Father of the Swamp Blues: Lightnin’ Slim

Father of the Swamp Blues: Lightnin’ Slim

The father of the Swamp Blues, black music from deep down Louisiana country, around Baton Rouge is without a doubt Lightnin’ Slim. Until he moved to Baton Rouge, Slim was a farm boy in Missouri just outside St. Louis. At age thirteen Slim moved to the Swamps of Louisiana were his brother taught him how to play guitar. At Excello records he would become Jay Millers most faithful blues musician and eventually Father of the Swamp Blues.

Swamp pop to Swamp Blues

He was the first black musician who recorded with J.D. ‘Jay’ Miller and turned swamp pop into swamp blues. Slim later on introduced many other bluesmen to Miller, who were finally able to record some songs with Miller. Among them Lazy Lester and Slim Harpo. Slim influenced the black music in Louisiana the same way Muddy Waters did in Chicago. (Encyclopedia of the Blues,p 7 By Gérard Herzhaft)

Similarity with Little Walter

His songs have similarity with Little Walter is the way he sings, the relaxed feeling groove he makes and the Caribbean rhythms of the drum. But most of all the powerful harmonica that now and then comes around. Lightnin’ Slim is not a shouter or a power rocker, he preaches the Blues in a quiet way while his voice dances slowly on the groove.

Lightnin’Slim: Most consisting bluesman

Lightnin’ Slim was the most consisting bluesman, Slim Harpo the most commercial. Lightnin’Slim never had the national success like his fellow friend Slim Harpo had. But nevertheless He was one of the favourites of the black public in the southwest.

Lightnin’ Slim and Slim Harpo

Slim Harpo started playing harmonica in Lightnin’ band. After a while Harpo recorded his own songs. At first instance Miller didn´t know Harpo could sing, “Jeah he can sing”, Lightnin’ said. Miller wasn’t that impressed with Harpo singing, he liked his harmonica playing, like he had done for several years in Lightnin’ Slim’s band. When Harpo started singing through his nose, like Hank Williams did, Miller was convinced of Harpo talent. (South to Louisiana: The Music of the Cajun Bayous, p. 132, By John Broven)

Blues hit: King Bee

Harpo would become a star after his hit “King Bee”, which was covered by many artist including Muddy Waters, The Rolling Stones and Clifton Chenier. Slim Harpo and Lightnin’ Slim played for more than two decades together. Despite Harpo was the bigger star, Lightnin’ Slim performed in many places including Chicago with Lazy Leste and Harpo.

Influence Lightnin’ Slim

Swamp Blues Lightnin' Slim photo ChrisLitherland LakeMartin
Swamp Blues Lightnin’ Slim photo ChrisLitherland LakeMartin

Slim Harpo was the harmonica player, Lightnin’ the Guitarist. He inspired a lot of blues musicians with his style, including Buddy Guy:

“My idea of a guitarist was Lightnin’Slim, who sat when he played. Lighting’ was the one who told me that the guitar was designed to be played sitting down. It fit on your lap. That’s where I figured a guitar belonged. “

– Buddy Guy-

Lightnin’ Slim made a lot of great songs. My favourites are all on this page, listen to songs like: Bugger Bugger Boy, Rock Me Mama, Cool Down Baby and Good Morning Heartaches, and you get a feel and twist of the songs and history of Lightnin’ Slim.

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