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One of the foremost electric blues harpists of the modern era, Sugar Blue was born James Whiting in New York City in 1950. The son of a singer/dancer who regularly performed at the legendary Apollo Theater, he was given his first harmonica at the age of ten, and by his mid-teens had already performed in the company of Muddy Waters; in the early 1970s he made his first recordings, sitting in on sessions by the likes of Johnny Shines and Louisiana Red. Sugar Blue relocated to Paris in 1976, where he was introduced to the Rolling Stones; he went on to play on the group's LPs Some Girls, Emotional Rescue and Tattoo You, lending his skills to such hits as "Miss You." He also played on jazz dates for Stan Getz and Paul Horn, and in 1979 cut the solo effort Crossroads. Upon returning to the U.S. in the mid-1980s, Sugar Blue settled in Chicago; after signing to Alligator, he cut Blue Blazes in 1994, followed a year later by In Your Eyes.
Sugar Blue (born James Whiting, December 16, 1949, Harlem, New York, United States) is an American Grammy Award winning blues musician, who plays the harmonica. He is probably best known for playing on The Rolling Stones' single, "Miss You".
An article in the Chicago Tribune stated: "The sound of Sugar Blue's harmonica could pierce any night... it's the sound of a musician who transcends the supposed limitations of his instrument."
In the mid 1970s, Blue played as a session musician on Johnny Shines' Too Wet to Plow (1975) and with Roosevelt Sykes. Whilst in the company of the latter, Blue met Louisiana Red and the twosome toured and recorded in 1978.
Taking advice from Memphis Slim, in the late 1970s Blue traveled to Paris, France. This led to him playing on several The Rolling Stones tracks ("Some Girls", "Send It to Me" and the aforementioned "Miss You"). Trombonist Mike Zwerin backed Blue on his solo debut album, Crossroads (1979). Following the release of his From Chicago to Paris (1982), Blue joined Willie Dixon's Chicago Blues All Stars. In 1984, Blue's track "Another Man Done Gone", appeared on the compilation album, Blues Explosion. It won a Grammy in 1984 for Best Traditional Blues Album.
Blue appeared with Brownie McGhee in the film, Angel Heart (1987). Blue's next album Blue Blazes was released in 1994. It was followed by In Your Eyes (1995), and Code Blue released in 2007.
On January 26, 2010, Beeble Music released Threshold, Blue's latest album.