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Memphis Slim

An amazingly prolific artist who brought a brisk air of urban sophistication to his frequently stunning presentation, John "Peter" Chatman -- better known as Memphis Slim -- assuredly ranks with the greatest blues pianists of all time. He was smart enough to take Big Bill Broonzy's early advice about developing a style to call his own to heart, instead of imitating that of his idol, Roosevelt Sykes. Soon enough, other 88s pounders were copying Slim rather than the other way around; his thundering ivories attack set him apart from most of his contemporaries, while his deeply burnished voice possessed a commanding authority.

As befits his stage name, John "Peter" Chatman was born and raised in Memphis; a great place to commit to a career as a bluesman. Sometime in the late '30s, he resettled in Chicago and began recording as a leader in 1939 for OKeh, then switched over to Bluebird the next year. Around the same time, Slim joined forces with Broonzy, then the dominant force on the local blues scene. After serving as Broonzy's invaluable accompanist for a few years, Slim emerged as his own man in 1944.

After the close of World War II, Slim joined Hy-Tone Records, cutting eight tracks that were later picked up by King. Lee Egalnick's Miracle label reeled in the pianist in 1947; backed by his jumping band, the House Rockers (its members usually included saxists Alex Atkins and Ernest Cotton), Slim recorded his classic "Lend Me Your Love" and "Rockin' the House." The next year brought the landmark "Nobody Loves Me" (better known via subsequent covers by Lowell Fulson, Joe Williams, and B.B. King as "Everyday I Have the Blues") and the heartbroken "Messin' Around (With the Blues)."

The pianist kept on label-hopping, moving from Miracle to Peacock to Premium (where he waxed the first version of his uncommonly wise down-tempo blues "Mother Earth") to Chess to Mercury before staying put at Chicago's United Records from 1952 to 1954. This was a particularly fertile period for the pianist; he recruited his first permanent guitarist, the estimable Matt Murphy, who added some serious fret fire to "The Come Back," "Sassy Mae," and "Memphis Slim U.S.A."

Before the decade was through, the pianist landed at Vee-Jay Records, where he cut definitive versions of his best-known songs with Murphy and a stellar combo in gorgeously sympathetic support (Murphy was nothing short of spectacular throughout).

Slim exhibited his perpetually independent mindset by leaving the country for good in 1962. A tour of Europe in partnership with bassist Willie Dixon a couple of years earlier had so intrigued the pianist that he permanently moved to Paris, where recording and touring possibilities seemed limitless and the veteran pianist was treated with the respect too often denied even African-American blues stars at home back then. He remained there until his 1988 death, enjoying his stature as expatriate blues royalty. ~ Bill Dahl, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

Comments

Tickle those ivories!
yeah
woooooh
from Memphis
here comes da blues!!!!!!
sharonisrael 2 0
This really works Your crush will like you if you post this on 2 other songs
sweet
Take. Back home
Fantastic walk'n bass, with that full boat boogie piano and his velvet smooth voice, sorry B.B., but THIS is Rid'n with the King, in a 1953 Cadillac Le Mans concept car .... roll'n smooth
jamesmoses46
we all goin' back 2 mother earth!!!!!!! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !
Terry sayles, thanku 4 sharing that~~~how incredibly COOL!!!!!!!! ! :-)
Great music!
terrysayles
My mom was from Memphis and this is the style she played. I remember her playing in a dive in Vegas once and a group of Hells Angels showed up. A short fat white women playing Boogie and they were butter in her hands. She was about the same age, must have been soul mates.
Memphis Blues baby!!! Yeah!!! I love Memphis in the fall!!!
Nice, very nice.
I am so glad to hear this music, such clarity of piano teck. it is real history
boogiespeed
magic 'finners', magic timin', magic voice...

ah, what a combination!
marcia_coyle
He's got his finger on the pulse HO!
a beloved blues piano juju bobo playin' a** fuuuuuu of love peace and mega happyvibe boodoo doooooo dude. grab yer bong and go back to bed. long live da blues.
this is riding in my caddy music
this guy is so smooth, i likes it !
AH, "BOOGIE JAM" IS SUPER BY OLE MEMPHIS SLIM,GREAT BEAT,GOOD BACK GROUND AS WELL,NICE,NI C E . . . .
He has the best right hand on the keyboard (and the left isn't too bad either)!
WAT UP DOG YEEEEEEEEEEE E E E E E E E E E E E E E ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !
from kev doris

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