Henry Oden was born February 8, 1947 in Oakland, California and grew-up in Richmond California. Henry’s father bought him his first guitar when he was 15. He soon started to receive guitar instruction from Jimmy McCraklin’s guitarist, Robert Kelton. Within one year of his first lesson, Henry was in a band and soon switched to playing bass.

During the past 40 years Henry has accompanied a whose who of blues greats. He has backed Jimmy Reed, Freddie King, Big Mama Thornton, and Mike Bloomfield. True to the West Coast style of blues, Henry has backed Bill Withers, Pee Wee Crayton, Lowell Folsom, Percy Mayfield, and L. C. “Good Rockin” Robinson.

During the 60’s, Henry was a bassist with a Berkeley based funk, soul-rock band, “Loading Zone” and went on to record with the “Zones’” lead singer Linda Tillery when the group disbanded.

During the 70’s, Henry’s attention turned to song writing and composing. He undertook studies in music composition and creative writing at Oakland’s Laney College. Henry also toured with legendary Texas blues guitarist Freddie King and performed with the house band at the El Cid on San Francisco’s Broadway Strip.

In 1980, Oden joined Mark Naftilin’s Blue Monday Party Band. The band would go on to appear at numerious festivals and make several documentaries. Henry left the band in 1982 and made his first international tour with the San Francisco Blues Festival and had several of his compositions recorded on the Encore Label by J.J. Malone and Troyce Keyes.

In 1984, Henry received a phone call from Joe Louis Walker regarding a band being put together to back Earl King and Johnny Adams. July 1985 found Henry touring Canada and Japan with the Crescent City Duo.

Pictured right are Joe Louis Walker & The Boss Talkers in 1986 - Joe Louis Walker, Henry Oden, Kevin Zuffi and Steve Griffith. Henry recorded several albums with JLW between 1986 and 1994 and also wrote some of the recorded songs himself - see JLW entry for further info.

During the next 6 years Henry would produce a blues program at an elementary school in his neighborhood, teach in Oakland’s “Blues in the Schools” program, and appear in several documentaries including "Keisha Words to Live By", Clifton Chenier’s “King of the Zydeco”, Percy Mayfield, “Poet Laureate of the Blues”, "Survivors", “Blues in America Today”, and "The Blue Monday Party" staring Lowell Folsom, Charlie Musslewhite, John Lee Hooker and Percy Mayfield.

In 1990, Oden received the “Bassist of the Year” award from the Bay Area Blues Society and parted company with Joe Louis Walker. He then moved to Canada and performed as a street musician by day, taught guitar and bass while writing and producing biographical material on himself at night. In late 1992, Henry returned to the Bay Area, and began performing with local country bands. He also returned to the trade of street musician with the legendary “Big Bones” and finished the recording project he had started in Canada. In early 1993, Joe Walker contacted Henry asking him to rejoin his efforts and assist in his forthcoming album. He agreed, leading to two of his compositions being featured on the album.

By 1996, Henry had parted company with Walker once again. This time he was headed to Arkansas as an Artist in Residence for the Wildwood Center for Performing Arts for the Every Person is Creative Program in El Dorado Arkansas Schools. While in El Dorado, Henry found his musical knowledge being sought after and was hired to teach guitar at the South Arkansas Cultural Center.

Henry pulled out of Arkansas after the 1996-97 school year. During the remainder of 1997 he briefly toured, recorded and appeared in documentaries with Sonny Rhodes.

During the past 4 years, Henry has been, a member of “Blues Beat”, the house band at John Lee Hookers Boom Boom Room, the inspiration and motivation behind Craig Horton’s In My Spirit on the Bad Daddy label, recorded with Jimmy Dawkins, Pete Sears, and Betty Joplin, appeared with Tracey Nelson, and Jimmy Johnson, toured Canada and Japan with Maria Mulduar, while pursuing degrees in Liberal Arts at Vista Community College and Humanities at New College of California.


  Joe Louis Walker & The Boss Talkers

Henry Oden, Photo by P.L. Biagi

Henry Oden, Photo by Maria Bainer

99% of the text above has been taken from Henry's website as all the info is in it and why change something good? Thanks to Henry for letting me use it. Only thing left to say is that I highly recommend to buy Henry's latest album which he released in 2004. All of the songs on the CD have been written by Henry and are a mix between Soul, R&B and Blues. As Henry Oden belongs to the greatest blues bassists ever the album is a must for all blues lovers.



  • 1996 More Bay Area Blues, V.A.
  • 2004 Henry Oden

    Henry OdenVarious Artists
    More Bay Area Blues

    (Taxim Records 1996)
    Bay Area Blues compilation (Volume 2) featuring:

    Henry Oden - "Shade Tree Mechanic"

    Henry Oden (guitars, bass, vocals); Morgan Smith (sax); Phil Whipper (drums)

    Recorded at Leo's Productions, Victoric, Canada; Engineered by Simon King; Produced by Henry Oden

    Other artists on this compilation: Gary Smith Blues Band, Kenny "Blue" Ray, Nick Gravenites, Wendy DeWitt and Blue Saloon, John "Bradway" Tucker & The Broadway Band, Harvey Mandel, Lisa Kindred & Chris Goddard, Mike Henderson Blues Band, Chuck Vincent & Shuffle, Bluejeans, Mike Wilhelm, Doug Jay, Stu Blank, Mark Naftalin

    from TAXIM!
    Henry OdenHenry Oden
    Henry Oden

    (CP Time Music 2004)
    You Just Don't Know Me -- Best Choice -- Madame Zorra & Sister Rose -- 71730 -- Book Of Lies -- Even If It's Wrong -- On Me -- I Didn't Mean -- Rock

    Musicians: Henry Oden (vocals/bass), Paul Revelli (drums), Mike Eppley (keyboards), Tim Devine (sax), Geoff Louis (trumpet), David ??? (guitar)

    The CD has been released with a different artwork for some time - if you hold the mouse over the cover picture you can see the old artwork.

    from Globe Records


    Further Links:

  • Henry Oden
        Official Website - feel free to contact Henry.

  • Henry Oden @ MySpace
        Another way to get in touch with Henry.


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