Chicago Blues icon Morris “Magic Slim” Holt, a legendary guitarist and singer who helped shape the sound of Chicago electric blues, died Wednesday at a Philadelphia hospital. He was 75.
Marty Salzman, Holt’s manager, said the blues singer was touring with his band the Teardrops in late January when he became ill and was hospitalized in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania for respiratory problems.
He was later transferred to a hospital in Philadelphia where he was was being treated for bleeding ulcers complicated by pre-existing issues with his kidneys, his lungs, his weight, and his heart.
Born in Mississippi, Holt began playing guitar as a teen after he lost after he lost the pinky finger on his right hand in a cotton-gin accident.
In 1955, Slim made his first trip to Chicago, where he played bass in Samuel “Magic Sam” Maghett’s band and picked up his new name.
After forming his band, Magic Slim and the Teardrops with brothers Nick and Douglas in the late 1960s, Holt became a regular fixture on the Chicago blues scene, developing his own distinctive style of playing – a slide-style vibrato heavy sound. He cut his first album, Born Under a Bad Sign, in 1977.
“Magic Slim embodied the heart and soul of this label,” comments Blind Pig Records owner Jerry Del Giudice. “It was Magic Slim, and the guys like him, and their music, that inspired us to start the label in the first place.”
Vintage Vinyl News notes Slim’s final album, Bad Boy, came out in 2012.
In honor of Magic Slim, check out one of his hit songs, Goin’ To Mississippi, below: