Big Jay McNeely at Ponderosa Stomp

I only managed to see Big Jay McNeely perform live one time but it was a bone rattler. McNeely was already in his 80s when he took the Ponderosa Stomp stage at Howlin Wolf that night.

You would’ve sworn he was 45.

I can still hear the wails of his tenor sax nearly a decade later. Ever the showman in spite of his advanced years, McNeely spent part of the set strutting through the crowd on the packed dance floor just chopping heads off with his sax.

The crowd roared, and swayed as he reeled off lick after lick.

Big Jay McNeely first topped the Billboard chart 68 years ago with “Deacon’s Hop” I’m sure it’s on Youtube if you don’t have the record.

Rest in peace Big Jay, there will never be another like you.

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