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Jerry Murad and the Harmonicats
The Harmonicats were a trio of Jerry Murad (lead), Al Fiore (chording) and Don Les (bass). Murad and Fiore left Borrah Minevitch in 1944 to form trio with Les. They were the top-selling of all harmonica groups, with a #1 hit in 1947: "Peg O' My Heart." They benefited from reduced competition: this was during a musician's union strike, and the harmonica was not considered a musical instrument.
The Harmonicats recorded for Columbia through the mid-1950s, switched to Mercury for a few years, then returned to Columbia until the late 1960s. Although most of their albums featured covers of current hits and space age pop standards, their 1966 album, What New, Harmonicats?, is a rockin' powerhouse, as the trio wails on numbers such as "Blowin' in the Wind" and "Get Off of My Cloud."
Jerry Murad carried on with new versions of the Harmonicats until his death in 1996. He appeared numerous times in pops concerts with orchestras conducted by Richard Hayman. The two former Harmonica Rascals played duets as part of these performances. He also released a number of albums on his own label along with a line of harmonica instruction books.
Recently, Murad's son Michael unearthed a tape of his father leading the group in one of their last tours before their leader's death. Titled, "A Night in San Francisco", a DVD of this 1993 performance can be purchased through the website, www.harmonicats.com.
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