don 'sugarcane' harris

Born: June 18, 1938 in Pasadena, CA
Died: November 30th, 1999 in South Los Angeles  

In 1955 Dewey Terry and a couple of friends started doo-wop band The Squires. The band included Dewey Terry, Don Harris, Lee Goudreau, Bob Armstrong, Chester Pipkin, Leon Washington and Don Bowman. They recorded various singles on various labels. From 1957 on (until about 1967), Dewey Terry and Don Harris continued as a duo: Don & Dewey, releasing various singles on Specialty Records. 1970 saw the first Don & Dewey album release, compiling most of their singles from previous years.

In the late sixties, Don 'Sugarcane' Harris, started playing with and doing sessions for various artists, including Little Richard, Johnny Otis and John Mayall.

In 1969, longtime Don & Dewey fan Frank Zappa, got Don 'Sugarcane' to join his band. Zappa recorded "Hot Rats", "Burnt Weeny Sandwich", "Weasels Ripped My Flesh" and "Chunga's Revenge" with Sugarcane Harris in his band.

In the seventies, Sugarcane Harris recorded and toured with a.o. John Mayall, the Pure Food & Drug Act and made a couple of solo releases. In the early eighties, he played with Tupelo Chain Sex.

The last years of his life, Sugarcane toured with Dewey Terry again as Don & Dewey. In later years, several of Sugarcane's solo albums have been reissued on cd.

Picture source: Randy Resnick



  = don & dewey material
  = don 'sugarcane' harris solo material
  = with frank zappa and / of the mothers of invention


  the squires: a dream come true / lucy lou
    (1954, 7”, usa, kicks 1) - feat. don 'sugarcane' harris
  the squires: sindy / do-be-do-be-wop-wop
    (1955, 7”, usa, mambo 105) - feat. don 'sugarcane' harris
  the squires: me and my deal / sweet girl
    (1955, 7”, usa, vita 113) - feat. don 'sugarcane' harris
  the squires: heavenly angel / sweet girl
    (1955, 7”, usa, vita 116) - feat. don 'sugarcane' harris
  effie smith: guiding angel / you ought to be ashamed
    (1955, 7”, usa, vita 117) - feat. don 'sugarcane' harris, the squires backing effie smith
  the squires: venus / breath of air
    (1956, 7”, usa, vita 128) - feat. don 'sugarcane' harris
  the squires: dreamy eyes / dangling with my heart
    (1956, 7”, usa, aladdin 3360) - feat. don 'sugarcane' harris
  don & dewey: miss sue / my heart is aching
    (1956, 7”, usa, shade 1000) - feat. don 'sugarcane' harris
  don & dewey: jungle hop / a little love
    (1957, 7”, usa, specialty 599)
  don & dewey: leavin' it all up to you / jelly bean
    (1957, 7”, usa, specialty 610)
  don & dewey: just a little lovin’ / when the sun has begun to shine
    (1957, 7”, usa, specialty 617)
  don & dewey: bim bam / justine
    (1958, 7”, usa, specialty 631)
  don & dewey: ko ko joe / the letter
    (1958, 7”, usa, specialty 639)
  don & dewey: slummin’ / fiddlin’ the blues
    (1959, 7”, usa, spot 101)
  don & dewey: farmer john / big boy pete
    (1959, 7”, usa, specialty 659)
  h.b. barnum: h.b. boogie / jump awhile
    (1959, 7”, usa, fidelity 3017)  /  (b-side with don & dewey,  feat. don 'sugarcane' harris)
  don & dewey: little sally walker / kill me
    (1959, 7”, usa, fidelity 3018)
  john lee hooker: folk blues
    (1959, lp, usa, ??) - feat. don 'sugarcane' harris
  sugarcane & his violin: they say you never can miss / elim stole my baby (boo hoo)
    (1960, 7”, usa, elko 103)
the squires: sindy / do-be-do-be-wop-wop
    (1960, 7”, usa, vita 105) = (reissue of mambo 105) - feat. don 'sugarcane' harris
  don & dewey: soul motion / stretchin' out
    (1962, 7”, usa, rush 1002)
  don & dewey: don't ever leave me / heart attack
    (1962, 7”, usa, rush 1003/highland 1050) - feat.johnny guitar watson on piano
  don & dewey: get your hat / annie lee
    (1964, 7”, usa, specialty 691)
little richard: bama lama bama loo / annie is back
    (1964, 7”, usa, specialty 692) - feat. don 'sugarcane' harris
little richard: whole lotta shakin’ / goodnight irene
    (1964, 7”, usa, veejay 612) - feat. don 'sugarcane' harris
little richard: little richard is back
    (1964, lp,  usa, veejay lp-1107) - feat. don 'sugarcane' harris
  don & dewey: get your hat / annie lee
    (1964, 7”, uk, london hl 9897)
  don & dewey: soul motion / ??
    (1966, 7”, uk, cameo parkway cp 750)
  don & dewey: soul motion / stretchin' out
    (1967, 7”, uk, sue wi 4032)
johnny otis: cold shot
    (1969, lp, usa, kent534)
- feat. don 'sugarcane' harris
john mayall's bluesbrakers: the best of john mayall
    (1969, lp, usa, decca) - feat. don 'sugarcane' harris


