Wheeler was first turned onto the harp while driving a cab by one of his regular fares, Buster Brown
shot at "Fannie Mae"-fired stardom was still a few decades down the line, but Wheeler's was even further off. He left Georgia in 1941, eventually settling in Chicago, where he met Little Walter
. The two became friends, Walter
acting as something of a mentor. Wheeler began fronting his own combo in 1956 but never really sustained a musical career (he worked as a mechanic to pay the bills).
In 1993, Delmark unleashed the harpist's debut disc, Big Wheeler's Bone Orchard, which found him backed by a young local outfit, the Ice Cream Men. Jump In followed in 1997. Wheeler's brother, guitarist James Wheeler
, is also a longtime denizen of the Windy City scene; he's currently a mainstay of Mississippi Heat
after spending an extended stint behind Otis Rush
. ~ Bill Dahl, Rovi