Mickey Rafael is best known for his role as harmonica player for Willie Nelson, a position he has held for over thirty years.
Rafael was born in Dallas, Texas, in 1952. In 1973 he was invited to an informal jam session with Willie Nelson and Charlie Pride, among others. Nelson was so impressed with Rafael that he invited him to play a prestigious gig at New York City's Max's Kansas City, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Extraordinary harmonica techniques have been developed by players who pushed the envelope of what is possible on the instrument. Some of these include creating multiphonics (getting two pitches at once out of one hole by getting the blow and draw reeds to vibrate at once), bending the 1 draw up in pitch, and flutter tonguing (rolling Rs in your mouth while playing blow notes).
In addition to his longtime association with Nelson, Rafael has been a prolific studio musician, recording with U2, Neil Young, Elton John, Vince Gill, and Emmy Lou Harris, among others. Rafael is still an active musician playing in Nelson's band.