Magic Slim

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Magic Slim
Magic Slim at the Chicago Blues Festival, 2008
Magic Slim at the Chicago Blues Festival, 2008
Background information
Birth nameMorris Holt
Also known asMagic Slim
Born(1937-08-07)August 7, 1937
Torrance, Mississippi, United States
DiedFebruary 21, 2013(2013-02-21) (aged 75)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
Instrument(s)Vocals, electric guitar
Years active1955–2013

Morris Holt (August 7, 1937 – February 21, 2013), known as Magic Slim, was an American blues singer and guitarist.[1][2] Born at Torrance, near Grenada, Mississippi, the son of sharecroppers, he followed blues greats such as Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf to Chicago, developing his own place in the Chicago blues scene.[3]

In 2017, Magic Slim was posthumously inducted in to the Blues Hall of Fame.[4]


Magic Slim was forced to give up playing the piano when he lost his little finger in a cotton gin mishap.[5] He moved first to nearby Grenada.[6] He first came to Chicago in 1955 with his friend and mentor Magic Sam. The elder (by six months) Magic (Sam) let the younger Magic (Slim) play bass with his band and gave him his nickname.[5]

At first Slim was not rated very highly by his peers.[7] He returned to Mississippi to work and got his younger brother Nick interested in playing bass. By 1965 he was back in Chicago and in 1970 Nick joined him in his band, the Teardrops.[7] They played in the dim, smoke-filled juke joints popular in Chicago in the 1970s on bandstands barely large enough to hold the musicians.[1]

Slim's recording career began in 1966 with the song "Scufflin'", followed by a number of singles into the mid-1970s. He recorded his first album in 1977, Born Under a Bad Sign, for the French label MCM. During the 1980s, Slim released albums for Alligator, Rooster Blues and Wolf Records and won his first W. C. Handy Award. In 1980 he recorded a cover version of "Mustang Sally".

In 1983, the guitarist John Primer joined the Teardrops and played with the group for 13 years.[7] Releases included Spider in My Stew on Wolf Records – which included the title track "Spider in My Stew", composed by Willie Dixon and originally recorded by Buster Benton - and a 1996 Blind Pig release, Scufflin', which presented the post-Primer lineup with the recent addition of the guitarist and singer Jake Dawson.[7]

In 1994, Slim moved to Lincoln, Nebraska, where the Zoo Bar had been booking him for years.[7] He was frequently accompanied by his son Shawn Holt, an accomplished guitarist and singer.

In 2003, Magic Slim and the Teardrops won the W. C. Handy Award as Blues Band of the Year for the sixth time. They released a live performance on CD and DVD in August 2005 entitled Anything Can Happen.[8]

Slim died at a hospital in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on February 21, 2013, at age 75. He had health problems that had worsened while he was on tour several weeks earlier.[9] His manager had stated that bleeding ulcers had sent Slim to the hospital, but that he also suffered from heart, lung and kidney problems.[9]

In May 2013, Magic Slim was posthumously awarded another Blues Music Award in the category Traditional Blues Male Artist.[10] In 2017, Magic Slim was posthumously inducted in to the Blues Hall of Fame.[4]


Magic Slim in 1980
  • 1977: Born Under a Bad Sign (MCM, reissued by Storyville)
  • 1978: Let Me Love You (MCM)
  • 1978: Highway Is My Home (Black & Blue, reissued by Evidence)
  • 1978: Living Chicago Blues, Vol. 2 (Alligator)
  • 1980: Liv 'n Blue (Candy Apple CA)
  • 1980: In the Heart of the Blues (Isabel)
  • 1980: Doing Fine (Isabel)
  • 1982: Raw Magic (Alligator)
  • 1982: Essential Boogie (Rooster Blues)
  • 1982: Grand Slam (Rooster Blues)
  • 1987: Live at B.L.U.E.S., with John Primer (Blues R&B)
  • 1990: Gravel Road (Blind Pig)
  • 1992: 44 Blues, with John Primer and Bonnie Lee (Wolf Records)
  • 1992: Spider in My Stew, with John Primer (Wolf Records)
  • 1992: Blues Behind Closed Doors, with John Primer and Billy Branch (Wolf Records)
  • 1993: Magic Slim & the Teardrops (Wolf Records)
  • 1994: Chicago Blues Session, Vol. 10 (Wolf Records)
  • 1994: Don't Tell Me About Your Troubles (Wolf Records)
  • 1995: Zoo Bar Collection, Vol. 3 (Wolf Records)
  • 1995: Alone & Unplugged
  • 1995: Born on a Bad Sign
  • 1996: Scufflin' (Tone Zone Studios)
  • 1997: Let Me Love You
  • 1998: Zoo Bar Collection, Vol. 4: Spider in My Stew
  • 1998: See What You're Doin' to Me (Wolf Records)
  • 1998: Black Tornado (Blind Pig)
  • 2000: Snakebite (Blind Pig)
  • 2000: Chicago Blues Session, Vol. 18: Live on the Road (Wolf Records)
  • 2002: Blue Magic, produced by Popa Chubby, who played 2nd guitar on some tracks (Blind Pig)
  • 2005: Anything Can Happen, live album (Blind Pig)
  • 2006: Tin Pan Alley, compilation album (Wolf Records)
  • 2006: That Ain't Right, Magic Slim & the Teardrops / Joe Carter with Sunnyland Slim, recorded in 1977 (Delmark)
  • 2007: The Essential Magic Slim (Blind Pig)
  • 2008: Midnight Blues, with James Cotton, Elvin Bishop, Lil' Ed Williams, Lonnie Brooks and Otis Clay, produced by Nick Moss (Blind Pig)
  • 2009: Rough Dried Woman, compilation album, recorded 1986–1992 (Wolf Records)
  • 2010: Raising the Bar
  • 2012: Bad Boy (Blind Pig)
  • 2014: Pure Magic (Wolf)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Guralnick, Peter (1989). Lost Highway: Jouneys and Arrivals of American Musicians. New York: Harper & Row. p. 306. ISBN 9780060971748.
  2. ^ "Magic Slim and the Teardrops". Archived from the original on 2013-11-02. Retrieved 2014-08-03.
  3. ^ "Chicago Bluesman Magic Slim Dead at 75". Reuters. 2013-02-21. Retrieved 2014-08-03.
  4. ^ a b "BLUES HALL OF FAME - ABOUT/Inductions - Blues Foundation". Retrieved 21 January 2018.
  5. ^ a b Dahl, Bill. "Magic Slim: Biography". Retrieved 2014-08-03.
  6. ^ "Magic Slim Biography". Retrieved 2014-08-03.
  7. ^ a b c d e Russell, Tony (1997). The Blues: From Robert Johnson to Robert Cray. Dubai: Carlton Books. p. 144. ISBN 1-85868-255-X.
  8. ^ "Blind Pig Records". Archived from the original on 2014-08-08. Retrieved 2014-08-03.
  9. ^ a b "Blues Guitarist Magic Slim Dies". CBS News. Retrieved 22 February 2013.
  10. ^ "Blues Music Awards – Past Years". Archived from the original on 2010-10-26. Retrieved 2013-05-24.

External links[edit]