Listen to ‘Midnight Rambler’, the dark yet slinky blues rock track from The Rolling Stones’ album Let It Bleed, and you’re reminded not only of Mick Jagger’s mellifluous vocals, but his ability to bring an instrument of his own to the mix: the harmonica.
Indeed, his prodigious musical partner Keith Richards – with whom he’s formed one of the most successful songwriting partnerships in history – has persistently heaped praise on Jagger’s ability with a harmonica, also known as a blues harp.
In his 2010 memoirs, Life, Richards makes clear that since the band’s early days, Jagger was eager “to play in the band musically as well”, and that “Mick turned out to be the most amazing harp player”.
“I’d put him up there with the best in the world, on a good night,” Richards writes. “Everything else we know he can do – he’s a great showman – but to a musician, Mick Jagger is a great harp player. His phrasing is incredible.”
Indeed, as Mick Jagger himself tells whynow, his devotion to the harmonica is rooted in seeing his blues heroes ply their trade to the humble yet mighty instrument. “I started to learn the harmonica after hearing the greats of the blues such as Little Walter and Sonny Boy Williamson,” he says. “Since then I’ve played harmonica on so many tracks and at countless gigs over the years.”
Now, a new collaboration between Mick Jagger and Danish harmonicist Lee Oskar, released exclusively through whynow Music, is offering a limited run of bespoke harmonicas.
The collaboration brings together two giants of the musical world, with Oskar – of multi-platinum-selling funk-rock band War, and Lowrider Band fame – having dedicated the latter period of his musical career to the creation of the ultimate harmonicas.
Available from 8 February, the pair have designed and delivered the ideal instrument, hoping to inspire a new legion of players, just as Mick Jagger was inspired by the blues heroes of his own.
“To now have my name on a range of Lee Oskar harmonicas is fantastic news,” Jagger said further. “Hopefully some of them will get into the hands of young harmonica players who turn out to be the legends of the future.”
Lee Oskar, meanwhile, has spoken of his pride in the partnership: “We are thrilled to collaborate with Mick Jagger and whynow Music on this unique project. Why? Because of Mick, an artist I respect enormously.
“When I started Lee Oskar Harmonicas with Tombo in 1983, it was my dream to create harmonicas that would not only exceed my standards but also be embraced by other music professionals.
“It is a dream come true that someone with Mick Jagger’s success and level of artistry chooses our harmonica system. I am honoured to be a part of this very special collaboration.”
whynow Music works closely with artists to create high end products that are both long lasting and unique to them. Each collection has a short run, so fans are giving something completely exclusive and directly connected to the artist.
There will be 2,500 harmonicas available to purchase in a range of keys, with a price of £49.99 ($60 / €57) per unit.
Anyone wishing to purchase the harmonicas on pre-order – and fashion a tune like ‘Midnight Rambler’ of their own – can do so here at whynowmusic.com.