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John Littlejohn

John Littlejohn's stunning mastery of the slide guitar somehow never launched him into the major leagues of bluesdom. Only on a handful of occasions was the Chicago veteran's vicious bottleneck attack captured effectively on wax, but anyone who experienced one of his late-night sessions as a special musical guest on the Windy City circuit will never forget the crashing passion in his delivery. Delta-bred John Funchess first heard the blues just before he reached his teens at a fish fry where a friend of his father's named Henry Martin was playing guitar. He left home in 1946, pausing in Jackson, Mississippi; Arkansas; and Rochester, New York before winding up in Gary, Indiana. In 1951, he began inching his way into the Gary blues scene, his Elmore James-influenced slide style making him a favorite around Chicago's south suburbs in addition to steel mill-fired Gary.

Littlejohn waited an unconscionably long time to wax his debut singles for Margaret (his trademark treatment of Brook Benton's "Kiddio"), T-D-S, and Weis in 1968. But before the year was out, Littlejohn had also cut his debut album, Chicago Blues Stars, for Chris Strachwitz's Arhoolie logo. It was a magnificent debut, the guitarist blasting out a savage Chicago/Delta hybrid rooted in the early '50s rather than its actual timeframe. Unfortunately, a four-song 1969 Chess date remained in the can. After that, another long dry spell preceded Littlejohn's 1985 album So-Called Friends for Rooster Blues, an ambitious but not altogether convincing collaboration between the guitarist and a humongous horn section that sometimes grew to eight pieces. The guitarist had been in poor health for some time prior to his 1994 passing. ~ Bill Dahl
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Arhoolie 40th Anniversary Collection 1960 - 2000

Disc 1

1. San Francisco Bay Blues

2. Mercury Blues

3. Shake Shake Mama

4. Cairo Blues

6. One Thin Dime

7. Charmin' Betsy

9. I Am The Black Ace

10. Brother James

15. Bald Headed Woman

19. The Country Blues

20. Crowley Waltz

22. Ay, Ai Ai

24. Charlie James

25. Louisiana Blues

Disc 2

1. Cindy

2. Little Red Rooster

6. I Wonder Where You Are Tonight

9. Sometimes I Cry

10. Two Bugs And A Roach

11. Dream

12. Things Gonna Get Better

13. Visions

17. Please Settle In Vietnam

18. Shake 'em On Down

21. Finger Lickin' Good

Disc 3

1. Church Point Breakdown

3. Gibson Creek Shuffle

5. You Ain't Got A Chance

7. Satan's Burning Hell

8. Luzita

12. Allons A Grand Coteau

15. Fast Santa Fe (Bear Cat)

16. I'll See You In C-U-B-A

17. El Balaju

21. Ay Te Dejo En San Antonio

22. Mi Problema

Disc 4

1. Gritenme Piedras Del Campo

2. Co-Fe

3. Single Girl

4. Bee De La Manche

6. Negra Ausencia

12. Here To Stay

13. I Know That's Right

19. Hot Chili Mama

21. El Canoero

23. San Francisco Can Be Such A Lonely Town

Disc 5

5. Food Stamp Blues

6. Ain't It A Shame

8. La Mal Sentada

9. Falling For You

14. El Corrido De Esequiel Hernandez

15. What's His Name-Jesus

16. Just A Closer Walk With Thee

Comments

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Littlejohn Rocks
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As he was a Chicago slide guitarist, similar artists would be Elmore James, Homesick James and Robert NIghthawk

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