Frankie Lee Sims
|Frankie Lee Sims|
April 30, 1917|
New Orleans, Louisiana, United States
|Died||May 10, 1970
Dallas, Texas, United States
|Genres||Texas blues, electric blues|
|Associated acts||Lightnin' Hopkins|
Frankie Lee Sims (April 30, 1917, New Orleans, Louisiana – May 10, 1970, Dallas, Texas) was an American singer-songwriter and electric blues guitarist. He released nine singles during his career, one of which, "Lucy Mae Blues" (1953) was a regional hit. Two compilation albums of his work were released posthumously.
Sims was the cousin of another Texas blues musician, Lightnin' Hopkins, and he worked with several other prominent blues musicians, including Texas Alexander, T-Bone Walker, King Curtis and Albert Collins. Sims is regarded as one of the important figures in post-war Texas country blues.
Frankie Lee Sims was born on April 30, 1917 in New Orleans, Louisiana, to Henry Sims and Virginia Summuel. He claimed he was born on February 29, 1906, but 1906 was not a leap year and April 30, 1917 is generally accepted as his birth date. He was the nephew of Texas blues singer Texas Alexander, and the cousin of Texan guitarist Lightnin' Hopkins. Both Sims's parents were "accomplished guitarists". His family moved to Marshall, Texas in the late 1920s, and at the age of 12 he learnt to play guitar from Texas blues musician Little Hat Jones and ran away from home to work as a musician. In the late 1930s Sims had a dual career of a teacher in Palestine, Texas on weekdays and a guitarist at local dances and parties on weekends. When the US entered the Second World War at the end of 1941, Sims enlisted, becoming a Marine for three years. After the war Sims made Dallas his home where he pursued a full-time career in music.
In Dallas Sims encountered, and performed with, Texas blues guitarists T-Bone Walker and Smokey Hogg in local clubs. In 1948 Sims recorded two singles for Blue Bonnet Records, but his first success came in 1953 when he recorded his song, "Lucy Mae Blues" for Art Rupe's Specialty Records, which went on to become a regional hit. The Encyclopedia of the Blues called "Lucy Mae Blues" a "masterpiece of rhythm and good humor". Sims continued recording songs for Specialty through the mid-1950s, many of them not released at the time. In 1957 he moved to Johnny Vincent's Ace Records and recorded several songs, including "Walking with Frankie" and "She Likes to Boogie Real Low", which AllMusic called "mighty rockers". Members of his band in 1957 were Willie Taylor (piano), Jack White (tenor saxophone), Ralph Morgan (bass), and Jimmy "Mercy Baby" Mullins (drums). Sims also recorded with other blues musicians, including his cousin Hopkins, and appears on several of their records. In the early 1960s Hopkins "cashed in" on the folk-blues revival, but Sims faded into obscurity.
In 1969 blues historian Chris Strachwitz tracked Sims down to record him on his Arhoolie label, but Sims died soon after on May 10, 1970 in Dallas at the age of 53. The cause of death was pneumonia brought on by his poor health. At the time of his death he was reported to have had a drinking problem and was under investigation regarding a "shooting incident". Soon after his death, Specialty Records released a compilation album of Sim's recordings with the label, Lucy Mae Blues. In 1985 Krazy Kat released Walkin' With Frankie, an album of unreleased songs he had recorded for the label in 1960.
Style and influence
Along with Lightnin' Hopkins and Lil' Son Jackson, Sims is regarded as "one of the great names in post-war Texas country blues". According to the Encyclopedia of the Blues, his was a "considerable" influence on other musicians in Dallas. T-Bone Walker acknowledged Sims's effect on his style of playing, and Hopkins got some of his ideas from him. Sims also guided several musicians at the start of their careers, including King Curtis and Albert Collins.
Sims's style of guitar playing was to produce rhythmical patterns over and over, but with a slight change in each repetition, giving his music an "irresistible dance beat". He produced a "twangy, ringing" sound on his electric guitar that was "irresistible on fast numbers and stung hard on the downbeat stuff".
Source: Frankie Lee Sims Discography
- "Home Again Blues"/"Cross Country Blues" (1948, Blue Bonnet 147)
- "Don't Forget Me Baby"/"Single Man Blues" (1948, Blue Bonnet 148)
- "Lucy Mae Blues"/"Don't Take It Out On Me" (1953, Specialty 459)
- "I'm Long Long Gone"/"Yeh Baby" (1953, Specialty 478)
- "Rhumba My Boogie"/"I'll Get Along Somehow" (1954, Specialty 487)
- "What Will Lucy Do?"/"Misery Blues" (1957, Ace 524)
- "Hey Little Girl"/"Walkin' With Frankie" (1957, Ace 527)
- "She Likes To Boogie Real Low"/"Well Goodbye Baby" (1958, Vin 1006)
- "I Warned You Baby"/"My Talk Didn't Do No Good" (1958, Ace 539)
- "Married Woman"/"Lucy Mae" (1971, Specialty 478-45)
Compilation albums (LP)
- Lucy Mae Blues (1970, Specialty SP/SPS 2124)
- Walkin' With Frankie (1985, Krazy Kat KK7428)
|Frankie Lee Sims by Chris Strachwitz|
- List of blues musicians
- List of country blues musicians
- List of electric blues musicians
- List of Texas blues musicians
- Dahl, Bill. "Frankie Lee Sims". AllMusic. Retrieved 2010-10-19.
- Harris, S. (1981). Blues Who's Who. New York: Da Capo Press, p. 461.
- Sims, Frankie Lee. Lucy Mae Blues LP sleeve notes. Specialty SP/SPS 2124 (US).
- Bentley, Chris (April 1985). Walkin' With Frankie LP sleeve notes. Krazy Kat KK7428 (UK).
- Herzhaft, Gérard; Harris, Paul; Haussler, Jerry; Mikofsky, Anton J. (1997). Encyclopedia of the Blues. University of Arkansas Press. pp. 187–188. ISBN 1-55728-452-0. Retrieved 2010-10-19.
- J C Marion, "Some Texas Blues : Frankie Lee Sims and Mercy Baby", 2007. Retrieved 18 May 2014
- Wirz, Stefan. "Frankie Lee Sims Discography". American Music. Retrieved 2010-10-19.
- Koda, Cub. "Lucy Mae Blues". AllMusic. Retrieved 2010-10-19.