(December 10, 1926 – February 7, 1959), better known as Guitar Slim
, was a New Orleans blues guitarist, from the 1940s and 1950s, best known for the million-selling song, produced by Johnny Vincent at Specialty Records, "The Things That I Used to Do". It is a song that is listed in The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll. Slim had a major impact on rock and roll and experimented with distorted overtones on the electric guitar a full decade before Jimi Hendrix.Early lifeEddie "Guitar Slim" Jones was born in Greenwood, Mississippi, United States. His mother died when he was five, and his grandmother raised him, as he spent his teen years in the cotton fields. He spent his free time at the local juke joints and started sitting in as a singer or dancer; he was good enough to be nicknamed "Limber Leg."
After returning from World War II military service, he started playing clubs around New Orleans, Louisiana. Bandleader Willie D. Warren introduced him to the guitar, and he was particularly influenced by T-Bone Walker and Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown. About 1950 he adopted the stage name 'Guitar Slim' and started becoming known for his wild stage act. He wore bright-colored suits and dyed his hair to match them, had an assistant follow him around the audience with up to 350 feet of cord between amplifier and guitar, and would occasionally get up on his assistant's shoulders, or even take his guitar outside the club and bring traffic to a stop. His sound was just as unusual — he was playing with distorted guitar more than a decade before rock guitarists did the same, and his gospel-influenced vocals were easily identifiable.He got together with Muddy Waters in Los Angeles, California for some lively playing.
His first recording session was in 1951, and he had a minor rhythm and blues hit in 1952 with "Feelin' Sad", which Ray Charles covered. His biggest success was "The Things That I Used to Do" (1954). The song, produced by a young Ray Charles, was released on Art Rupe's Specialty Records label. The song spent weeks at number one on the R&B charts and sold over a million copies, soon becoming a blues standard. It also contributed to the development of soul music.He recorded on a few labels, including Imperial, Bullet, Specialty, and Atco. The recordings made in 1954 and 1955 for Specialty are his best.
His career having faded, Guitar Slim became an alcoholic, and then died of pneumonia in New York City at age 32. Guitar Slim is buried in a small cemetery in Thibodaux, Louisiana, where his manager, Hosea Hill, resided.
Buddy Guy, Albert Collins and Frank Zappa were influenced by Slim. So was Jimi Hendrix, who recorded a version of "The Things That I Used to Do" with Steve Stills on bass guitar in 1969. Stevie Ray Vaughan recorded a cover version of "The Things That I Used to Do".One of Slim's sons bills himself as Guitar Slim, Jr. around the New Orleans circuit, and his repertoire is heavily reliant on his father's material.