Junior Parker was born in eitherClarksdale, MississippiorWest Memphis, ArkansasasHerman Parker, Jr.He sang in gospel groups as a child,and played on the various blues circuits beginning in his teenage years. His biggest influence as aharmonicaplayer wasSonny Boy Williamson,with whom he worked before moving on to work forHowlin’ Wolfin 1949. Around 1950 he was a member of Memphis’s ad hoc group, the Beale Streeters, withBobby ‘Blue’ BlandandB.B. King.
In 1951 he formed his own band, the Blue Flames, with guitarist Auburn ‘Pat’ Hare.Parker was discovered in 1952 byIke Turner, who signed him toModern Records. He put out one single on thisrecord label, “You’re My Angel.”This brought him to the attention ofSam Phillips, and he and his band signed ontoSun Recordsin 1953. There they produced three successful songs: “Feelin’ Good” (which reached # 5 on theBillboard R&B charts), “Love My Baby,” and “Mystery Train” ,with Floyd Murphy (Matt “Guitar” Murphy’s brother) on guitar, latercoveredbyElvis Presley.For Presley’s version of “Mystery Train”,Scotty Mooreborrowed the guitar riff from Parker’s “Love My Baby”.
Later in 1953, Parker toured with Bobby Bland andJohnny Ace, and also joinedDuke Records. Parker and Bland headed the highly successful Blues Consolidated Revue, which became a staple part of the southern blues circuit. He continued to have a string of hits on the R&B chart, including the smooth “Next Time You See Me”; re-makes ofRoosevelt Sykes’songs, “Sweet Home Chicago” and “Driving Wheel”;Guitar Slim‘s “The Things That I Used to Do“;Don Robey’s“Mother-in-Law Blues”; and his own “Stand by Me.”