The other night I hired Cadillac Records which, whilst not my first introduction to the musicians of Chess Records (I watched a series a couple of years back on the history of soul music in America), was my first introduction to Little Walter. I still don't know very much about him, except for what was portrayed in the film, but I do know one thing: I am obsessed with the song My Babe, which was written by Willie Dixon. It was released in 1955 on Checker records, which was a subsidiary of Chess records, and was the only Dixon-penned tune to become a #1 R&B single. You can read a little bit more about the song here.
Little Walter was inducted into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame in 2008 which, apparently, makes him the only artist to have been inducted specifically for his work as a harmonica player. He was one of the first to amplify his harmonica, reportedly because he was frustrated by being drowned out by guitars, not only for the added volume but he purposefully pushed his amplifiers beyond their limitations which was pretty much the first time anyone had experimented with distortion, so I believe. As I mentioned, I know very little about him at the moment, but I have listened to that song 23 times in a row!
I also have to add that I found Columbus Short rather attractive (a bit of an understatement, actually) playing Little Walter in the film, especially when he was singing this song. Good golly! (Before you watch the clip, I will warn that there is a little bit of swearing, as it contains other bits of the film as well as the song, so if that kind of language offends you...don't watch it)
I highly recommend Cadillac Records - it's a gorgeous film and a nice introduction for someone like me who doesn't know a lot about Chess records and its musicians. Plus, there are loads of great costumes and very well dressed (and handsome) fellas!
Little Walter Biography Site.
Andi B. Goode