Magic Slim at the Chicago Blues Festival, 2008
August 7, 1937|
Torrance, Mississippi, United States
|Died||February 21, 2013
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
|Instruments||Vocals, electric guitar|
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 Howlin' 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 (by 6 months) 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 band, 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 musicians.
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 label MCM. During the 1980s, Slim released albums for Alligator, Rooster Blues and Wolf Records and won his first W. C. Handy Award. In 1980 he recorded a cover version of "Mustang Sally".
In 1982, the guitarist John Primer joined the Teardrops and played with the group for 13 years. Releases include Spider in My Stew, on Wolf Records, and a 1996 Blind Pig release, Scufflin', which presented the post-Primer lineup with the recent addition of the guitarist and singer Jake Dawson.
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 that 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 another Blues Music Award in the category Traditional Blues Male Artist. In 2017, Magic Slim was posthumously inducted in to the Blues Hall of Fame.