Tag Archives: Little Walter

90s blues legends The Red Devils and Lester Butler

90s blues legends The Red Devils and Lester Butler

The Red Devils where a L.A. based blues band led by Harmonica player Lester Butler from 1988 to 1994. Butler was an excellent harmonica player in the style of Chicago Blues greats like Little Walter, Sonny Boy Williamson and Junior Wells. The Devils are exploding blues monster who made in their short existence a big mark on blues music around the world. Their album King King is what you could name a classic.

No other blues band made me so revive the music Howlin´ Wolf or Muddy Waters bands made once. It were the song ´She´s Dangerous´, ´Automatic, I´ve Been Wrong´ and so on, so on. The Red Devils make blues that stays close to the post-war basics. Beat, Groove, Harp and a gritty voice. You will find all these elements in their music, it may sound easy but it ain’t. It is blues magic.

Lester Butler on Little Walter

Butler was influenced by Little Walter since the tunes of Walter were stomped out of the amplifier at his home for the first time. He recalls: “You couldn’t hear if it was a harmonica or a Saxophone”. The Red Devils were also highly influenced by former revivalists Canned Heat and ZZ Top.

The Red Devils at the King King

During the late 80s the Red Devils became the Monday-evening house band of L.A. Club the King King. With their performances in the King King they soon drew the interest of Rick Rubin and George Drakoulias of Def American Recordings. Soon after they met, Rubin made it clear he would produce their first album, titled after the club that was like a living room to them. King King was recorded during several of their Monday evening performances in 1991.

THE RED DEVILS feat. LESTER BUTLER ~ devil woman

Break up of the Red Devils

Due to drug problems of Butler the Red Devils were disbanded by the end of 1994. After the Red Devils, Butler fronted the band 13. With 13 Lester made an also magical album called “13” on Hightone Records in 1997. Listen to it below.

Butler died of an overdose of heroin and cocaine on May 9, 1998, in Los Angeles at the age of 38. Two of his friends were convicted in his death of involuntary manslaughter.

Of all modern blues bands I consider the Red Devils as one of the best because how these guys could rock the stage with classic Chicago Blues was unique and maybe the last time you could see that kind of Blues on stage. Listen to some of their best songs throughout this article.

Find out more about the Red Devils at Nofightin´.

Feature picture credit: Original album cover of the Red Devils Album King King. Credits to Def American records or the graphic artist. The image is used for identification in the context of critical commentary of the work for which it serves as cover art.

Lester Butler on Little Walter

The Red Devils “She’s Dynamite” on MTV

The Red Devils 1993 Live at Pinkpop The Netherlands

The red devils – louisiana blues

Lester Butler & The Red Devils – Boogie Disease

Time to Cry – live at Pinkpop

Lester Butler 13 on Spotify

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Classic Blues Songs and Traditional: Goin’ Down Slow

Classic Blues Songs and Traditional: Goin’ Down Slow


Some blues songs contributed so much to the history of blues and music that the can be named classic songs, or even a traditional. A few musicians have that honour. One of them is St. Louis Jimmy Oden. Goin’ Down Slow’ written by his hand in 1941 is covered over a forty times, and in my opinion it would still be a hit.

This November it rained so hard you wouldn’t think about goin´ out on the street. And yeah there was I walking to the city centre. Muddy Waters, best recordings was on headphone. The song: Goin’ Down Slow. It was what you can call right song on the right time. Wet from the rain, and cold from the wind. After Muddy version was finished. I searched for more versions while freezing my hands of. Wolf, Walter, Dupree, Charles and Sonny Terry’s Goin’ Down Slow made that terrible walk a pleasure. I searched around and found a whole lot of covers of Oden’s Masterpiece. Some of old dogs in blues, also a lot of new bluesman.

The Original: St. Louis Jimmy Oden Blues composer

St. Louis Jimmy Oden was a profilic composer from St. Louis alongside Roosevelt Sykes, Oden travelled throughout the south, mid-west and eventually settled in Chicago. Those days piano and guitar teams where popular around St. Louis. Odin recorded Goin’ Down Slow on November 11, 1941, and was issued on Bluebird records that year.

Other recording Goin’ Down Slow

More than forty times this traditional blues song had been recorded. Champion Jack Dupree, Roosevelt Sykes and Ray Charles where the first musicians to cover Oden’s hit. Almost every recording of Goin’ Down Slow stays close to the original. Howlin’ Wolf however, slightly changed some of the lyrics with the help of Willie Dixon. Wolf and Dixon made a greet dialog song of Goin’ Down Slow. How life for a man slowly slips away. Especially this rhyme:

“Man, you know I done enjoyed things
That Kings and Queens will never have
In fact, Kings and Queens can never get
And they don’t even know about it and good times?”

Howlin’ Wolf – Goin’ Down Slow

The bluesman who dominated the scene for a whole lot of years Howlin’ Wolf recorded Goin’ Down Slow in 1961 for Chess Record. His version is the grittiest, darkest and baddest of all, and therefore maybe the best. You would think It was written for Howlin’ Wolf. Willie Dixon added a few lyrics to the song.

