Delbert McClinton

Perhaps no artist to appear on Beale Street Caravan combines so many styles so seamlessly as if there were no distinctions between blues, soul and Rock and Roll. BSC caught up with the well traveled harmonica player, songwriter, performer, Delbert McClinton for a rollicking set at the Mississippi Valley Blues Festival in Davenport, Iowa. A formidable harmonica player long before he recorded as a singer, McClinton's career began in the late '50s, yet it took him nearly two decades to evolve into a bona fide solo artist. As a young man, McClinton had the opportunity to play harp behind blues legends like Howlin' Wolf, Jimmy Reed, Sonny Boy Williamson II, and Bobby "Blue" Bland. In 1960, McClinton's cover of Williamson's "Wake Up Baby" made him the first white artist to have a record played on the local blues station KNOK. Brought along as a sideman for another artist's tour of England, McClinton wound up giving harp lessons to a young John Lennon.