I’ll have to admit that I had never heard of this guy until today when I saw the announcement of his passing over at Huffpo.
I have always been a huge Blues fan and this gentleman was the real deal. His kind are slowly dying out but have left us a legacy of great music that will never die.
Magic Slim, a younger contemporary of blues greats Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf who helped shape the sound of Chicago’s electric blues, died Thursday. He was 75.
He died shortly after midnight Thursday at a Philadelphia hospital, said his manager, Marty Salzman. The musician had health problems that worsened while he was on tour several weeks ago in Pennsylvania, Salzman said.
Magic Slim and his backing band, the Teardrops, performed a no-holds-barred brand of Chicago-style electric blues, led by his singing and guitar playing, and were regulars on the music festival circuit.
Slim’s given name was Morris Holt. The Mississippi native established himself in Chicago’s thriving blues community in the 1960s, but more recently lived in Lincoln, Neb.
“If you were going to take somebody who’d never seen blues to one of their shows, it would be like putting them in a time machine and putting them in 1962,” Salzman said. “No frills, no rock `n’ roll. It was just straight-ahead, real-deal blues.”
Holt came by the sound authentically. Born in Torrance, Miss., in 1937, he grew up in the cotton fields of the Mississippi Delta. His first love was piano, but he lost the little finger on his right hand to a cotton gin and switched to guitar. Like many of his contemporaries, he started out on a one-string instrument he made by nailing a piece of wire stolen from a broom to the wall.
He moved to Grenada at age 11 and met Magic Sam, an older guitarist and influential blues figure. Sam taught him about the instrument and gave him his first job as a bass player years later when he first moved to Chicago.
The music is clean and no frills. No gimmicks, fancy electronic sound effects or distracting light shows.
If you were lucky enough to have seen this straight up blues band, it is surely something you will always remember.
Rest In Peace, Magic Slim.