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Slim Harpo

In the large stable of blues talent that Crowley, LA, producer Jay Miller recorded for the Nashville-based Excello label, no one enjoyed more mainstream success than Slim Harpo. Just a shade behind Lightnin' Slim in local popularity, Harpo played both guitar and neck-rack harmonica in a more down-home approximation of Jimmy Reed, with a few discernible, and distinctive, differences. Harpo's music was certainly more laid-back than Reed's, if such a notion was possible. But the rhythm was insistent and, overall, Harpo was more adaptable than Reed or most other bluesmen. His material not only made the national charts, but also proved to be quite adaptable for white artists on both sides of the Atlantic, including the Rolling Stones, Yardbirds, Kinks, Dave Edmunds with Love Sculpture, Van Morrison with Them, Sun rockabilly singer Warren Smith, Hank Williams, Jr., and the Fabulous Thunderbirds.

A people-pleasing club entertainer, he certainly wasn't above working rock & roll rhythms into his music, along with hard-stressed, country & western vocal inflections. Several of his best tunes were co-written with his wife Lovelle and show a fine hand for song construction, appearing to have arrived at the studio pretty well formed. His harmonica playing was driving and straightforward, full of surprising melody, while his vocals were perhaps best described by writer Peter Guralnick as "if a black country & western singer or a white rhythm & blues singer were attempting to impersonate a member of the opposite genre." And here perhaps was Harpo's true genius, and what has allowed his music to have a wider currency. By the time his first single became a Southern jukebox favorite, his songs were being adapted and played by white musicians left and right. Here was good-time Saturday-night blues that could be sung by elements of the Caucasian persuasion with a straight face. Nothing resembling the emotional investment of a Howlin' Wolf or a Muddy Waters was required; it all came natural and easy, and its influence has stood the test of time.

He was born James Moore just outside of Baton Rouge, LA. After his parents died, he dropped out of school to work every juke joint, street corner, picnic, and house rent party that came his way. By this time he had acquired the alias of Harmonica Slim, which he used until his first record was released. It was fellow bluesman Lightnin' Slim who first steered him to local recordman J.D. Miller. The producer used him as an accompanist to Hopkins on a half-dozen sides before recording him on his own. When it came time to release his first single ("I'm a King Bee"), Miller informed him that there was another Harmonica Slim recording on the West Coast, and a new name was needed before the record could come out. Moore's wife took the slang word for harmonica, added an "o" to the end of it, and a new stage name was the result, one that would stay with Slim Harpo the rest of his career.

Harpo's first record became a double-sided R&B hit, spawning numerous follow-ups on the "King Bee" theme, but even bigger was "Rainin' in My Heart," which made the Billboard Top 40 pop charts in the summer of 1961. It was another perfect distillation of Harpo's across-the-board appeal, and was immediately adapted by country, Cajun, and rock & roll musicians; anybody could play it and sound good doing it. In the wake of the Rolling Stones covering "I'm a King Bee" on their first album, Slim had the biggest hit of his career in 1966 with "Baby, Scratch My Back." Harpo described it "as an attempt at rock & roll for me," and its appearance in Billboard's Top 20 pop charts prompted the dance-oriented follow-ups "Tip on In" and "Tee-Ni-Nee-Ni-Nu," both R&B charters. For the first time in his career, Harpo appeared in such far-flung locales as Los Angeles and New York City. Flush with success, he contacted Lightnin' Slim, who was now residing outside of Detroit, MI. The two reunited and formed a band, touring together as a sort of blues mini-package to appreciative white rock audiences until the end of the decade. The new year beckoned with a tour of Europe (his first ever) all firmed up, and a recording session scheduled when he arrived in London. Unexplainably, Harpo -- who had never been plagued with any ailments stronger than a common cold -- suddenly succumbed to a heart attack on January 31, 1970. ~ Cub Koda
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Slim Harpo: The Excello Singles Anthology

Disc 1

1. I'm A King Bee

2. I Got Love If You Want It

3. Wondering And Worryin'

4. Strange Love

5. You'll Be Sorry One Day

6. One More Day

7. Buzz Me Babe

8. Late Last Night

9. Blues Hangover

10. What A Dream

11. Don't Start Cryin' Now

12. Rain' In My Heart

13. I Love The Life I'm Living

14. Buzzin'

15. I Need Money (Keep Your Alibis)

16. Little Queen Bee (Got A Brand New King)

17. Still Rainin' In My Heart

18. We're Two Of A Kind

19. Sittin' Here Wondering

20. What's Goin' On Baby

21. Harpo's Blues

22. Please Don't Turn Me Down

Disc 2

1. Baby Scratch My Back

2. I'm Gonna Miss You (Like The Devil)

3. Shake Your Hips

4. Midnight Blues

5. I'm Your Bread Maker, Baby

6. Loving You (The Way I Do)

7. Tip On In (Part 1)

8. Tip On In (Part 2)

9. I'm Gonna Keep What I've Got

10. I've Got To Be With You Tonight

11. Te-Ni-Nee-Ni-Nu

12. Mailbox Blues

13. Mohair Sam

14. I Just Can't Leave You

15. That's Why I Love You

16. Just For You

17. Folsom Prison Blues

18. Mutual Friend

19. I've Got My Finger On Your Trigger

20. The Price Is Too High

22. Jody Man

x

Track List: The Best Of Slim Harpo

1. I'm A King Bee

2. I've Got Love If You Want It

3. Wonderin' And Worryin'

4. You'll Be Sorry One Day

5. Strange Love

6. Bobby Sox Baby

7. One More Day

8. Rainin' In My Heart

9. Blues Hangover

10. Buzzin'

11. Still Rainin' In My Heart

12. Snoopin' Around

13. Te-Ni-Nee-Ni-Nu

14. Tip On In, Part 1

15. Shake Your Hips

16. Baby, Scratch My Back

x

Track List: Sting It Then!

