Published: Sunday, November 1, 2009 at 11:41 a.m.
Blues harmonica virtuoso Norton Buffalo died Friday, following a brief battle with lung cancer.
Buffalo, 58, learned in September he had cancer and was attempting to beat the disease. Friends learned he went into a coma Thursday night and then died Friday afternoon, said Bill Bowker, a longtime Sonoma County DJ and music promoter and longtime acquaintance of Buffalo’s.
“He was really a master of the harmonica,” said Bowker on Sunday. “For years he was a mainstay of Sonoma County music scene here. We all had hopes that he could beat it.”
“He was just one of these wonderful characters we’ve had and been blessed with in Sonoma County,” Bowker said.
Buffalo had been posting updates on his fight with the illness on his website, including information that the cancer was at an advanced stage and had spread to his brain.
Buffalo played rock for years with the Steve Miller Band in the 70s, but had the ability to play many genres, with an emphasis on blues, rock and honky tonk. He toured this summer with Steve Miller and had many plans in the works when he learned he was sick, according to his website.
Buffalo and his family had lived in Glen Ellen until a few years ago when he moved to Paradise, near Chico.
“He was back in town so often. He played with Roy Rogers often at the Mystic [in Petaluma]. We did see him often,” said Bowker.
Bowker, who offers a blues show on Sunday nights on KRSH, 95.9 FM, said he’d be dedicating time to Buffalo tonight.
“I’ll be playing some old shows he did…I’m going to play the bluesy side of what he did,” said Bowker.
BUFFALO, Norton (Philip Charles Jackson)
Born: 9/28/1951, Oakland, California, U.S.A.
Died: 10/30/2009, Paradise, California, U.S.A.
Norton Buffalo's western - actor:
Heaven's Gate - 1908 (Private)