Fillmore Slim

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Fillmore Slim
Playing at the Utrecht Blues Estafette, Utrecht, The Netherlands 2003 Photo: Phil Wight
Playing at the Utrecht Blues Estafette, Utrecht, The Netherlands 2003 Photo: Phil Wight
Background information
Birth nameClarence Sims
Born (1934-11-07) November 7, 1934 (age 88)
New Orleans, Louisiana, United States
GenresBlues, R&B
Occupation(s)Musician, songwriter
Instrument(s)Vocals, guitar

Clarence Sims (born November 7, 1934), best known by his stage name, Fillmore Slim, is an American blues vocalist and guitarist with five albums to his credit. During the 1960s and 1970s, he was also a known pimp in San Francisco,[1] referred to several times as "The West Coast Godfather of the Game" and "The Pope of Pimping".[2]

Early life[edit]

Born and raised in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, United States, Fillmore began learning about the blues at an early age. "I done lived the blues," he once said in an interview. "The blues is about picking cotton, working in the fields, living in the streets, and you know I did all these things."[1]

In 1955, he moved to Los Angeles to pursue a musical career, playing by himself in the street and later starting a band called Eddy N and The Blues Slayers. During this time he had a relationship with Etta James before she achieved her fame as a blues singer[1] and recorded a few 45 rpm records himself. His most successful record from this time was titled "You Got the Nerve of a Brass Monkey".[3]


Fillmore's life took a dramatic turn when one night, while playing a blues bar in Midland, Texas, he noticed a young woman who kept coming in and out of the bar. As he tells it, "Finally, she came up to me and said, "I like you. I want you to have this money." I asked her how she got all that money. She finally told me she was a hooker. I asked her what a hooker did, and she broke it on down for me."[1] Upon returning to California, he relocated to San Francisco, bringing the girl along with him for extra income. He continued working as a musician, playing in Fillmore District clubs like the Trees Pool Hall and the old Fillmore Theater. He even scored gigs opening for B.B. King and Dinah Washington.[1]

Eventually, however, Fillmore found the lure of pimping too strong and effectively left music behind.[4] He built up a stable of prostitutes and had anywhere from ten to twenty two women working Fillmore Street every day.[citation needed] His wardrobe consisted of sharkskin suits, alligator shoes and diamond watches, and he could often be seen cruising up and down Fillmore Street in a new Cadillac.[3] In the documentary American Pimp, Fillmore estimates that, in his entire career as a pimp, he had over 9,000+ prostitutes.[5]

Return to music[edit]

Fillmore Slim became friends with Eli's owner Troyce Key, who admired Slim's musical stylings and eventually recorded his first album called Born to Sing the Blues (as Clarence "Guitar" Sims), released in 1987.[1]

In 1996 Fillmore Slim updated/re-released, Born to Sing the Blues, on the Mountain Top label. Several years of touring and playing gigs followed, which led to a record deal in 1999 with Fedora Records and an album called Other Side of the Road, released in 2000. Fillmore has released more albums/CDs in the years since with a trilogy of CDs on Mountain Top Records: The Game, The Legend of Fillmore Slim, and The Blues Playa's Ball; that tell his story in his own words and music. Fillmore Slim's song writing talents, and musicianship have garnered several awards including being inducted into the Bay Area's West Coast Blues Hall of Fame in 2008, and the Lowell Fulson "Jus' Blues" Award in Memphis in 2011.[6] Since his musical resurgence, Fillmore has found his largest fanbase to be in Europe, where he's played the Zurich Blues Festival and the Blues Estafette in Utrecht, Holland, and France, among others.[1]


The Blues Playa's Ball (2011)[edit]

Track list (Disc 1):

  1. Funky Wino
  2. San Francisco Down On Sixth Street
  3. Hooker's Game
  4. The Last Stage of the Blues
  5. She's Nasty
  6. Rebecca
  7. I'd Rather Go Blind
  8. Bring Back The Funk
  9. Playing The Blues Around The World
  10. Thunder and Lightning

Track list (Disc 2):

  1. Strip Joint
  2. The Ghetto
  3. Fannie Mae
  4. Go Ahead Woman
  5. Fine French Woman
  6. Fillmore's Hood
  7. Ain't That A Shame
  8. Joe Louis Fan
  9. Playa's Ball
  10. I'd Rather Go Blind [Extended Cut]

