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Johnny Mars
Johnny Mars
Born (1942-12-07) December 7, 1942 (age 75)
Laurens, South Carolina, United States
Genres Electric blues[1]
Harmonicist, singer, songwriter
Instruments Harmonica, vocals
Early 1960s - present
Labels Various

Johnny Mars (born December 7, 1942)[1] is an American electric blues harmonica player, singer, and songwriter. Over a long career, he has worked with Magic Sam, Earl Hooker, B.B. King, Jimi Hendrix, Jesse Fuller, Spencer Davis, Ian Gillan, Do-Re-Mi, Bananarama and Michael Roach.


Mars was born in Laurens, South Carolina, to sharecropping parents.[1] His family regularly moved house when Mars was a youngster, but at the age of nine, he was presented with his first harmonica. When he was aged fourteen, and on the death of his mother, Mars and his younger siblings moved to New Paltz, New York, and having left high school, Mars began playing in various clubs in New York City.[2] He signed a recording contract with Mercury Records whilst a member of the band Burning Bush, and they recorded several sides with the label.[1]

By the mid-1960s, Mars had moved to California and formed the Johnny Mars Band, which found work but no recognition beyond their North California base. However, they toured with Magic Sam and played on the same bill as Earl Hooker, B.B. King and Jesse Fuller.[2] After advice from Rick Estrin (Little Charlie & the Nightcats), Mars toured the United Kingdom in 1972 and subsequently recorded two albums there before relocating to Somerset in 1978. He worked with the record producer Ray Fenwick plus Spencer Davis and Ian Gillan. His 1984 album, Life on Mars, received critical acclaim.[1]

In 1988, Mars was a guest musician on the Do-Re-Mi album The Happiest Place in Town. He later worked with Bananarama on "Preacher Man" (1990) and their 1991 cover version of "Long Train Running", appearing in the group's music video for the former track.[1] Mars also taught for 15 years in primary schools in England and worked with teenagers in music projects.[2] He continued touring across the UK and Europe, where he had a strong fan base. In 1992, Mars played at the San Francisco Blues Festival. In 1999, he released the album Stateside. On My Mind followed in 2003.[1] In 2003 and 2004, he played with the Barrelhouse Blues Orchestra.[3]

More recently, Mars teamed up with the blues guitarist Michael Roach and appeared at the Bath Music Festival (2008, UK),[4] The Pocono Blues Festival (US) and the Kastav Blues Festival (Croatia). In January 2010, the pair toured the Middle East.[5]


Year Title Record label
1972 Blues from Mars Polydor
1976 Oakland Boogie Big Bear
1980 Mighty Mars JSP
1984 Life on Mars Beat Goes On
1994 King of the Blues Harp JSP
1999 Stateside MM&K
2003 On My Mind Springboard Productions


See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Skelly, Richard. "Johnny Mars". Retrieved 2010. 
  2. ^ a b c "Johnny Mars Biography". Retrieved 2011. 
  3. ^ "The Barrelhouse Blues Orchestra". Retrieved 2011. 
  4. ^ "Billy Bragg Michael Roach & Johnny Mars". Retrieved 2011. 
  5. ^ "Michael Roach & Johnny Mars". Archived from the original on April 25, 2012. Retrieved 2011. 
  6. ^ "Johnny Mars: Discography". Retrieved 2011. 

External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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