1. Star-Time Announcement (Live)

2. I'm A King Bee (Live)

3. Buzzin' (Live)

4. I Got Love If You Want It (Live)

5. You Know I Love You (Live)

6. Lottie Mo (Live)

8. Big Boss Man (Live)

9. Hold Me Tenderly (Live)

10. I'll Take Care Of You (Live)

11. Boogie Chillun (Live)

12. Moody Blues (Live)

13. Sugar Coated Love (Live)

14. Star-Time Theme (Live)

15. I'm A King Bee (Live)

16. I Don't Play (Live)

17. I Got Love If You Want It (Live)

18. Little Liza Jane (Live)

19. When The Saints Go Marchin' In (Live)

20. Rainin' In My Heart (Live)

x

Track List: Tip On In

1. Tip On In (Part 1)

2. Tip On In (Part 2)

3. I'm Gonna Keep What I've Got

4. I've Got To Be With You Tonight

5. Mailbox Blues

6. Te-Ni-Nee-Ni-Nu

7. Mohair Sam

8. I Just Can't Leave You

9. That's Why I Love You

10. Just For You

15. Folsom Prison Blues

16. Mutual Friend

17. I've Got My Finger On Your Trigger

18. The Price Is Too High

19. Jody Man

x

Track List: Raining In My Heart

1. Rainin' In My Heart

2. Blues Hangover

3. Bobby-Sox Baby

4. I Got Love If You Want It

5. Snoopin' Around

6. Buzz Me, Baby

7. I'm A King Bee

8. What A Dream

9. Don't Start Cryin' Now

10. Moody Blues

11. My Home Is A Prison

12. Dream Girl

13. My Little Queen Bee

14. Late Last Night

15. Tip On In, Pt. 2

Comments

Report as inappropriate
As a white boy, no insult meant, 99% of brown, black, afro-America n s especially the Slims are into BIG legs, butts, booties, boobs, women of all kinds! As a teen growing up it was waist size, bikini profile! I am, at 60+, too! 8)
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Sure enough the real deal great style plays it smooth
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I had all of Slim Harpo's singles and one album before I entered the military in 1962. Putting that into perspective, I lived in rural Kansas. It was a journey and adventure going into the city to search for any records by black artists. Harpo and Jimmy Reed were instrumental in introducing me to the blues.
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I still like Lightnin ' Slim, but he did not do as much good material after his stay at the Excello Record label....but his best is the best, with vocals for anyone in this hard-driving blues genre Too much repetition of the same material as his motion moved forward. Slim Harpo was a great asset to him, also on the Excello Record label.
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Starting a new band "Long Black Caddy" call for all positions (22 5-284-3101)
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Purely at its finest form.
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I am sitting in a back street bar.....this music is playing in the background, , had some shots of Shine and Lone Star for a chaser.... Oh what a night that was?
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very NICE and COMFORTING.. .
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Lazy Lester is another swamp blues artist with a Jimmy Reed vibe that I highly recommend checking out.
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There it is.
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jtcpro
the real blues
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Great blues artist! The Slim family of blues artists seem to be quite cool! \m/
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jrizzy_50
Play on Playa' "talk to me Harpo"
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lol yeah
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i love all blues singers' i woke up @ my computer@3 am & saw i was asked if i was still listing ,,& I WAS THAT IS WHAT WOKE ME UP''';;; BECAUSE MY MUSIC STOPPED ....... so i'm awake now listening to the best ....
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yow
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Funny song ;)
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What u know bout that?
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teegiroir
Reminds me of my brother Larry who used to play his guitar in the back bedroom! He sang Slim Harpo and Jimmy Reed songs and was awesome! Miss him so....
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listened to this when I was kid on an old AM radio.....go t me into the blues along with many others!
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Never heard of him but I really like his style
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Billy Lee Riley should be noted as well...
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Tiponin woo woo.
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U the man Mr.Harpo.
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YES
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BLUES FOREVERTRUE WORDS SPOKEN
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jackson.ron3
the man who got me into the blues...grea t stuff!
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mrschaffins
just got to love him!
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cool stuff
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boogiespeed
the tops!
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Played blues the only way that blues should be played, with nothing but class.RIP MR. HARPO
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jones8674
love jimmy reed good music
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jones8674
lovemr slim harpo!
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love Mr Slim Harpo!
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love the real blues
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Me2
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wonderful music
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Just the best bluesman ever
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kirchnerteam 8
nothing like the old bluesmen.Pur e soulful
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"I don't know why anyone would want to hear me sing King Bee when they could listen to Slim Harpo" - Mick Jagger on the Stone's version of 'King Bee'.
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" MAN THIS IS GOOD OLD BLUES " GOOD BEAT, FOOT TAPPIN' MUSIC.. MR. F. THOMAS CLARK
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taco bell...we all love good music....alo h a tommyt.
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The haunting "swamp blues" sound was born with "I'm A King Bee" and has never been better expressed than with Slim Harpo. He was so identifiable with his voice and style than anyone else. He WAS a King Bee.
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the best blues man. 1963 i was a kid and i know i need to play the ax.
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I hate the regurgetated white boy blues, thank god for Slim & Hound Dog Taylor!
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gnace4
Baby Scratch My Back ;) anytime at all :D
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Love his music!!! especially the harmonica!
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SRATCH MY BACK LISTEN TO THAT SONG AND TELL ME ABOUT IT
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His "I'm a King Bee" is the most haunting and unique blues recording ever made. However I've never heard it played by any band where the guitarist is capable of leaving the solo as is. They feel compelled to complicate and make it "fancy". Please LEAVE IT ALONE!
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looking forward to more from slim harpo :)
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