Mickey Raphael, harmonica virtuoso and featured player in Willie Nelson’s band, joins the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum for this 2018 interview, part of the Nashville Cats series exploring the careers of session musicians and the professional relationships they’ve had with country music stars.
Mickey Raphael was only twenty-one years old when he started playing harmonica with Country Music Hall of Fame member Willie Nelson in 1973, and during this installment of Nashville Cats, Raphael dives into “what it takes for a harmonica player to keep a job for over forty years.”
“His harmonica transformed Nelson’s sound so that he began reaching a larger and much younger audience,” says the program’s host, singer-songwriter Bill Lloyd, addressing the longstanding musical association between Raphael and Nelson. “Because Willie knows a good thing when he hears it, Willie’s never abandoned Mickey. And because Mickey understands that Willie is an entertainment immortal, Mickey has never left Willie.”
In addition to his time on the road and in the recording studio with Willie Nelson, Raphael has played on recordings by Johnny Cash, Guy Clark, Emmylou Harris, Vince Gill, Alison Krauss, Margo Price, Elton John, Snoop Dogg, and U2.
The program closes with a performance by Raphael, which includes the Willie Nelson classic, "On the Road Again," alongside Bill Lloyd, fellow Nashville Cat Duane Eddy, drummer Patrick Hallahan and bassist Tom Blankenship of the band My Morning Jacket.
Explore the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum’s current exhibitions: https://countrymusichalloffame.org/current-exhibits/
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