Johnny Shines

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Johnny Shines
Johnny Shines, Chicago Blues Festival 1991.jpg
Performing at the 1991 Chicago Blues Festival.
Background information
Birth name John Ned Shines
Born (1915-04-26)April 26, 1915
Frayser, Memphis, Tennessee, United States
Died April 20, 1992(1992-04-20) (aged 76)
Tuscaloosa, Alabama, United States
Genres Blues
Instruments Guitar
Years active 1932–1992
Labels Chess Records
J.O.B. Records
Vanguard Records

John Ned "Johnny" Shines (April 26, 1915 – April 20, 1992)[1] was an American blues singer and guitarist.


Shines was born in Frayser, Memphis, Tennessee, United States.[1] He spent most of his childhood in Memphis, Tennessee playing slide guitar at an early age in local "jukes" and on the street.[1] He was taught to play the guitar by his mother.[1] Shines moved to Hughes, Arkansas in 1932 and worked on farms for three years putting his musical career on hold.[2] It was a chance meeting with Robert Johnson, his greatest influence, that gave him the inspiration to return to music.[1] In 1935, Shines began traveling with Johnson, touring in the United States and Canada.[1] The two went their separate ways in 1937, one year before Johnson's death.[2]

Shines played throughout the southern United States until 1941 when he settled in Chicago.[3] There Shines found work in the construction industry but continued to play in local bars.[1]

He made his first recording in 1946 for Columbia Records, but the takes were never released.[3] He recorded for Chess in 1950, and was once again denied release.[3] 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.[1] The recordings were a commercial failure and Shines, frustrated with the music industry, sold his equipment and returned to construction.[1]

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![1] The album has since become a blues classic and it brought Shines into the mainstream music scene.[1]

Shines toured with the Chicago All Stars alongside Lee Jackson, Big Walter Horton and Willie Dixon.[1]

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.[4]

In the late 1960s and 1970s, Shines toured with Robert Johnson's stepson, Robert Lockwood, Jr. as the last remaining original delta blues musicians.[3] In 1980, Shines' music was brought to a standstill when he suffered a stroke.[3] He would later appear, and play, in the 1991 documentary The Search for Robert Johnson. His final album, Back To The Country, won a W.C. Handy Award.[1] It featured playing from Snooky Prior and Johnny Nicholas.[3]

In 1989, Shines met Kent DuChaine, and the two of them toured for the next several years until Shines' death.[5]

Shines died on April 20, 1992, in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.[1][6] He was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame later the same year.

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".[3]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n "Biography by Steve Huey". AllMusic. Retrieved May 27, 2009. 
  2. ^ a b Johnny Shines interviewed by John Hammond Jr. in The Search for Robert Johnson (UK, 1991)
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Russell, Tony (1997). The Blues - From Robert Johnson to Robert Cray. Dubai: Carlton Books Limited. p. 166. ISBN 1-85868-255-X. 
  4. ^ "Johnny Shines Dead; Delta Blues Singer, 76". The New York Times. April 21, 1992. 
  5. ^ [1] Archived December 31, 2005 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ "Johnny Shines (1915 - 1992) - Find A Grave Memorial". Retrieved 2015-08-30. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]