Bluesman James Harman may not have been a household name, but he was a big part of the LA blues scene and played with some of the very best in the business. John Kessler remembers James Harman.
Blues singer, songwriter and harmonica player James Harman died this year. We’ve been playing his music for decades on KNKX's All Blues program.
Born in Alabama, Harman became a full-time musician as a teen and found his way to the thriving Los Angeles blues scene of the 1970s and ;80s, where he cultivated what one writer said was the “one of the tightest bands anywhere.”
Harman’s LA band was an incubator for talent. Over the years, the group included Phil Alvin, who went on to form the Blasters; pianist Gene Taylor, and the Fabulous Thunderbirds guitarists Hollywood Fats and Kid Ramos.
Harman was a friend and frequent collaborator with Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top and played harmonica on several ZZ Top recordings, including “Heartache in Blue” from 2012.
What set James Harman apart from many of his contemporaries was the skill and wit of his songwriting. He became an expert composer of what he called “stories about the human condition told through blues songs.”
Harman was 74 when he died in May.