One of the great lost blues figures, New Orleans’ Guitar Slim (real name Eddie Jones) was an electric guitar pioneer. He was also a flashy dresser, an inveterate womaniser and a master showman.
His guitar had a 200-foot cord, so Slim would often leave the stage – sometimes on the shoulders of a man hired to carry him through the crowd – and go out into the street to play his solos.
Slim was born in Greenwood, Mississippi. His mother died when he was five, and he was raised by his grandmother. After returning from military service during World War II, he started playing in clubs around New Orleans.
His The Things That I Used To Do – a dark, brooding fusion of gospel music and blues before such a fusion became fashionable – topped the US R&B chart in 1954 and proved to be one of the biggest records of the year. The heavily amplified guitar was light years ahead of its time, with Ray Charles lending a hand on the piano.
Slim became an alcoholic and eventually died of pneumonia in New York City in February 1959, aged 32.
A healthy ration of Slim’s revolutionary blues guitar has been found in the Specialty vaults and reissued through Ace Records.