By Steve Brewer
November 1, 2009
Regular news outlets don’t seem to have the story yet, but several websites are reporting that harmonica legend Norton Buffalo died this weekend.
We reported here at the Corner Booth on Friday that the singer-songwriter and harmonica virtuoso was suffering lung cancer, and cancer also had been found in his brain. He was first diagnosed with cancer in September, and had retired to his home in Paradise during treatment. He was 58.
I first became aware of Buffalo in 1979, when he appeared as one of Bette Midler’s sidemen in the movie “The Rose.” I remember coming out of the theater, thinking, “Who WAS that guy?” From there, I tracked down his records and became a fan of Buffalo and of blues harmonica in general. But it wasn’t until after I moved to Redding that I finally saw him perform live (at MarketFest a few years ago).
For three decades, Buffalo was a member of the Steve Miller Band. He also sat in with everyone from Bonnie Raitt to Jerry Garcia.
But perhaps his best work was in duets with blues guitarist Roy Rogers.
Here’s a music video of them together.