|Birth name||John Ned Shines|
April 26, 1915|
Frayser, Memphis, United States
|Died||April 20, 1992(aged 76)|
Shines was born in Frayser, Memphis, United States. He spent most of his childhood in Memphis, Tennessee playing slide guitar at an early age in local “jukes” and for tips on the streets. He was "inspired by the likes of Charley Patton, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Lonnie Johnson, and the young Howlin' Wolf", but he was taught to play the guitar by his mother. Shines moved to Hughes, Arkansas in 1932 and worked on farms for three years putting his musical career on hold. It was a chance meeting with Robert Johnson, his greatest influence, that gave him the inspiration to return to music. In 1935, Shines began traveling with Johnson, touring the south and heading as far north as Ontario where they appeared on a local radio program. The two went their separate ways in 1937, one year before Johnson's death.
He made his first recording in 1946 for Columbia Records, but the takes were never released. He recorded for Chess in 1950, and was once again denied release. He kept playing with local blues musicians in the Chicago area for several more years. In 1952, Shines recorded what is considered his best work for the J.O.B. Records label. The recordings were a commercial failure and Shines, frustrated with the music industry, sold his equipment and returned to construction.
In 1966, Vanguard Records found Shines taking photographs in a Chicago blues club and had him record tracks for the third installment of Chicago/The Blues/Today! The album has since then become a blues classic and it brought Shines into the mainstream music scene.
Shines moved to Holt, Alabama, in Tuscaloosa County, in 1969. When a University of Alabama student, Natalie Mattson, learned that he was living in the area, she invited him to play at a coffee house, known as the "Down Under," that she ran on campus. Shines played on several occasions, and also brought his friend, blues artist Mississippi Fred McDowell to appear with him at Down Under. These were some of his earliest appearances in Alabama after his move there. He continued to play the international blues circuit while living in Holt, Alabama.
In the late 1960s and 1970s, Shines toured with Robert Johnson's stepson, Robert Lockwood, Jr. as the last remaining original delta blues musicians. In 1980, Shines' music was brought to a standstill when he suffered a stroke. He would later appear, and play, in the 1991 documentary The Search for Robert Johnson and release one last album, Back To The Country, which won a W.C. Handy Award. It featured playing from Snooky Prior and Johnny Nicholas.
According to the music journalist Tony Russell,
"Shines was that rare being, a blues artist who overcame age and rustiness to make music that stood up beside the work of his youth. When Shines came back to the blues in 1965 he was 50, yet his voice had the leonine power of a dozen years before, when he made records his reputation was based on".
- Chicago Blues Festival
- List of blues musicians
- List of slide guitarists
- List of Delta blues musicians
- List of Chicago blues musicians
- J.O.B. Records discography
- "Biography by Steve Huey". Allmusic.com. Retrieved May 27, 2009.
- Johnny Shines interviewed by John Hammond Jr. in The Search for Robert Johnson (UK, 1991)
- Russell, Tony (1997). The Blues - From Robert Johnson to Robert Cray. Dubai: Carlton Books Limited. p. 166. ISBN 1-85868-255-X.
- "Johnny Shines Dead; Delta Blues Singer, 76". The New York Times. April 21, 1992.
- Blues Who's Who, Sheldon Harris, Da Capo, 1979, ISBN 0-306-80155-8
- The Search for Robert Johnson, John Hammond, Columbia Legacy, 1982, ISBN 0-7389-0079-6
- Illustrated Johnny Shines discography
- 1977 live recording of "Kind Hearted Woman"; from the Florida Folklife Collection, the State Archives of Florida
- Fan biography
- Johnny Shines at the Internet Movie Database
- Works by or about Johnny Shines in libraries (WorldCat catalog)