New Orleans’ Blues and Rock Showman: Guitar Slim

0 Posted by - January 16, 2022 - BLACK MEN, BLACK MUSIC

Born December 1926 in Greenwood, Mississippi, Eddie Jones would eventually move to New Orleans and achieve greater fame as blues and rock guitarist Guitar Slim.

Before moving to New Orleans, he worked the cotton fields with his family and would go to clubs in the evening. It was in these local haunts that he developed as a singer and dancer, earning the nickname “Limber Leg.”  In his teens, he entered the military in World War II. After returning, Jones headed to New Orleans and began playing in clubs there.


Playing Style and Stage Performance

In the late 1940s, he learned guitar from guitarist and singer Willie D. Warren. Having the basics down, he tweaked his style based on T-Bone Walker and Gatemouth. Now taking the stage name Guitar Slim, he would also play guitar with distortion decades before hard rock and psychedelic rock musicians did the same. Vocally, he was inspired by gospel music in the same way that Screamin’ Jay was inspired by opera.

Guitar Slim made a name for himself for his high-energy performances, bright stage attire, and dyed hair. He would also play guitar into the crowd thanks to an assistant carrying a long cord for mobility.

He recorded with a number of musicians during the early 1950s. Guitar Slim managed one hit with “Feelin’ Sad,” covered by Ray Charles. Two years later, he had his greatest success with 1954’s “The Things That I Used To Do” which was produced by Ray Charles. It sold millions and is one of the blues songs that had a major influence on soul.


Death and Influence

By the late 1950s, his career had peaked. He took to alcohol and in February 1959, he died of pneumonia in New York at 32-years old. The artists he influenced in the decades after his death include Jimi Hendrix, Frank Zappa, and Stevie Ray Vaughan among others.

His son, Rodney Armstrong, began performing in the early 1970s as Guitar Slim Jr. He continues to play today.

-”The Things I Used To Do”:

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