Buddy Lucas was an American saxophonist and harmonica player, born on August 16, 1914 in Elm City, North Carolina. He began his music career as a teenager, playing saxophone and clarinet with various bands in North Carolina before moving to New York in 1934. There, he quickly became a sought-after sideman and session musician, playing on countless records in a variety of genres, including jazz, blues, R&B, and rock and roll.
In the early 1950s, Lucas began to focus more on R&B and rock and roll, working with artists such as Big Joe Turner, Ray Charles, and Bo Diddley. He became known for his distinctive saxophone solos, which were often featured prominently in the songs he played on. He also played harmonica on many recordings, earning him the nickname “The Harmonica King.”
In addition to his work as a sideman, Lucas also recorded several albums as a bandleader, including the 1956 release “Buddy Lucas and His Band Stand Up and Fight.” He continued to work as a session musician throughout the 1960s and 1970s, playing on records by artists such as Otis Redding, Aretha Franklin, and Neil Diamond.
Lucas was known for his virtuosic playing and his ability to seamlessly blend different styles of music. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1991 as a member of the Midnighters, a group he had played with in the 1950s. He died on July 18, 1983, in New York City, leaving behind a legacy as one of the most versatile and talented saxophonists of his time.
Page last updated 3/26/2023.