"Dressed To Kill" single (2009)[edit]

The Legend Of Fillmore Slim: Blues Man / King Of The Game (2006)[edit]

Track list:

  1. The Legend Of Fillmore Slim
  2. Trapped By The Devil
  3. Nosey Woman
  4. Love For The Third Time
  5. Hey Little Brother
  6. Watch Yo' Self
  7. Jack You Up
  8. My Friend Blue
  9. Vegetable Man Intro
  10. Vegetable Man
  11. She Don't Love Me
  12. Blues From The Heart
  13. Tired Of My Old Lady
  14. Legend Of Fillmore Slim Intro

The Game (October 2004)[edit]

Track list:

  1. The Game [Rap Version]
  2. Faster Than Time
  3. Jody
  4. Down for My Crown
  5. My First Girlfriend
  6. Big Brass Monkey
  7. Can't Get Enough
  8. Playboy
  9. Mackin
  10. Downtown Fresno
  11. Texas Woman
  12. The Game [Blues Version]

Funky Mama's House (February 2004)[edit]

Track list:

  1. Funky Mama's House
  2. Brown Sugar Eyes
  3. Street Walker
  4. Tabby Thomas' Place
  5. Those Lonely, Lonely Nights
  6. Ya-Ya
  7. Down At Eli's
  8. Stagger Lee
  9. Earl King
  10. Saturday Night
  11. I Cross My Heart

Other Side of the Road (2000)[edit]

Track list:

  1. Let's Talk About Love
  2. Dial 911
  3. Kicked Out
  4. The Girl Can't Cook
  5. Down On The Farm
  6. Annabelle
  7. Pretty Baby
  8. Other Side Of The Road
  9. Louisiana Scat
  10. Blue Monday

Born to Sing the Blues (1998)[edit]

CD re-release with 7 additional tracks (and 4 omissions from the original vinyl recording). Released as Clarence "Guitar" Sims.

Track list:

  1. Minding My Own Business
  2. King Boy
  3. Better Man
  4. When I Come Home
  5. Watchdog
  6. 3rd Rate Love Affair
  7. Send Her Home
  8. Broke Baby
  9. Lonely Heart and Broken Mind
  10. So Much Trouble
  11. Body Language
  12. Things That I Used To Do
  13. Sims Boogie
  14. Better Man [Alternate Take]
  15. Interview: Clarence "Guitar" Sims

It's Going To Be My Time After While (1996)[edit]

Released as Fillmore Sims.

Track list:

  1. I'm Broke Baby
  2. Slippin' Out
  3. Slow Blues
  4. All The People I Could Have Been
  5. I Hear You Cryin'
  6. Cuttin-N-Loosen
  7. It's Going To Be My Time After While
  8. Instrumental

Born to Sing the Blues (1987)[edit]

Original vinyl release. Released as Clarence "Guitar" Sims.

Track list:

  1. She's Gone
  2. Reap What You Sow
  3. 3rd Rate Love Affair
  4. Watchdog
  5. Don't Treat Me Right Blues
  6. Things I Used To Do (E. Jones)
  7. I'll Be A Better Man
  8. Hard Luck Blues (R. Brown)
  9. Body Language-
  10. Lonely Heart & Broken Mind


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Amter, Charlie (August 8, 2001). "Pimps and Players | San Francisco News and Events". SF Weekly. Retrieved November 4, 2015.
  2. ^ "Review of Gospel of the Game". March 4, 2012. Archived from the original on August 3, 2019. Retrieved November 4, 2015.
  3. ^ a b Joel Selvin (September 17, 2000). "Embracing the Blues / Former pimp Fillmore Slim puts the fast life behind him, moves forward with his music". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved November 4, 2015.
  4. ^ Hildebr, Lee (February 14, 2014). "Fillmore Slim, Yoshi's show look back on the fast times". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved October 31, 2019.
  5. ^ "Rapper /Actor Snoop Dogg to Star in Biopic About "The Pope of Pimping," Fillmore Slim". 99.3–105.7 Kiss FM. September 19, 2011. Retrieved October 31, 2019.
  6. ^ "Fillmore Slim | Blues from Oakland, CA". ReverbNation. Retrieved October 31, 2019.

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