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Kim Wilson

Harmonica player, songwriter, and singer Kim Wilson is as much a student and historian of classic blues as he is one of the U.S.'s top harmonica players. Simply put, Wilson has taste; when he enters the recording studio, he has a clear vision of what he wants his next record to sound like. Aside from all this, he's also an extremely hard worker and a major road hog, spending upwards of 200 nights a year on the road, playing festivals and clubs throughout the U.S., Canada, and Europe with his own Kim Wilson band and leading the Fabulous Thunderbirds.

Although he's long been known as the charismatic frontman for the Fabulous Thunderbirds, Wilson's solo albums -- which feature bands of his own choosing for different tracks -- is where the genius in his work shows through most clearly. Born January 6, 1951 in Detroit, Michigan, Wilson grew up in California. His parents were singers who would sing popular standards on the radio, and while Wilson took trombone and guitar lessons, he didn't discover blues until he was a senior in high school. Wilson's father later worked for General Motors and raised his family in Goleta, California. Wilson dropped out of college and began playing blues full-time in 1970. He had a rented room and lived the hippie existence, getting his harmonica chops together by playing with traveling blues musicians like Eddie Taylor. Even though Wilson had only switched to harmonica in his senior year in high school, his progress on the instrument was rapid and every bit as all-consuming as his blues record-buying habit. Charlie Musselwhite, John Lee Hooker, and Sonny Rhodes were among the other Bay Area musicians Wilson befriended and worked with in clubs. But Wilson didn't meet his biggest mentor until after he moved to Austin in the mid-'70s.

"Muddy Waters was my biggest mentor. He really made my reputation for me, and that was a fantastic time of my life, being associated with that man," he recalled of his early days with the Fabulous Thunderbirds in Austin. There, at Antone's blues nightclub, Wilson and his Thunderbirds would back up whoever came into town, and it didn't take long for the band to earn Waters' blessing.

As a songwriter, Wilson takes his cue from the long-forgotten names like Tampa Red, Roosevelt Sykes, and Lonnie Johnson. His 1993 solo album, Tigerman, for the Austin-based Antone's label, features just three of his own tunes. Being the student of the blues that he is, Wilson was understandably hesitant to record too many of his own tunes when he'd already had a vision in his head of how he was going to rework classics like Joe Hill Louis' "Tiger Man," the album's title track. He followed up his debut with the equally brilliant That's Life (1994), also for Antone's, and again this recording contains just three self-penned songs. Wilson's career took a boost in the '90s with a major-label deal with Private Music/BMG for the Fabulous Thunderbirds and frequent concert appearances with Bonnie Raitt. Wilson's solo albums are solid productions, highly recommended for harmonica students and fans of classic Texas blues and rhythm & blues. ~ Richard Skelly, Rovi
full bio

Comments

What great player and performer. A veteran of the blues yet a student of the genre as well
Yes sir, It certainly is Mr. Wilson
awesome
very good
awesome
lol
Kim, your are really one of the greatest blues harp players ever. Come to Ohio soon.
Currently at the top of the traditional blues harp game. Great tone, with all of the classic riffs and turn-arounds mastered.
Im still learnin to play the harp and its pretty tuff but not givin up.
Bad A** Harpman!
Just Another Guy i do
Don't Ya Just Love the Harp?
THIS DUDE IS TIGHT/COME UP TO OHIO
very good
The man is genius
Sounds great to me I wonder haow many hours he has spent learning how to play like this. Lots I bet.
Kim's as good as he thinks as he is!
sazajac
shivers
saint louis blues harmonica version?
I like it....a lot
ndelreal9
Not only is Kim a friend...He' s one of those cats that gets it from top to bottom...... . I have learned a ton from him....Littl e Barry G.....Grease F i r e BAND.......
tslavinl21
Lots of Junior Wells in his voice, great harp!
obeyzag! Nighthawks used to rock DC& Arl.Va, everynight in early 70's. sorta remember&
Kim and James Cotton rule still!!! Kim is always changing!!! Nobody close to him that I've heard!!!
!st saw kim & the T-Birds rip it up @ Rockefellers in H-town. great times.
obeyzag
Kim iz great but don't forget Mark Wenner and the Nighthawks
bfriedman37
The Fabulous Thunderbirds were such a great band. You could them anywhere in Austin when Kim was at the helm--let's not forget about master Jimmy!! Gruene Hall is a nice venue, truly historic. But when you could see them at Antones, with Clifford hanging out, why go so far out of town? THOSE WERE THE DAYS KIDDIEs!!!
the best on the harp ever
Soul!-harp rightious blues all the way---
This guy is really good.
jrsowash4
I saw Kim and the Thunderbirds at Gruene Hall in Gruene Texas. It is the oldest dance hall in Texas circa 1869. What a treat. He is simply amazing harp player. If you get the opportunity to see him, go damnit you will be sorry if you don't.
boogiespeed
an' a damn good singer to boot...

Boogie down!
shawn_flecke n
I think Kim Wilson is the best harp player out there. I got to see him at the Rhythm Room in Phoenix this year, and he just killed it. Smokin' Joint is currently my favorite blues album.
Love dis guy!!! And the Thunderbirds are smokkkkkkkki n g hot! Wish they would do more!Saw him on public TV with ,Delbert,Joh n Mayer,James Cotton? and a bunch of others. It was great 3 Harmonica players!
affajbar
k w is da man
Awesome blues artist & harmonica player
Excellent harp player, luv the style.

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