Lightning Slim

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Today is the birthday of Lightning Slim (1913-1974). While cited by many critics as one of the top bluesmen of all time, he has not fared well in the public’s memory, possibly due to the similarity of his stage name to those of both Lightnin’ Hopkins and Slim Harpo (the latter was his brother-in-law). Born Otis V. Hicks, he moved from his native St. Louis to Baton Rouge at age 13. He began playing professionally by the late 40s and began a 12 year recording career in the mid 1950s. He retired for a time in the mid to late 60s to work in a Michigan foundry, then re-emerged during the blues revival in 1970. He died of stomach cancer 4 years later.

Here’s his 1954 “It’s Mighty Crazy”. Slim’s frequent collaborator Lazy Lester is on harp:

To find out more about the variety arts past and present, consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.

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And don’t miss my new book Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, just released by Bear Manor Media, also available from amazon.com etc etc etc

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