Magic Slim was forced to give up playing the piano when he lost his little finger in a cotton gin mishap. He moved first to nearby Grenada. He first came to Chicago in 1955 with his friend and mentor Magic Sam. The elder Magic (Sam) let the younger Magic (Slim) play bass with his band and gave him his nickname.At first Slim was not rated very highly by his peers. He returned to Mississippi to work and got his younger brother Nick interested in playing bass. By 1965 he was back in Chicago and in 1970 Nick joined him in his group, the Teardrops. They played in the dim, smoke-filled juke joints popular in Chicago in the 1970s on bandstands barely large enough to hold the band.Slim's recording career began in 1966 with the song "Scufflin'", followed by a number of singles into the mid 1970s. He recorded his first album in 1977, Born Under A Bad Sign
, for the French MCM label. During the 1980s, Slim released titles on Alligator, Rooster Blues and Wolf Records and won his first W.C. Handy Award. In 1980 he recorded his cover version of "Mustang Sally".In 1982, the guitarist John Primer joined the Teardrops and stayed and played for him for 13 years. Releases include Spider in My Stew
on Wolf Records, and a 1996 Blind Pig release called Scufflin'
, which presented the post-Primer line-up with the new addition of the guitarist and singer Jake Dawson.In 1994, Slim moved to Lincoln, Nebraska where the Zoo Bar had been booking him for years. Slim was frequently accompanied by his son Shawn (Lil' Slim) Holt, an accomplished guitarist and singer.In 2003, Magic Slim and the Teardrops won the W.C. Handy Award as 'Blues Band Of The Year' for the sixth time. They released a live performance on CD and DVD in August 2005 entitled Anything Can Happen
.Slim died at a hospital in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on February 21, 2013 at age 75. He had health problems that had worsened while he was on tour several weeks earlier. His manager had stated bleeding ulcers had sent Slim to the hospital, but that he also suffered from heart, lung and kidney problems.In May 2013, Magic Slim was posthumously awarded a Blues Music Award in the 'Traditional Blues Male Artist' category.