Pat Hare’s aggressive, distorted lead guitar work at Sun Studios in 1953 literally set the tone for Blues rock, Rockabilly and Heavy Metal players decades later. In fact Pat’s contribution to James Cotton‘s ‘Cotton Crop Blues’ with it’s heavy power-chords, is sometimes cited as the first ‘heavy metal solo’. Recruited by Muddy Waters in 1956, and playing on some of his most important records, Pat’s insatiable taste for alcohol was to lead to personal tragedy.
Pat lets rip on ‘Cotton Crop Blues’;
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In May 1954, Pat made some solo recordings for Sun that remained unissued for decades, and one of these, ‘Gonna Murder My Baby’, was to prove prophetic. Later that year, Pat relocated to Houston and became a first-call session man for Don Robey‘s Duke label, cutting many records with his old friends Rosco and Junior, as well as Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland and Big Mama Thornton. Then Pat was called to Chicago by Muddy Waters, who had already recruited James Cotton to his band. Pat’s first cut at Chess was ‘Forty Days and Forty Nights’ in early 1956, and he played on the classic ‘Got My Mojo Working’, adding his spectacular guitar breaks to Muddy’s performances for almost five years. The band played at the Newport Jazz Festival in 1960, and the subsequent live album made Muddy’s name around the world, but Pat was credited as ‘Tat Harris’ on the album cover! Shortly afterwards, Pat was fired for drunken behaviour. A mild mannered and affable man when sober, Pat turned nasty when he had a drink, and when he started turning up drunk most of the time, he was unmanageable.
Pat singing his prophetic song ‘Gonna Murder My Baby’;
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Pat moved to Minneapolis to work with another ex-Muddy sideman Mojo Buford, but in 1963, in nearby St. Paul, Pat’s tragedy played out. He shot his girlfriend dead, and when the police came to investigate, he killed an officer too, so he was inevitably sentenced to life imprisonment. It seems he formed a band in jail, ‘Sounds Incarcerated’ and, after 16 years behind bars, he passed away from lung cancer in 1980.