Herman Fowlkes, Jr.

Herman Fowlkes, Jr.

Fowlkes, center, and the 201st AGP Band.
Background information
Born (1919-09-21)September 21, 1919
Origin Chicago, Illinois, United States
Died April 3, 1993(1993-04-03) (aged 73)
Genres Jazz, blues
Occupation(s) Musician, educator
Instruments Bass, guitar, trumpet
Years active 1943–1993
Labels Trumpet Records
Associated acts Sonny Boy Williamson II, Jerry McCain

Herman Fowlkes, Jr. (September 21, 1919 – April 3, 1993) was an American jazz musician and educator from Chicago, Illinois.


Fowlkes was the first of two children born to Herman Bradley Fowlkes, Sr. and Marie Payne. He was of West African, Irish, Welsh, and Eastern European descent. As a youngster growing up in Chicago Heights, Illinois, he received classical musical training on the violin. Fowlkes later exchanged his violin for the trumpet and became immersed in the burgeoning music scene of post-prohibition era Chicago. At the age of 23, he joined the U.S. Army and traveled south with the 201st AGF Band. While stationed in Mississippi at Camp Shelby, the 201st AGP Band performed for many college and social club dances.[1]

Herman Fowlkes, Jr. played an integral role in an under-documented Jackson, Mississippi jazz/R&B scene that produced national figures Teddy Edwards, Freddie Waits, Dick Griffin, and Mel Brown, and local luminaries such as brothers Kermit, Jr., Bernard, and Sherrill Holly. Fowlkes came to Jackson in 1948 and studied at Jackson State College with music professor William W. “Prof” Davis. Fowlkes was one of the first Mississippi musicians to play electric bass, beginning in 1952. He performed locally in the bands of Carlia “Duke” Oatis, Clarence “Duke” Huddleston, Joe Dyson, Bernard “Bunny” Williams, and O’Neal Hudson, and worked in jazz and blues combos with musicians including Andy Hardwick, Willie Silas, Charles Fairley, and Al Clark. He toured briefly as the bassist in blues balladeer Ivory Joe Hunter’s band and occasionally accompanied national stars, including Sam Cooke and Gatemouth Brown, on local shows. Fowlkes played bass on recording sessions for Trumpet Records with bluesmen Sonny Boy Williamson II and Jerry McCain in 1953 and also recalled recording with New Orleans singer Lloyd Price and others.[1]

He was the father of three children, among whom jazz vocalist Cassandra Wilson is the youngest.


  1. 1 2 "Cassandra Wilson". Msbluestrail.org. Retrieved 2015-11-23.
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