frank zappa: hot rats
   (1969, lp, usa, bizarre)


the mothers of invention: burnt weeny sandwich
   (1970, lp, usa, bizarre)


don 'sugar cane' harris: don 'sugar cane' harris  (1)
    (1970, lp, usa, cbs / columbia epic lp 26286) - featuring shuggie otis
  don & dewey: they're rockin' 'til midnight, rollin' 'till dawn
    (1970, lp, usa, specialty sps 2131)


the mothers of invention: weasels ripped my flesh
   (1970, lp, usa, bizarre)


frank zappa: chunga's revenge
   (1970, lp, usa, bizarre)

little richard: bama lama bama loo / keep a-knockin
    (1970, 7”, usa, specialty 697) - feat. don 'sugarcane' harris
little richard: poor boy paul / wonderin’
    (1970, 7”, usa, specialty 699) - feat. don 'sugarcane' harris
little richard: well alright!
    (1970, lp, usa, specialty lp-2136) - feat. don 'sugarcane' harris
  ‘sugarcane’ harris: a little soul food / i'm unconscious
    (1970, 7”, usa, epic 5-10723)
john mayall: u.s.a. union
(1970, lp, usa, decca) - feat. don 'sugarcane' harris
2 don 'sugar cane' harris: keep on driving  (2)
    (1971, lp, usa, mps / basf)
johnny otis: cuttin' up - the johnny otis show
    (1971, lp, usa, ??) - feat. sugarcane harris
3 don 'sugar cane' harris: fiddler on the rock  (3)
    (1972, lp, usa, mps / basf)
harvey mandel: the snake
    (1972, lp, usa, janus) - feat. don 'sugarcane' harris
pure food & drug act: choice cuts
    (1972, lp, usa, epic) = a don 'sugarcane' harris and harvey mandel project

purefoodanddrugact_choicecuts.jpg (40847 bytes)

jean-luc ponty: new violin summit
    (1972, lp, usa, mps) - feat. don 'sugarcane' harris
ken little: solo
    (1973, lp, usa, dharma) - feat. don 'sugarcane' harris
harvey mandel: shangrenade
    (1973, lp, usa, janus) - feat. don 'sugarcane' harris
4 sugar cane harris: sugar cane's got the blues  (4)
    (1973, lp, usa, mps / basf) - re-released on cd in 2008 on mps / spv as a paper-sleeve edition
john mayall: ten years are gone
    (1973, lp, usa, polydor) - feat. don 'sugarcane' harris
john lee hooker: born in mississippi
    (1973, lp, usa, abc) - feat. don 'sugarcane' harris
sonny terry & brownie: sonny & brownie
    (1973, lp, usa, ??) - feat. don 'sugarcane' harris


