RIP, Chicago bluesman Magic Slim

Magic Slim, the Mississippi native guitarist and singer born Morris Holt who was a standard bearer for Chicago blues for decades, has died. He was 75. 

The bluesman died early Thursday morning at Thomas Jefferson University hospital, according to his manager Marty Salzman. He died after undergoing surgery to repair a bleeding ulcer, his son Shawn Holt told the Chicago Tribune.


Slim, who was born in Torrance, Mississippi and grew up in nearby Grenada, Mississippi, began playing guitar after a childhood accident with a cotton gin caused him to lose a pinky finger and give up playing piano. A 6 foot 6 man who wore a trademark cowboy hat, Slim was a broad and imposing figure on the bandstand who was given his ironic nickname by his childhood friend Magic Sam.

He was by no means one of the Missisippi blues originators - he emigrated to Chicago in 1955, didn't start recording until 1966, and founded his long time band, the Teardrops, the next year. But the booming-voiced blues man was one of the music's most effectively dependable practictioners, specializing in raw, slow building grooves that worked their way from simmer to boil in three or four set marathon evenings in Chicago blues clubs or out on the road.

In 1990, Slim began recording for Chicago's Blind Pig label, with whom he released 10 albums, the most recent of which, Baby Boy, came out in August. On the label's web site yesterday, Blind Pig owner Jerry Del Giudice said, "Magic Slim embodied the heart and soul of this label. It was Magic Slim and the guys like him, their music, that inspired us to start the label in the first place."

Slim, who recently had lived in Lincoln, Nebraska, suffered from a variety of health ailments. He was initially hospitalized in Pottstown before a scheduled Harrisburg concert date earlier this month, before being transported to Jefferson for surgery, according to his manager, Salzman. He is survived by his wife, Ann Holt, as well as four sons and one daughter. Funeral and memorial service arrangments are pending.

"Going To Mississppi" is below.

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