Jerry Portnoy was born in Chicago, Illinois in November 1943. He spent his youth in the blues-rich atmosphere of the city’s Maxwell Street Market during the golden age of Chicago blues.
At the age of 25, he discovered his aptitude for playing the harmonica. Within 5 years, he was touring with blues legend Muddy Waters. He toured as part of the Muddy Waters Blues Band between 1974 and 1980. During the next six years, he became a founding member of the Legendary Blues Band. He then moved onto his own band, The Streamliners.
Jerry released his first solo album in 1991. Over the years, he has worked with such artists as Dan Akroyd, John Belushi, Gregg Allman, Larry Coryell, The Rolling Stones, Bonnie Raitt, Bob Dylan, Dizzy Gillespie, Freddie King, Albert King, and B.B. King. He has written and performed original music for Sesame Street and has lectured at Boston’s Berklee School of Music. He has also released a 3 CD instructional package, Jerry Portnoy’s Blues Harmonica Masterclass.
Jerry first met Eric Clapton in 1978 when Muddy toured as Eric’s support act. Muddy, accompanied by Jerry and Pinetop Perkins joined Eric onstage at the Guildford Civic Hall during the final show of the tour on 7 December. He played again with Eric’s band during the Albert Hall Blues Nights in 1991. Jerry toured extensively with Eric between 1994 and 1996. He can be heard on Eric’s CDs, 24 Nights and From The Cradle.