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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: Slidin' Home

1. What In The World You Goin' To Do

2. Treat Me Wrong

3. Catfish Blues

4. Kiddeo

5. Slidin' Home

6. Dream

7. Reelin' And Rockin'

8. Been Around The World

9. How Much More Long

10. Shake Your Money Maker

11. I'm Tired

12. Nowhere To Lay My Head

x

Track List: Dream

1. Rob And Steal

2. Five Long Years

3. Reconsider Baby

4. Twelve Years Old Boy

5. Kiddeo

6. Dream

7. That's All Right

8. I Can't Stay Here

9. Bobby's Rock

10. Dust My Broom

11. Twenty Nine Ways

12. I Don't Know What Love Is

13. I Play The Blues For You

14. Maybe I Don't Know

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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