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Blues Innovator to Get Headstone

October 30, 1991

CHICAGO (AP) _ Blues great Little Walter lies in an unmarked grave, fading into oblivion along with his harmonica innovations. Now, two fans hope a headstone will help another generation remember.

″He was the first to play the harmonica through an amplifier, cupping his hands around it and playing into a microphone, and that created another whole instrument,″ said Scott Dirks, 33, of Chicago radio station WLUP.

″So every harmonica player today, whether they realize it or not, is influenced by what he did,″ Dirks said Tuesday.

″He was a blues innovator,″ said Eomot Rasun, 46, a harmonica player and goldsmith. ″But credit is very hard to give to a person like that. He was self-taught. He didn’t know how to read music. And he was a very difficult person to get along with.″

Marion Walter Jacobs played on many Muddy Waters’ hits, including the 1957 classic ″Got My Mojo Working,″ and toured with such stars as Otis Rush and the Rolling Stones.

He had eight Top 10 solo hits, including two No. 1 hits: ″Juke,″ in 1952, and ″My Babe,″ in 1955.

He was a heavy drinker, and his career nose-dived in the late 1960s. Little Walter died in a Chicago street fight in 1968 at age 37.

Rasun found his unmarked grave in a suburban Evergreen Park cemetery while researching a book on the Chicago musician.

″I was very saddened. I asked him, ’Why are you in a nameless grave?‴

Rasun believes there never was a headstone, although he identified where Jacobs was by cemetery records.

Rasun and Dirks plan to dedicate a simple marker on Feb. 15, the 24th anniversary of Jacobs’ death.

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