The podcast that provides profiles of great harmonica players and technicians from around the world
June 23, 2022

William Clarke retrospective, with Paul Barry

William Clarke retrospective, with Paul Barry

Paul Barry joins me on episode 64. Paul is our resident expert on William Clarke, and is currently writing a biography about him.

Bill (as he was known to his friends) was born in a suburb of Los Angeles, and starting going to the blues clubs in the south of the city, age 17. Bill met his great inspiration, George ‘Harmonica’ Smith, in 1977, with George showing Bill how to play that big old chromatic harmonica . 

Bill released his first album in 1978, with other albums following where he always featured original material. He then signed for Alligator records in 1990, releasing his superb album: Blowin’ Like Hell. The four albums he released with Alligator gave Bill the chance to fully shape the sound he had been developing, influenced by jazz players and including a horn section. 

Sadly Bill passed away at age 45, but he has still left us with an essential body of work for both diatonic and chromatic blues harmonica.


Paul Barry’s band website:

LA newspaper interview with Bill 1991:

Tom Ellis: William Clarke Memorial article in Blues Access magazine:

Bob Corritore: William Clarke Remembered photo gallery:

Interview with his wife: Jeanette Clarke-Lodovici

HarpTranscripts: for transcription of Blowin' The Family Jewels: (under 'G harmonica')


Hitting Heavy album:

William Clarke playing Lollipop Mama:

William Clarke playing Pawnshop Bound:

William Clarke playing on Bro Matt’s Bluez Shift:

Podcast website:

If you want to make a voluntary donation to help support the running costs of the podcast then please use this link (or visit the podcast website link above):

Spotify Playlist:
Also check out the Spotify Playlist, which contains most of the songs discussed in the podcast:

Podcast sponsors:
This podcast is sponsored by SEYDEL harmonicas - visit the oldest harmonica factory in the world at  or on Facebook or Instagram at SEYDEL HARMONICAS
and Blows Me Away Productions: