Blues singer Junior Parker was often referred to as “Little Junior Parker” or ” Mr. Blues.” Parker was from Clarksdale, Mississippi, and was known for his velvet-sounding voice and musical prowess. As a young boy, he sang in gospel groups. Beginning in his teenage years, he played on various blues circuits. His biggest influence as a harmonica player was Sonny Boy Williamson, with whom he had the chance of working with before moving on to work for Howlin’ Wolf in 1949.
Parker got his first recording opportunity from talent scout Ike Turner, who brought him to Modern Records for his debut session as a leader in 1952. He produced the single “You’re My Angel” with Turner. Eventually, Parker and his band, The Blue Flames, landed at Sun Records and promptly scored a hit with their rollicking “Feelin’ Good.”
In 1953, the polished Junior Parker had moved on to Don Robey’s Duke imprint in Houston. It took a while for the harpist to regain his hit-making momentum, but he scored big in 1957 with the smooth “Next Time You See Me.” Parker’s success declined after he left Duke in 1966. He recorded for various labels, including Mercury, Blue Rock, Minit, and Capitol.
Parker died before his 40th birthday due to a brain tumor. He was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 2001.