frank zappa: apostrophe (')
   (1974, lp, usa, discreet)
5 sugar cane harris: cup full of dreams  (5)
    (1974, lp, usa, mps / basf)
6 don sugarcane harris: i'm on your case  (6)
    (1974, lp, usa, mps / basf)
  don & dewey: don and dewey
    (1974, lp, usa, ??)
7 don sugarcane harris: keyzop  (7)
    (1975, lp, usa, mps / basf)
spud: happy handful
    (1975, lp, usa, philips)
- feat. don 'sugarcane' harris
john mayall: new year, new band, new company
    (1975, lp, usa, abc) - feat. don 'sugarcane' harris
john mayall: notice to appear
    (1975, lp, usa, abc) - feat. don 'sugarcane' harris
8 don sugarcane harris: flashin' time  (8)
    (1976, lp, usa, mps / basf)
john mayall: banquet in blues
    (1976, lp, usa, abc) - feat. don 'sugarcane' harris
billy bang: changing seasons
    (1980, lp, usa, ??) - feat. don 'sugarcane' harris
  tupelo chain sex: what is it
    (1982, lp, usa, selma) = don sugarcane harris
tupelo chain sex: ja-jazz
    (1983, lp, usa, selma records) = don sugarcane harris
tupelo chain sex: spot the difference
    (1984, lp, usa, selma records) = don sugarcane harris
  tupelo chain sex: dr.nightcall / two cadillacs crash!
    (1984, 7", usa, selma) = don sugarcane harris
tcs_drnightcall.jpg (52425 bytes)
  don & dewey: bim bam!
    (1985, lp, uk, ace ch 151)
tupelo chain sex: record breaker (bootleg)
    (1985, 10"-bootleg, usa, ??) = don sugarcane harris
john mayall: archives to eighties
    (1988, ??, usa, ??) - feat. don 'sugarcane' harris
  tupelo chain sex: 4!
    (1989, lp, usa, cargo) - also released on cd / = don sugarcane harris
  don & dewey: jungle hop
    (1991, cd, uk, specialty lp 7008)
john mayall: room to move (1969-1974)
    (1992, cd, usa, ??) - feat. don 'sugarcane' harris
freddie roulette: sweet funky steel
    (1993, cd, usa, ??) - feat. don 'sugarcane' harris
john mayall: cross country blues
    (1994, cd, usa, ??) - feat. don 'sugarcane' harris


frank zappa: the lost episodes
   (1996, cd, usa, ryko)
  don sugarcane harris: anthology volume one
    (2001, cd, usa, ??)    = anthology
  don sugarcane harris: sugarcane
    (2002, cd, usa, acadia records)


random notes

Johnny Otis and Don & Dewey. Don Harris is on the left and Dewey Terry on the right. Fred Harris is on the sax. Circa 1955 .

Picture taken from the website.

     From: unknown
I got to see him in LA (Long Beach actually?) in the early 70s. I've lost my memory of this but it may have been with Dewey (his original pairing, Don and Dewey - cf. Freak Out). I love his Epic album Sugarcane (E30027), produced by Johnny Otis, with a back cover by Rick Griffin. A wonderful musician. I used to live in his little house.

     From: unknown
Around 87-88 there was this band called Tupelo Chain sex. Can't remember much about them; I know they toured North America and had one or two LPs.
Guess they were based in California but that's not entirely sure. From an interview I read in some "alternative" rock mag of the time Sugarcane Harris was sporadically in and out of the band; the reason he was not a regular is that he kept having trouble with the law and had to do stints in prison. Drugs, I think.

     From: unknown
I hope this is a helpful bit of information. Discography-wise, after his great debut on Epic he recorded two (I think) albums with blues guitarist Harvey Mandel. One was named "Pure Food and Drug Act" and had a cover of "Eleanor Rigby". Then as you said he did three or four albums on the German  MPS label. I remember one of these was a live set with Robert Wyatt and had a cover of Horace Silver's "Song for my Father"; the LP was called "Sugarcane's  got the blues". Another album was named "Cup full of Dreams".
As with Aynsley Dunbar, he played with John Mayall. However not at the same time. Sugercane was with Mayall in the early 70's. At least he participate on the double LP "Ten Years have Gone" released 1973.

     Tony Burke sez:
For those who were wondering where Sugarcane Harris was, well...
In the latest issue of the UK rock and roll mag Now Dig This he is pictured with longtime 50's partner Dewey Terry.
Don and Dewey are currently doing the R&R revival circuit but  the "Don" ain't THE Sugarcane.
NDT doesn't mention where the pic was taken, but he's around.
Wouldn't mind asking him about the version of Sharleena on Lost Episodes...great record.

(ed. According to Mr. JAMES E. FOWLER, TIMES STAFF WRITER, The Don in Don and Dewey, IS the Sugarcane.

"Just because Dewey Terry and Don "Sugarcane" Harris are walking, talking artifacts in rock 'n' roll history doesn't mean their show is ready for a museum."

