Personalities | Memphis Slim | Forties | Jazz & Blues

(Piano, vocals, 1915–88)

John Len Chatman was born in Memphis, Tennessee. Influenced by barrelhouse pianists such as Roosevelt Sykes, Slim forged an early career in Memphis playing in cafes, juke joints and other music venues around the Beale Street area. He moved to Chicago in 1937, where he worked with Big Bill Broonzy. He began recording in 1940 and formed his band, the House Rockers, after the Second World War. Slim recorded with several different record labels throughout the 1940s and 1950s and formed successful working partnerships with musicians such as Matt Murphy and Willie Dixon. He had several hits on the Miracle label in 1948–49, including ‘Messin’ Around’ and ‘Blue And Lonesome’.

A prolific recording artist and first-rate blues pianist, Slim was also a songwriter who wrote most of his own material, including the oft-covered blues standard ‘Every Day I Have The Blues’. He went to Europe in 1962 with the American Folk Blues Festival and settled in Paris, where he continued to tour and record until his death.

Styles & Forms | Forties | Jazz & Blues
Personalities | Amos Milburn | Forties | Jazz & Blues

Source: The Definitive Illustrated Encyclopedia of Jazz & Blues, founding editor Howard Mandel


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