Sunday, March 16, 2014

Jimmy Reed

Mathis James "Jimmy" Reed (September 6, 1925 – August 29, 1976)[1] was an American blues musician and songwriter, notable for bringing his distinctive style of blues to mainstream audiences. Reed was a major player in the field of electric blues, as opposed to the more acoustic-based sound of many of his contemporaries.[2] His music had a significant impact on many rock and roll artists who followed, such as Elvis Presley, Billy Gibbons and the Rolling Stones.Reed was born in Dunleith, Mississippi, in 1925, learning the harmonica and guitar from Eddie Taylor, a close friend.[3] After spending several years busking and performing in the area, Reed moved to Chicago, Illinois, in 1943 before being drafted into the US Navy during World War II. In 1945, Reed was discharged and moved back to Mississippi for a brief period, marrying his girlfriend, Mary "Mama" Reed, before moving to Gary, Indiana to work at an Armour & Co. meat packing plant. Mama Reed appears as an uncredited background singer on many of his songs, notably the major hits "Baby What You Want Me to Do", "Big Boss Man" and "Bright Lights, Big City".By the 1950s, Reed had established himself as a popular musician and joined the "Gary Kings" with John Brim, as well as playing on the street with Willie Joe Duncan. Reed failed to gain a recording contract with Chess Records, but signed with Vee-Jay Records through Brim's drummer, Albert King. At Vee-Jay, Reed began playing again with Eddie Taylor and soon released "You Don't Have to Go", his first hit record.Reed maintained his reputation despite his rampant alcoholism; sometimes his wife had to help him remember the lyrics to his songs while recording. In 1957, Reed developed epilepsy, though the condition was not correctly diagnosed for a long time, as Reed and doctors assumed it was delirium tremens. Jimmy Reed died in Oakland, California in 1976,[1] of respiratory failure,eight days short of his 51st birthday. He is interred in the Lincoln Cemetery in Worth, Illinois.In 1991 Reed was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Monday, March 3, 2014

CeDell Davis

CeDell Davis (born Ellis Davis, 9 June 1927)[1] is an American blues guitarist and singer. Davis is most notable for his distinctive style of guitar playing. Davis plays guitar using a table knife in his fretting hand in a manner similar to slide guitar, resulting in a welter of metal-stress harmonic transients and a singular tonal plasticity. He uses this style out of necessity. When he was 10, he suffered from severe polio which left him little control over his left hand and restricted use of his right.[1] He had been playing guitar prior to his polio and decided to continue in spite of his handicap, and developed his knife method as the only way he could come up with of still playing guitar. Davis was born in Helena, Arkansas, United States, where his family worked on a local plantation. He enjoyed music from a young age, playing harmonica and guitar with his childhood friends. Once he sufficiently mastered his variation on slide guitar playing, Davis began playing in various nightclubs across the Mississippi Delta area. He played with Robert Nighthawk for a ten-year period from 1953 to 1963. While playing in a club in 1957, a police raid caused the crowd to stampede over Davis. Both of his legs were broken in this incident and he was forced to use a wheelchair since that time. The hardships resulting from his physical handicaps were a major influence in his lyrics and style of blues playing. Davis moved to Pine Bluff, Arkansas in the early sixties and continued his artistic work. In recent times, Davis' music has been released by the Fat Possum Records label to much critical acclaim. His 1994 album, produced by Robert Palmer, Feel Like Doin' Something Wrong, received a 9.0 from Pitchfork Media who called it "timeless." The Best Of CeDell Davis (1995) was also released, with help from Col. Bruce Hampton and The Aquarium Rescue Unit. The Horror of It All followed in 1998. His album When Lightnin' Struck the Pine, released in 2002, included work by musicians Peter Buck, Barrett Martin, Scott McCaughey, and Alex Veley.