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Guitar Slim

New Orleans bluesman Guitar Slim (Eddie Jones) exerted an enormous influence on many modern guitarists to follow. A brilliant and underrated guitarist, Slim was also the consummate showman. He dyed his hair to match the color of his suits and used a 100-foot+ guitar cord to wander off stage into the parking lot during gigs. He lived in the fast lane and he played loudly! His 1954 hit, “ThingsThat I Used to Do,” is a timeless and important blues classic, reached the top of the R&B charts. It featured another blues legend, Ray Charles who arranged the gospel-tinged track and played piano.

Guitar Slim was born Eddie Jones in Greenwood, Mississippi on December 10, 1926. When he was five years old his mother died, and having never known his father, he was sent to Hollandale to be raised by his grandmother on the L. C. Haves plantation. Living there, he learned to make a living working in the cotton fields and plowing behind a mule.

At a young age, Eddie would spend his free time at the local juke joints in Hollandale. He began to sit in with traveling and local bands as a singer and dancer. In fact, his adept skills as a dancer earned him the nickname "Limber Legs." At the age of 18, he was working with a band fronted by Willie Warren. Bandleader Willie Warren was acknowledged as introducing Jones to the guitar. He found further influence from the Delta slide legend Robert Nighthawk, who occasionally traveled through Hollandale. Despite the wealth of Blues guitarists in Mississippi, Jones gained his true love for the instrument from the sounds he heard coming out of Texas, in particular, T-Bone Walker and Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown. And it would be Gatemouth's "Boogie Rambler" that he would use as his theme song for several years.

By 1950, Eddie Jones had already developed his wild stage act and had relocated to New Orleans. He took up the name Guitar Slim and began to experiment with newer guitar sounds that included distorted overtones (a full decade before Jimi Hendrix). He had the chance to record for the Imperial label in 1951, cutting four songs, including "Bad Luck Is On Me", but they were unsuccessful. Next, he tried the Nashville-based Bullet label in 1952, and enjoyed a mild regional hit with the single, "Feeling Sad". This brought attention from both the Atlantic and Specialty labels in 1953, who each tried to add him to their rosters. Slim signed with Specialty and his first recording with them would became his calling card for the remainder of his life.

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