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April 10, 1922|
Hopkinsville, Kentucky, United States
|Died||October 1, 2003
Gary, Indiana, United States
John Brim (April 10, 1922 – October 1, 2003) was an American Chicago blues guitarist, songwriter and singer. He wrote and recorded the song "Ice Cream Man" (later covered by the band Van Halen on its first album, by Martin Sexton on his 2001 album, Live Wide Open, by David Lee Roth on his album Diamond Dave and by Swedish band FJK as "Isglasskis").
Brim began playing guitar by studying the recordings of Big Bill Broonzy and Tampa Red. He moved to Indianapolis in 1941 and Chicago in 1947. His wife, Grace, was also a talented musician, playing drums and harmonica.
Brim recorded for several labels, including Chess Records. "Ice Cream Man" was recorded in 1953 but not released until 1969. Other tracks recorded for Chess include "I Would Hate to See You Go" (1956). The album Whose Muddy Shoes includes all his songs from the 1950s on that label.
Brim also operated a dry cleaners and a record store. He used his royalties from Van Halen's recording of "Ice Cream Man" to open a nightclub in Chicago.
He continued to perform occasionally around Chicago and was a regularly featured performer at the Chicago Blues Festival beginning in 1991, when he was backed by a Chicago blues band, the Ice Cream Men (drummer Steve Cushing, guitarists Dave Waldman and "Rockin'" Johnny Burgin, and harmonica player Scott Dirks). The name of the band was coincidental; they were not Brim's regular band and had been using the name because the members had previously worked with the Chicago bluesman Otis "Big Smokey" Smothers, who worked as an ice cream man on Chicago's South Side.
Brim recorded four songs for the German label Wolf in 1989. A compilation, Ice Cream Man, was released by Tone Cool Records in 1994. It was nominated for a W. C. Handy Award as the Best Traditional Blues Album of the Year.
On the morning of October 1, 2003, Brim was struck with chest pain and died as he was being taken in an ambulance to a hospital, where it was determined that the cause of death was heart cancer. He was 81 years old. His funeral was held on October 10, 2003.