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Morris Holt (August 7, 1937 – February 21, 2013), known as Magic Slim, was an American blues singer and guitarist. Born at Torrance, near Grenada, Mississippi, the son of sharecroppers, he followed blues greats such as Muddy Waters and Howling Wolf to Chicago, developing his own place in the Chicago blues scene.
Magic Slim was forced to give up playing the piano when he lost his little finger in a cotton gin mishap. He moved first to nearby Grenada. He first came to Chicago in 1955 with his friend and mentor Magic Sam. The elder Magic (Sam) let the younger Magic (Slim) play bass with his band and gave him his nickname.
At first Slim was not rated very highly by his peers. He returned to Mississippi to work and got his younger brother Nick interested in playing bass. By 1965 he was back in Chicago and in 1970 Nick joined him in his group, the Teardrops. They played in the dim, smoke-filled juke joints popular in Chicago in the 1970s on bandstands barely large enough to hold the band.
Slim's recording career began in 1966 with the song "Scufflin'", followed by a number of singles into the mid 1970s. He recorded his first album in 1977, Born Under A Bad Sign, for the French MCM label. During the 1980s, Slim released titles on Alligator, Rooster Blues and Wolf Records and won his first W.C. Handy Award. In 1980 he recorded his cover version of "Mustang Sally".
In 1982, the guitarist John Primer joined the Teardrops and stayed and played for him for 13 years. Releases include Spider in My Stew on Wolf Records, and a 1996 Blind Pig release called Scufflin', which presented the post-Primer line-up with the new addition of the guitarist and singer Jake Dawson.
In 1994, Slim moved to Lincoln, Nebraska where the Zoo Bar had been booking him for years. Slim was frequently accompanied by his son Shawn (Lil' Slim) Holt, an accomplished guitarist and singer.
In 2003, Magic Slim and the Teardrops won the W.C. Handy Award as 'Blues Band Of The Year' for the sixth time. They released a live performance on CD and DVD in August 2005 entitled Anything Can Happen.
Slim died at a hospital in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on February 21, 2013 at age 75. He had health problems that had worsened while he was on tour several weeks earlier. His manager had stated bleeding ulcers had sent Slim to the hospital, but that he also suffered from heart, lung and kidney problems.
In May 2013, Magic Slim was posthumously awarded a Blues Music Award in the 'Traditional Blues Male Artist' category.
Magic Slim & the Teardrops proudly upheld the tradition of what a Chicago blues band should sound like. Their emphasis on ensemble playing and a humongous repertoire that allegedly ranged upwards of a few hundred songs gave the towering guitarist's live performances an endearing off-the-cuff quality: you never knew what obscurity he'd pull out of his oversized hat next. Born Morris Holt on August 7, 1937, the Mississippi native was forced to give up playing the piano when he lost his little finger in a cotton gin mishap. Boyhood pal Magic Sam bestowed his magical moniker on the budding guitarist. Holt first came to Chicago in 1955, but found that breaking into the competitive local blues circuit was a tough proposition. Although he managed to secure a steady gig for a while with Robert Perkins' band (Mr. Pitiful & the Teardrops), Slim wasn't good enough to progress into the upper ranks of Chicago bluesdom.
So he retreated to Mississippi for a spell to hone his chops.
When he returned to Chicago in 1965 (with brothers Nick and Lee Baby as his new rhythm section), Slim's detractors were quickly forced to change their tune. Utilizing the Teardrops name and holding onto his Magic Slim handle, the big man cut a couple of 45s for Ja-Wes and established himself as a formidable force on the South Side. His guitar work dripped vibrato-enriched nastiness and his roaring vocals were as gruff and uncompromising as anyone's on the scene. All of a sudden, the recording floodgates opened up for the Teardrops in 1979 after they cut four tunes for Alligator's Living Chicago Blues anthology series. After that, a series of tough-as-nails albums for Rooster Blues, Alligator, and a slew for the Austrian Wolf logo fattened Slim's discography considerably.
the Teardrops weathered a potentially devastating change when longtime second guitarist John Primer cut his own major-label debut for Code Blue, but with Slim and bass-wielding brother Nick Holt still on board, it became doubtful that the quartet's overall sound would change dramatically in Primer's absence. In 1996, Slim signed with Blind Pig and cut some of the most celebrated albums of his career, including Scufflin' in 1996, Black Tornado in 1998, Snakebite in 2000, and Blue Magic in 2002. A live recording taped in 2005 at the Sierra Nevada Brewery was released that same year on both DVD and CD as Anything Can Happen. Tin Pan Alley, a set of recordings made between 1992 and 1998 in Chicago and Europe, was released in 2006 by Austria's Wolf Records. Midnight Blues appeared in 2008, followed by Raising the Bar in 2010. Bad Boy, a collection of covers given the Magic Slim makeover, hit the streets in 2012. However, while on tour with the Teardrops in January 2013, Slim experienced breathing difficulties and was hospitalized first in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania and then in Philadelphia; he died there on February 20, 2013 at the age of 75.
01. That's All Right
02. Josephine's (instr)
03. As the Years Go Passing By
04. Everything Gonna Be Alright
05. Let Me Love You (aka Truckload Of Lovin')
06. The Things I Used To Do
07. That Ain't Right
08. Honest I Do
09. Nineteen Years Old
10. Mary Lou
11. Please Love Me