“Now looky here, I did not say I was a millionaire
But I said I have spent more money than a millionaire
‘Cause if I had kept all of the money I done already spent
I would’ve been a millionaire, a long time ago
And women? Great googly moogly”

Little Walter – Goin’ Down Slow

Especially the intro of Walter’s Goin’ Down Slow is amazing, this true electric version is like a opera. Walter really creates the tradegy of the song, and makes it a real blues hit. The electric guitar part is deep and leading in this song. You wouldn’t expect such a leading guitar part in a Little Walter song.

Cousin Joe – Goin’ Down Slow

Down in New Orleans Cousin Joe recorded Goin’ Down Slow in 1994 on his Bad Luck Blues Album. Like you would expect from Cousin Joe the piano is a bit groovy, but Joe’s voice is the key to listening to this song. Joe preaches slow.

Sonny Terry & Brownie MC Ghee – Goin’ Down Slow

Like you would expect from Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee they turn this blues traditional into a Delta Folk mixer. Like most of the versions Goin’ Down Slow is a slow song, but Sonny adds with his harmonica a whole lotta groove into the composition.

BB King – Goin’ Down Slow

One of the few who make this Goin’ Down Slow a groovy rhythm full song is BB King. Especially the ongoing beat makes this song. But BB soulful voice is absolute fantastic.

After listening to al the version of Jimmy Oden’s masterpiece I really favoured the versions of Wolf and Walter. A few weeks later BB King was the man to listen to. There aren’t that many songs that have been recorded so many times, and that is a great thing about this song. You will change your favourite version a couple of time. But the song never changes.

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John “Ice Cream Man” Brim Chicago’s Blues guitarist

John “Ice Cream Man” Brim Chicago’s Blues guitarist

There is no music genre where the harmonica has a bigger and dominant role than in the Blues. We all know musicians like Little Walter, Sonny Boy Williamson and Junior Wells who played some bad ass tunes over the years. These guys had all one thing in common a good guitarist. A musician who was brilliant in playing the blues guitar to accompany the Harp was John Brim. The Chicago Blues master you should now for writing and recording the blues original “Ice Cream Man”, backed by Little Walter.

John Brim Blues Influences


Brim is a man who knows how blues guitar should be played, as a dance around the harmonica and steady drums. Swinging high and heavy through your bones in a tight rhythm. Brim was influenced by playing with old dogs Big Bill Broonzy, Tampa Red and John Lee Williamson and Big Maceo Merriweather.

After arriving in Chicago he continued his musical journey by jamming with friends like Muddy Waters, Little Walter, Floyd Jones and Jimmy Reed. With these bluesmen he defined the sound of the Chicago Blues.

John Brim and Grace Brim the Blues couple

John Brim and his wife Grace, who was an excellent harmonica and drum player, started performing around 1948 with Big Maceo Merriweather. They accompanied Merriweather on four titles for Fortune Records in Detroit. (The Blues Encyclopedia,p. 147 / Edward Komara,Peter Lee). After Years of performing they became the king and Queen of the Indiana Blues scene. Steve Cushing once interviewed John and his wife Grace for Blues before Sunrise . Read the interview here.

Van Halen & J. Geils covers Brim

Like Many other Blues musicians Brim Recorded for several labels like Chess, Checker, Parrot and Random. His songs were covered by a lot of bands. Van Halen made their own version of “Ice Cream Man”, J Geils Band covered “Be Careful”.nbsp;

In contrast to Brim, Van Halen scored a top hit with “Ice Cream Man”. Brim once commented to writer Teven Sharp: “Van Halen did it…. It stayed on the charts for twenty years. We did it, It stayed on the shelf for twenty years“. Nevertheless, the cover songs of Van Halen and the J. Geils Band ensured Brim to receive a significant amount of royalties.  (The Blues Encyclopedia,p. 147 / Edward Komara,Peter Lee)

John Brim Spotify

John Brim – Tough Times

John Brim-Ice Cream Man

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Chicago Blues Harmonica great Junior Wells

Chicago Blues Harmonica great Junior Wells

When the great Junior Wells from Memphis Tennessee started playing harmonica he almost went to jail for stealing a Marine Band harp. Wells wanted the harmonica he saw in a pawnshop on Harrison Street, Chicago costing 2 dollars. Junior only had one-fifty. He smashed the one-fifty down, took the Marine Band and ran out. Junior got caught by the police and went to court. The judge was impressed by Wells story and decided to pay the fifty cents. Who was this judge? I don’t know, but the guy was great.

Junior always looked relax on stage, his performances were energetic, his voice soulful and his screams James Brown-like he had charisma. He could sing Blues Ballads, Rock songs and Funk Tracks at the same time. He made a party explode and with his solid band he just had to make a crowd swing. And that was Junior Wells his trademark.

Harmonica with Sonny Boy Williamson

As a kid he learned to play harmonica from the best. At age ten Sonny Boy ‘John Lee’ Williamson took care of him. John Lee was doing a thing with Big Maceo and Tampa Red at that time when they heard Junior play. They liked Junior’s style and asked him to play along. It was Sonny Boy who told Wells to buy a Marine band harmonica.

