Clive Mellor has been playing blues harmonica since the mid-70’s and is well-known in Manchester and other Northern parts! For several years, Clive has recorded and performed with singer-songwriter Richard Hawley – with whom he shares a special enthusiasm for blues harmonica virtuoso Little Walter. For example, Clive played at a sell-out gig with Richard, Corrine Bailey-Rae and Paul Weller at the Union Chapel for the War Child charity on 17 February 2017.
I first met Clive Mellor in 1976 or thereabouts when I was working as a DJ in clubs and venues in and around Manchester. I would often arrive at these gigs on my own with my transit van full of DJ gear and boxes of records. Clive quickly figured out that if he helped me to carry my gear in and out for me, then he could avoid having to pay to get into the venue – so he became my unpaid assistant whenever I was gigging in his area for a couple of years and he loved hearing all the music I was playing.
Quite often, I would play some old blues and R & B records in between the more usual soul music. Clive immediately fell in love with the sounds of Slim Harpo, Sonny Boy Williamson and Little Walter – the blues harmonica players! Clive then became “a man on a mission” to discover as much as possible about these old blues musicians and their recordings, and he started to get interested in the idea of playing blues harmonica and guitar himself.
I still had a couple of old harmonicas and a tutor book, but had given up on the idea of playing harmonica myself ten years previously – so I gave these to Clive to help him get started. I also helped him to choose an electric guitar and gave him a couple of starter lessons – but he did not stick with the guitar, putting all his effort into the harmonica instead. Ten years later, he was winning Hohner Blues Harmonica competitions every year, and ended up judging these! And I was very happy to have introduced him to the instrument and help him get started!
Since I moved to London in 1979, I have kept in touch with Clive and we have recorded harmonica and guitar duets on a number of occasions over the years. One day he promises to take this seriously and make a proper album with me!
© 2016 Mike Collins