switzerland, George Kay Band featuring Sugar Blue
2007 Code Blue Beeble 801
2010 Threshold Beeble 802
2012 Raw Sugar - Live Beeble 803
2016 Voyage M.C. Records MC 0079


Compilations and reissues[edit]

Year Title Label Number Notes
1979 Stars of the Streets Whale Productions / Egg Records (France) Egg 900582 Compilation Performances of several street musicians were recorded live outdoors in the streets and parks of New York City. Track 1 : "Pontiac Blues" by Sugar Blue
1980 Jazz Gala '80 Kingdom Jazz Gate 7010 Recorded at the Palm Beach Casino, Cannes, France
1984 Blues Explosion Atlantic 80149 Grammy winner, recorded live at Montreux
1992 From Paris to Chicago EPM Blues Collection 756 Reissue of Crossroads and From Chicago to Paris
1998 The Blues Spectrum of Louisiana Red JSP UK recording
2007 Another Man Done Gone WNTS/Believe Digital MP3 download Reissue of Crossroads and From Chicago to Paris


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Calendar/December 16". / Big Bands Database Plus. January 10, 2008. Retrieved January 19, 2010.
  2. ^ Eagle, Bob; LeBlanc, Eric S. (2013). Blues - A Regional Experience. Santa Barbara: Praeger Publishers. p. 262. ISBN 978-0313344237.
  3. ^ Diana Olson (March 19, 2008). "Sugar Blue". Skope Entertainment Inc. Retrieved January 22, 2010.
  4. ^ a b "Sugar Blue, Blues, Harmonica". Retrieved January 29, 2014.
  5. ^ a b c Russell, Tony (1997). The Blues: From Robert Johnson to Robert Cray. Dubai: Carlton Books. p. 170. ISBN 1-85868-255-X.
  6. ^ Wood, Ronnie (August 13, 2013). "Ronnie Wood talks about Sugar Blue and the harmonica". YouTube. Archived from the original on December 20, 2021. Retrieved September 3, 2016.
  7. ^ "Blues Grammy award winners by year". Retrieved January 29, 2014.
  8. ^ Steve Shorter (2015). Roots to Rock: Part 2 - Blues. ISBN 978-1468954456. Dixon was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 1980 and won a Grammy Award in 1989 for his album, Hidden Charms.
  9. ^ a b "Sugar Blue | Discography". AllMusic. December 16, 1949. Retrieved January 29, 2014.
  10. ^ "Southside Denny And The Skintones – Down Too Long". Retrieved October 8, 2015.
  11. ^ "Sugar Blue CD Preview". October 30, 2009. Retrieved January 29, 2014.
  12. ^ "Absolutely Blue". Retrieved January 22, 2010.
  13. ^ G.Heinlein & François Ziegler (March 2004). "EPM Records Checklist". Retrieved January 22, 2010.
  14. ^ "Blues Explosion – Various Artists | Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved January 29, 2014.

External links[edit]