A blues harmonica master who made his name in Chicago in the '50s, Dusty Brown was born on March 11, 1929 in Tralake, Mississippi.
He began playing the harmonica when he was 13 years old and growing up in a rural community. In 1946, Brown left Mississippi and settled in Chicago, Illinois, where he hoped to find better work and a chance at making a mark on the city's fabled blues music community. Slowly but surely, Brown broke into the Windy City's blues circuit, sharing stages with major acts such as Muddy Waters and Little Walter. In 1955, Brown made his recording debut with "He Don't Love You" b/w "Yes She's Gone," a single on the Chicago-based Parrot label; the label folded in 1956 before Brown could cut a follow-up, but he recorded "Please Don't Go" b/w "Well, You Know" for another short-lived label, Bandera Records. Throughout the '60s, Brown performed only occasionally and recorded little, but in the early '70s he enjoyed a career resurgence when his recordings were rediscovered in Europe and he played blues festivals overseas. In 1975, Brown opened a night spot and music venue in Chicago Heights, Dusty's Lounge, where he played host to a number of fellow Chicago blues veterans, including Sunnyland Slim and Hip Linkchain. In the early '90s, Brown left Chicago to return to the South, but in the new millennium, he moved back to Chicago and returned to performing. In 2005, Brown and a handful of other blues harp virtuosos -- including Little Addison, Oscar Coleman, Larry Cox, Russ Green, and Harmonica Khan #1 -- recorded an album under the collective banner of the Chicago Blues Harmonica Project, Diamonds in the Rough. ~ Mark Deming