 ... "Besides being writers, both men are multi-instrumentalists.

Harris is best known for his  blues-rock electric violin work.
Harris recorded with Zappa, a longtime Don and Dewey fan, on "Hot Rats" and "Weasels Ripped My Flesh" in the 1970s."

     From: Daryl Wolff
Saw Sugarcane Harris with John Mayall in 1970 or 71 in Seattle. The band was Mayall, Harris, Harvey Mandel - Guitar, Larry Taylor - Bass, and Paul Lagos - Drums. Phenomenal duelling between Sugarcane's violin and Mandel's guitar. The concert also had Elliot Randall's (Lead guitar in Steely Dan's "Reeling in the Years") band called Randall's Island.
Second on the bill was Johnny Winter And. (And was the name of his band formerly the McCoys ["Hang on Sloopy"]). One of the best, if not the best concert, I saw. Shortly thereafter, Harris, Mandel, Taylor and Lagos came back as the Pure Food and Drug Act. Played at the Fresh Air (now defunct tavern on Capitol Hill). I was underage to get in, but I think they played there twice.

     From: Dean Minderman
     Date: 6 Nov 1997
I saw Don "Sugarcane" Harris last August, performing at the St. Louis Blues & Heritgage Festival with his old partner Dewey Rogers under the "Don & Dewey" moniker. Though he looked a little bit frail, Don sounded great, singing and playing with authority. During "Directly From My Heart To You", he laid down on the piano bench, stuck his feet in the air and performed various gyrations, without missing a note in his violin solo!
This was the only FZ-related material they performed, but they still put on a hell of a show of rootsy R&B, performing a number of songs from their Specialty records days. Dewey is a very entertaining performer and it was great to see Don in person after being an FZ fan for more than 25 years.
I think the Don & Dewey stuff has been reissued on CD, but I'm not sure if it's in print or widely available. And if you're looking for still more of Don's stuff, you might also want to scour the used bins for an album called "Pure Food & Drug Act," from the early Seventies. It's the self-titled debut of a blues-rock band that featured Don and guitarist Harvey Mandel. Also, look for Don's solo album "Sugarcane" from around that sime time. Both were on Epic records, as I recall.

     From: Milleri2
I had an album that I remember had "Sugarcane" on it called "Blue Rose" (also the name of the group, I believe).  Did you ever hear of it.  It was early 70s.  I heard two cuts in a record store in Sandusky, Ohio and was blown away! The album got left in  window seat and got warped in the sun.  I've never been able to replace it.  Anybody have it?

     From: William N Fordes (
Saw Don Harris in Alice's Revisted in Chicago in the early 70's several times.  Playing with him were Johnny Otis and, I believe, Harvey Mandel.  They were incredible.  Alice's held about 150-200 patrons, served no liquour, so a 17 year old college student like me could get in and sit through THREE sets of Don and the band.  Also saw him there with Pure Food and Drug Act.  Have his self-named album on vinyl, but would love to know if anyone out there has access to CD's......

     From: resmo (
     Date: Wed, 05 Aug 1998
In case you are interested, we still get royalties from Choice Cuts which would mean it is in print again somewhere here in Europe.
Dewey's last name is Terry, not Rogers.
For a while, the Don in "Don and Dewey" was a member of the Ellington family, hence the rumor.

Best wishes,
-- Randy Resnick

     From: Dave Wayne
DON "SUGARCANE" HARRIS - "Sugarcane's Got the Blues" Live at Berlin
Philharmonic Hall, MPS-BASF MB21283 (1973, US issue)
"Sugarcane's Got the Blues" was ostensibly recorded at the same gig (as the New Violin Summit); although no date is given on the sleeve, it was recorded live at the same venue. Harris also has the same backing band as on "New Violin Summit" except German guitarist Volker Kreigel is substituted for Terje on all cuts but one: Horace Silver's "Song For My Father".
Here Johann interjects: As far as I understand at that time Kriegel was the 'regular' guitarist of Harris. The set with him was recorded 3 days before (or after) the show with the 4 violinists. The track with Terje, is more than likely from the latter show.
Dave continues: Actually, Terje gets more solo space on this single tune than on the entire "New Violin Summit" 2-LP set! This is also the only instance I know of where Terje plays on a jazz 'standard', and the results are impressive in an odd sort of way. Harris states the theme alone, while Terje provides interesting 'commentary'. Terje's solo is thoughtful and somewhat restrained, with a clear, bell-like tone similar to his sound on the quieter moments of John Surman's "Morning Glory" LP. The rest of the LP is not bad at all. Kreigel acquits himself fairly well, Wyatt sounds much more confident, and in fact "...Got the Blues" may represent Harris' strongest playing aside from his work with Frank Zappa.

