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11/03/2009

Norton Buffalo, harmonica master

November 3, 2009 |  4:51 pm


Norton Buffalo, a singer and harmonica player who spent more than 30 years with the Steve Miller Band, died Friday in Paradise, Calif. He was 58 and had cancer.

I found a reference to Buffalo in a 1981 Times story about, as writer Stuart Goldman put it, "the folks who make their living playing harmonica."

Buffalo was described as "a skinny little fellow from Northern California" who along with playing with Miller had gigs with Commander Cody and a role in the Bette Midler movie "The Rose." According to his website, Buffalo has played on more than 180 albums.

"I don't know what it is about the harp, but it's like ... you can just pull one out in a club and everybody'll go, 'ALLLLRRRIIGHHTT!" he said in 1981. "It's weird, maybe it's got something to do with the frequency. I dunno. All I can say I guess is that the harp is just a really magical instrument."

Video: Norton Buffalo plays and sings with Bay Area slide guitarist Roy Rogers.

--Keith Thursby

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