The harmonica can be considered one of those cool musical instruments that has long been a part of the landscape of many genres of music. However, we sometimes let the image of the harmonica fade into the background and not give it – or harmonica players — their proper due. This is unfortunate because great harmonica players deserve their share of credit.
A few popular harmonica players can actually be considered legendary figures in the world of pop and rock. Probably the most well known would be Billy Joel as he played the harmonica is scores of his top songs with Piano Man being the most well known. Billy Joel is not the only legendary harmonica player in the music world. There are quite a number of other truly brilliant players that should be mentioned.
Brendan Power can be considered the most well known artist that is exclusively famous for his harmonica playing. He is based out of New Zealand and he tours the world playing his popular harmonica song favorites. You might consider his success atypical to say the least since so few people these days are popular for their harmonica talents.
At one time, that was not the case. The blues world was known for its amazing collection of legendary harmonica players that would use the “mini organ” as a means of creating incredibly memorable compositions during equally memorable performances. Slim Harpo, Taylor Hicks, and Paul DeLay were among the most famous of the blues harmonicists.
The country and blue grass world probably would be just as famous as the blues genre when it came to presenting people with skills with the harmonica. Many legendary blue grass songs feature the harmonica. Mike Stevens would probably be the most famous of the blue grass musicians that played the harmonica.
The world of folk probably borrowed the idea of using the harmonica from the realm of blues. Regardless of the origins of the inspiration, it is a good thing so many were inspired since it led to a great many memorable songs and performances. Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan, and Bobby Darring would be among the names people think of the most when the words folk and harmonica are brought up together.
And yes, the world of rock has some truly diverse people that enjoy using the harmonica as part of their performances. Diverse is not a word used lightly since we see such a wide range of different genres reflected by artists ranging from Bono to Alice Cooper to David Bowie.
As you can see, the harmonica plays a huge role in many different genres of music. It presence will likely continue to be a part of the music landscape for many more decades to come.