Junior Wells in the Chicago Blues scene

Junior Wells 1996 photo Wiki commons  Masahiro Sumori
Junior Wells 1996 photo Wiki commons Masahiro Sumori

Junior Wells was a young dog in the Chicago music scene. The world of blues musicians is small. Everybody met everybody, and they all played together. It must have been a friendly but competitive world because they all switched and changed bands, musicians jammed together and record together it was all in the game; play to pay the rent. Junior Wells was no exception. Like many others in the Chicago blues scene Wells met Little Walter and Muddy Waters. He was twelve and saw Muddy and Walter perform at the Union hall of Chicago. After a while Wells took the stage. Walter looked down on Junior and said “He gonna blow a Harmonica”, “A pip-squeak?“ Wells made eighty dollars in tips that night. The twelve year old youngster made quite made his mark that night. (Harmonicas, Harps and Heavy Breathers p. 179/184 by Kim Field)

As a youngster Wells played with many musicians in tavern bars around Chicago. He was part of Tampa Red’s, Memphis Slim’s band. The main persona of this blog went to a lot of houseparties on the southside. At one of those parties he met Dave and Louis Myers. Junior and the Myers started playing together in the Hollywood Rendezvous seven nights a week calling themselves the Aces. Two songs from the aces I like are: Junior’s Whoop and Man Downstairs.

Juniors Whoop

Man Downstairs

When Little Walter made some big hits in the fifties, Wells got offered a job at Muddy band for a tour through the south. Junior went to Muddy, The Myers brothers went to Little Walter. Wells played Harmonica on the hit song ‘Mannish Boy’. The Myers became the steady jazzy backbeat of Little Walters live band.

Junior Wells Hoodoo Blues

My personal hightlight of Junior Wells recording career was Hoodoo Blues with Buddy Guy. Songs like We’re Ready. Good Morning Schoolgirl and Chitlin’ Con Carne are songs everybody should listen to. He has a great Harmonica sound on these tracks and above all a great rhythmic backing band. The album inspired many blues revival musicians like Eric Clapton and Paul Butterfield.

Chitlin’ Con Carne

Greatest songs Junior Wells

Junior Wells never made the fame other artist like Little Walter, Howlin’Wolf, Muddy Waters and James Brown had on the national Charts. He recorded a whole lot of great records, some with Buddy Guy, and other with Earl Hooker. Together with Hooker he recorded some rock ‘n boogie songs. I really like Lazy Mule, a combination of rock ‘n roll and the later on traditional Blues. Also Come on in this House is a must listen.

He was a true performed, even at an older age he knew how to make good music. If he was better produced an more managed he could have been the greatest blues singer of all time. In 1996 he released the acoustic album Come in My House. At older he age gave a great interview to Lincoln Beauchamp BluesSpeak: The Best of the Original Chicago Blues Annual
Read it here. For now: Let’s listen  to this great and remember the fantastic Junior Wells.

Tracy Chapman with Junior Wells- Give Me One Reason

Interview with Junior Wells

Buddy Guy and Junior Wells Interview

Junior Wells-What’d I Say

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Hound Dog Taylor Blues Blog Slide Guitar

Lets Get Funky Blues Blog

Theodore Roosevelt  the 26th president of the United States was known for his  range of interests, his leadership as well as his “cowboy” persona. A man born in NatchezMississippi in 1915 with the same name Theodore Roosevelt Taylor would be known for his six fingers, his extraordinary guitarstyle, his Rock ‘n Roll band and contribution to the Blues, and Rock ‘n Roll. Hound Dog Taylor he ain’t a Cowboy but he sho’ plays like a motherfucker. A new Blues blog.

Blues music Blog

The Route To The North

Like many other blues musicians Hound Dog Taylor made the journey from the south to the north. But Hound Dog left the south because he was chased out of Mississippi by the Klan after having an affair with a white woman. He hide himself for one day, the next day he travelled to Chicago and never returned.

Gonna Send You Back To Georgia – Slide Maniac

Hound Dog Taylor picked up his guitar quite late. He originally played piano, but it would be until his twentieth when he started playing the guitar. And that decision is maybe the best he could make. Hound Dog is for me together with Elmore James the king of the slide guitar. An inspiration for many guitar players who adopted the blues and turned it into Rock ‘n Roll, Hard Rock or maybe Metal. The dirt that comes out of his guitar is fenomonal. Especially in “Gonna Send you Back To Georgia”.


Clubs on the Chicago Southside

Taylor started playing professionally in 1957, till that time he always kept a side job, like building TV cabinets. In 1957 he made the blues his main business, because he became the top hit in a lot of Clubs on the south side of Chicago. Like Little Walter and Sonny Boy Williamson too, Hound Dog played among others on the Maxwell Street Market. I think Hound Dag developed his slide style there. It could have resulted in the collaboration with Koko Taylor and Walter like this one:

The Houserockers

Hound dog Tayler  and the HouseRockers where a plain loud straightforward band. Music website elsewhere.co.nz wrote an article about Hound Dog citing a quote of Robert Christau where he referred to band as “the Ramones of the Blues”.

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