     From: Charles Ulrich
I would guess that there's a different Don Harris that plays trumpet (just like his brother Bob and his other brother Bob).
It's worth pointing out that Don was not primarily a violin player with Don & Dewey in the fifties. He sang and played bass and guitar. I'm aware of three Don & Dewey songs featuring violin: "Pink Champagne" (1959, included on the Jungle Hop CD), "Soul Motion", and "Elim Stole My Baby" (possibly by Don without Dewey).

     From: Randy Resnick (
     Date: Thu, 02 Dec 1999
As you've probably heard by now, Sugarcane died a few days ago. This news was sent to me by Dewey Terry and is unfortunately true.
We were hoping to have a reunion of PFDA members and maybe even tour. Last time I saw Don was in 1981 in Sierra Madre, CA. The site was moved to and will try to add info as it comes in. The terrible coincidence is that I received the new Sugarcane Anthology CD and the news of his death the same day.

Best regards,
-- Randy Resnick

Sugarcane Obit By LIONEL ROLFE
Eds: Dewey Terry can be reached at (626) 797-8011

City News Service LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Don "Sugarcane" Harris, a pioneering jazz, blues and rock violinist, has died in South Los Angeles, a longtime collaborator and friend said tonight. He was 61. Harris, a native of Pasadena, was found dead in his apartment near Broadway and 108th Street by his landlord about 10 p.m. last night, Dewey Terry said.
Harris, who lived alone, had been ill with a pulmonary disease for the last couple of years, said Terry, who wrote most of the hits they had together.
Harris and Terry became popular in the '50s, writing and performing songs such as "Coco Joe," "Justine," "Farmer John," "Big Boy Pete" and "I'm Leaving You." Donny Osmond, Neil Young and the Premieres covered some of their songs.
"Don Harris and I started in 1955 at John Muir High School in Pasadena," Terry said. The two performed with a Doo Wop group, the Squires, and formed Don & Dewey in 1956. They began recording for Specialty Records on Sunset Boulevard, which introduced Little Richard.  Terry said his first session at Specialty was for "a little A&R guy called Sonny Bono that went on to become a big hit for the Righteous Brothers. Little Cher was around then." Terry said he and Harris performed together until Harris became too ill to work. They played mostly in England and France, where they were better known in recent years than in the United States.   "I took him back East to play at that big rock 'n' roll thing with Chuck Berry and all those people in St. Louis shortly before he got sick," he recalled.

But two also played around the Southland, and Terry will perform at BB Kings at Universal CityWalk on Dec. 18.   "You'll get a chance to hear real original American music then," he said.   "The original American music was created by us way back, along with Little Richard and Elvis Presley," Terry said, his voice choking up. "I've been doing a lot of crying," he said.    He said he had been using royalties to pay for a compilation of his work with Harris with some of the city's top jazz players.    "But these record companies nowadays -- they only know stuff I wouldn't call music," he said.

Harris and Terry performed regularly with artists such as Sam Cook and Johnny Mathis for KTLA television during its early days.   In the 1970s, Harris enjoyed a resurgence in popularity when he performed with the late Frank Zappa at the old Ash Grove club on Melrose Avenue. Zappa also used him on his records.    "He had classical technique, but blues and jazz sensibilities underlying it all. He seemed to have the best of all worlds, playing in his own unique style. I've never heard anything like him before or since," said Nigey Lennon, who wrote a book about Zappa.    Barry Hansen, also known as Dr. Demento, said Harris was "one of the unsung heroes of rock 'n' roll and the pioneer of rock 'n' roll violin."   "As his career progressed, he showed a lot of versatility in being able to make music and record with a variety of people ... all the way from basic blues to Frank Zappa's brilliant and complex music," he said.

Funeral arrangement are pending. CNS-12-1-1999 20:56


Additional informants:
- computeruser
Charles Pater
- Johan Lif
- David Fairweather
- Ted Alvy
- Victor the Cleaner


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