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Sunnyland Slim

Sunnyland Slim

BiographySunnyland Slim was born on a farm in Quitman County, near Vance, Mississippi (some sources erroneously give this date as 1907). He moved to Memphis, Tennessee in 1925, where he performed with many of the popular blues musicians of the day. His stage name came from a song he composed about the Sunnyland train that ran between Memphis and St. Louis, Missouri. In 1942 he followed the great migration of southern workers to the industrial north in Chicago.At that time the electric blues was taking shape there, and through the years Sunnyland Slim played with such musicians as Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, Robert Lockwood, Jr., and Little Walter. His piano style is characterised by heavy basses or vamping chords in the left hand and tremolos with his right. His voice was loud and he sang in a declamatory style.Sunnyland Slim's first recording was as a singer with Jump Jackson's band on the Specialty label in September 1946. His first recordings as a leader were on the Hy-Tone and Aristocrat labels in late 1947. Slim continued performing until his death in 1995.He released one record on RCA Victor using the moniker 'Dr. Clayton's Buddy': "Illinois Central" b/w "Sweet Lucy Blues" (Victor 20-2733).In the late 1960s, Slim became friends with Canned Heat and played piano on the track "Turpentine Moan" on the album Boogie with Canned Heat. In turn, members of Canned Heat - lead guitarist Henry Vestine, slide guitarist Alan Wilson and bassist Larry Taylor - guested on Sunnyland Slim's Liberty Records album Slim's Got His Thing Goin' On (1968), which also featured Mick Taylor.In 1988 he was awarded a National Heritage Fellowship.Sunnyland Slim died in March 1995 in Chicago, after complications from renal failure, at the age of 88.


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