|Birth name||James Moore|
January 11, 1924|
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
|Died||January 31, 1970(aged 46)|
Juke Joint blues
|Years active||1950s, 1960s|
James Moore (January 11, 1924 – January 31, 1970), known as Slim Harpo, was an American blues musician. He was known as a master of the blues harmonica; the name "Slim Harpo" was derived from "harp," the popular nickname for the harmonica in blues circles.
Born in Lobdell, Louisiana, United States, the eldest in an orphaned family, he worked as a longshoreman and construction worker during the late 1930s and early 1940s. He began performing in Baton Rouge bars under the name Harmonica Slim and later accompanied his brother-in-law, Lightnin' Slim, both live and in the studio.
Named Slim Harpo by producer J.D. "Jay" Miller, he started his own recording career in 1957. His solo debut was the Grammy Hall of Fame single "I'm a King Bee" backed with "I Got Love If You Want It."
Harpo recorded under A&R man J.D. "Jay" Miller, in Crowley, Louisiana for Excello Records based in Nashville, Tennessee, and enjoyed a string of popular R&B singles, including Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee "Rainin' In My Heart" (1961) and the number one Billboard R&B hit "Baby Scratch My Back" (1966). On these recordings he was accompanied by the regular stable of Excello musicians, including Lazy Lester.
British rock bands like the Rolling Stones, the Pretty Things, the Yardbirds, the Kinks, Pink Floyd and Them featured versions of his songs in their early repertoires. Later, the riff from Harpo's 1966 hit "Shake Your Hips", which itself was derivative of Bo Diddley's "Bring It to Jerome", was used in the ZZ Top hit "La Grange", and the Rolling Stones covered the song on their 1972 album Exile On Main Street. "Shake Your Hips" was also covered by Joan Osborne on her 2012 album Bring It On Home. It's likely that The Moody Blues took their name from an instrumental track of Slim's called "Moody Blues".
Harpo's recordings were also widely covered in modern African-American circles, including by the late Gil Scott-Heron on his final album. Scott-Heron covered "I'll Take Care of You" on his record I'm New Here. The song is also featured on the remix album featuring Jamie XX called We're New Here.
Other notable covers of Slim Harpo songs include "I Got Love If You Want It" by The Kinks, "I'm the Face" by the Who (when they were still called The High Numbers), "I'm A King Bee" by The Rolling Stones, Muddy Waters, the Grateful Dead, Pink Floyd and The Doors, and "Don't Start Crying Now" by Them with Van Morrison.
Never a full-time musician, Harpo had his own trucking business during the 1960s. He died following a heart attack at the age of 46, 20 days after his birthday. Harpo was buried in Mulatto Bend Cemetery in Port Allen, Louisiana.
- Koda, Cub. Biography of Slim Harpo at AllMusic. Retrieved 2012-05-08.
- Lockhart, John M. "Words & Music", The Riverside Reader, February 4, 2008, p. 4
- Russell, Tony (1997). The Blues - From Robert Johnson to Robert Cray. Dubai: Carlton Books Limited. p. 167. ISBN 1-85868-255-X.
- Slim Harpo at Find a Grave