Mississippi-born bluesman who worked with Muddy Waters; moved to Minnesota in the 1960s, fronting a locally-based group while also touring the world
Background: George “Mojo” Buford was born in Mississippi in 1929 and learned to play the blues harmonica (or blues harp) and sing at a young age. In his early teen years he moved to Memphis where he was influenced by B.B. King, Muddy Waters, Little Walter, Sonny Boy Williams, Howlin’ Wolf and other blues players he heard on the radio. In 1953 he moved to Cleveland for a brief time and then moved to Chicago where he formed a trio in 1954 called The Savage Boys. Muddy Waters took notice of the band and booked them as the Muddy Waters Jr. Band, when he was out of town on concert dates.
1959: Muddy Waters hires George to replace Little Walter in his band. George plays with Muddy Waters for three years in Chicago.
1962: George moves to Minneapolis and forms a band and plays at Mattie’s Barbecue located at 29th and Nicollet. One story regarding the origin of the nickname “Mojo” credits the fans at Mattie’s who would frequently request his version of the Muddy Waters song “Got My Mojo Working”, a song Muddy Waters had heard while on tour by Ann Cole and the Suburbans (written by Preston Foster). Muddy modified the words to the song and copyrighted his own version which led to litigation with the original copyright holder. George plays part of this year on a concert tour with Muddy Waters.
1964: The Exciting Harmonica Sound of Mojo Buford is released. This is the first of many albums by Mojo.
1967 – 1968: Mojo goes on tour with Muddy Waters and plays in the United States, Canada, Australia, England and Europe.
September, 1969 – January, 1970: David Anthony decides to get Mojo in the studio along with local musicians to record an album. Tony Andreason and Lonnie Knight produce the album at Micside Recording Studios. Bob Schultz is the engineer. The musicians are: Lonnie Knight (guitars); Lazy Bill Lucas (piano); Bruce Pedalty (keyboards); Larry Hoffman (bass guitar) and Greg Hammel and Bill Gent (drums). The album (given the name Micside Blues) is never released.
June/July, 1970: Mojo forms the Mojo Buford Group with Lonnie Knight (guitar), Denny Johnson (bass guitar), Dave Himmelbacker (keyboards), and Rick Johnson (drums). The group practices in the basement of Denny Johnson’s house and play a few jobs during the two month period.
1971 – 1972: Mojo joins Muddy Waters again on a concert tour. The band opens up for The Rolling Stones at a concert in New York City.
1970’s: Numerous albums by Mojo are released on various foreign record labels.
In 2004, George “Mojo” Buford was inducted into the Minnesota Rock Country Hall at the Medina Ballroom. During his career, he performed all across the United States and also in Europe. A number of his earlier albums have been re-released.
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Sting Bee Blues
You Got To Help Me
Rag Pickers Blues
Deep Sea Diver
Love Without Jealousy
Mojo passed away on October 11, 2011.