Don "Sugarcane" Harris

Don "Sugarcane" Harris

born on 18/6/1938 in Pasadena, CA, United States

died on 1/12/1999 in Los Angeles, CA, United States

Don "Sugarcane" Harris

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
Don "Sugarcane" Harris

Don Francis Bowman Harris (June 18, 1938[1] November 27, 1999), known as Don "Sugarcane" Harris, was an American rock and roll violinist and guitarist.


Harris was born and raised in Pasadena, California and started an act called Don and Dewey with his childhood friend Dewey Terry in the mid 1950s. Although they were recorded by Art Rupe on his Specialty label, mostly utilizing the services of legendary drummer Earl Palmer, Don and Dewey didn't have any hits. However, Harris and Terry co-authored such early rock and roll classics as "Farmer John", "Justine", "I'm Leaving It Up to You", and "Big Boy Pete," all of which became hits for other artists.

Harris was given the nickname "Sugarcane" by bandleader Johnny Otis and it was to remain with him throughout his life.

After separating from Dewey Terry in the 1960s, Harris moved almost exclusively over to the electric violin. He was to reappear as a sideman with John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers and Frank Zappa, most recognized for his appearances on Hot Rats, and on the Mothers of Invention albums Burnt Weeny Sandwich and Weasels Ripped My Flesh. His lead vocal and blues violin solo on a cover of Little Richard's "Directly From My Heart to You" on Weasels, and his extended solo on the lengthy "Little House I Used To Live In" on Weeny are considered highlights of those albums. Reportedly, he was rescued from a jail term by Zappa. Zappa had long admired Harris's playing and bailed him out of prison, resurrecting his career and ushering in a long period of creativity for the forgotten violin virtuoso. He played a couple of live concerts with Zappa's band in 1969.

During the early 1970s, Sugarcane fronted the Pure Food and Drug Act which included drummer Paul Lagos, guitarists Harvey Mandel and Randy Resnick, and bassist Victor Conte, who was the founder of the Bay Area Laboratory Co-operative (BALCO). Conte replaced Larry Taylor who was the original bass player. His first solo album (with back cover art by underground poster artist Rick Griffin) is a forgotten masterpiece of blues, jazz, classical and funk compositions, and his 1973 live album Sugarcane's Got The Blues, recorded at the Berlin Jazz Festival show an accomplished musician at the top of his game.

In the 1980s, Sugarcane was a member of the Los Angeles-based experimental rock band Tupelo Chain Sex.

Harris died on November 27, 1999 in Los Angeles, California.[2]


  • Don Sugarcane Harris 1970
  • Keep On Driving 1971
  • Fiddler On The Rock 1971
  • Choice Cuts 1972
  • Sugar Canes Got The Blues 1973
  • Keyzop 1973
  • Cup Full Of Dreams 1974
  • Im On Your Case 1974
  • Key Stop 1975
  • Flashin' Time 1976
  • Anthology Volume One 2001
  • Cup Full Of Dreams CD 2011


  • John Lee Hooker: Folk Blues 1959
  • Little Richard: Little Richard is back 1964
  • Johnny Otis: Cold Shot 1969
  • John Mayall & Bluesbreakers: The Best of John Mayall 1969
  • Frank Zappa: Hot Rats 1969
  • The Mothers of Invention: Burnt Weeny Sandwich 1970
  • The Mothers of Invention: Weasels Ripped My Flesh 1970
  • Frank Zappa: Chunga's Revenge 1970
  • Little Richard: Well Alright! 1970
  • John Mayall: USA Union - 1970
  • Johnny Otis: Cuttin up The Johnny Otis Show 1971
  • Harvey Mandel: The Snake - 1972
  • Pure Food & Drug Act: Choice Cuts 1972
  • New Violin Summit (with Jean-Luc Ponty, Micha Urbaniak, Nipso Brantner, Terje Rypdal, Wolfgang Dauner, Neville Whitehead, Robert Wyatt) - 1972
  • Ken Little: Solo - 1973
  • Harvey Mandel: Shangrenade - 1973
  • John Mayall: Ten Years Are Gone 1973

  • John Lee Hooker: Born In Mississippi 1973
  • Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee: Sonny & Brownie 1973
  • Frank Zappa: Apostrophe (') 1974
  • Don & Dewey: Don And Dewey 1974
  • Spud: Happy Handful 1975
  • John Mayall: New Year, New Band, New Company 1975
  • John Mayall: Notice To Appear 1975
  • John Mayall: Banquet In Blues 1976
  • Billy Bang: Changing Seasons 1980
  • Tupelo Chain Sex: Ja-Jazz 1983
  • Tupelo Chain Sex: Spot The Difference 1984
  • Don & Dewey: Bim Bam! 1985
  • John Mayall: Archives To Eighties 1988
  • Don & Dewey: Jungle Hop 1991
  • John Mayall: Room To Move (1969-1974) 1992
  • Freddie Roulette: Sweet Funky Steel 1993
  • John Mayall: Cross Country Blues 1994
  • Frank Zappa: The Lost Episodes 1996


  1. Family Tree Legends
  2. Pareles, Jon (December 10, 1999). Don Harris, 61, A Versatile Master Of Rhythm and Blues (obituary). New York Times C19. Retrieved on 24 February 2010.

External links

  • Obituary at the New York Times
  • Don "Sugarcane" Harris at All Music Guide
  • Sugarcane Harris at
  • New Violin Summit at All Music Guide
This page was last modified 13.08.2013 18:23:18

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