Memphis Slim was an American blues pianist, singer and composer who led a series of bands across his career.

Born John Len Chapman in Memphis, Tenessee (which is where he got his stage name from), Memphis Slim took after his musical dad pretty quickly. By the 1930’s, he was playing piano right across town in dance halls, gambling joints and honky-tonks; the kind of places cowboys like to drink a beer!

After WWII Slim started to play in bands with saxophones, bass and drums, and by the end of the 1940’s released some big hits. His song “Every Day I Have the Blues” is now a blues ‘standard’, which means it’s still played by blues musicians all around the world today.

Memphis Slim spent his old-age living in Paris, France, and by the end of his life had made over 500 recordings!

Working in his bands, Memphis Slim primarily wrote in a style we now call ‘jump blues’. This up-tempo style was very popular in the 1940’s, and eventually became what today we call good old ‘rock and roll’.

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Memphis Slim: Broke and Hungry

Minutes by Memphis Slim