Steppin' Out (instrumental)

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"Steppin' Out"
Single by Memphis Slim
from the album At the Gate of the Horn
B-side "My Gal Keps Me Crying"
Released 1959 (1959)
Format 7-inch 45 rpm record
Recorded 1959
Genre Blues
Length 2:07
Label Vee-Jay Cat. no. VJ 330

"Steppin' Out" (or sometimes "Stepping Out") is a blues-instrumental composition recorded by American blues musician Memphis Slim in 1959. It was released by Vee-Jay Records as a single and on Slim's At the Gate of the Horn album. Although both releases list L. C. Frazier (another of Memphis Slim/Peter Chatman's pseudonyms) as the writer, Vee-Jay owner James Bracken is often credited on versions by other performers.

Memphis Slim's piano provides the opening harmony part, followed by a tenor sax solo and guitar solo by long-time Slim guitarist Matt Murphy. AllMusic critic Bill Dahl calls Murphy's album contribution as "nothing short of spectacular throughout".[1] A live version recorded in 1986 appears on the Steppin' Out: Live At Ronnie Scott's, London album and video.

Eric Clapton has recorded several versions of "Steppin' Out" during his career. In 1966, he recorded it in three different settings: Eric Clapton and the Powerhouse (released on the 1966 Elektra Records compilation album What's Shakin'),[note 1] John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers (from Blues Breakers with Eric Clapton),[note 2] and a live recording with Cream (later released on BBC Sessions in 2003).[note 3] A version recorded by Cream in 1968 was released on Clapton's Crossroads box set in 1988 and also on BBC Sessions.[note 4]

Clapton's early versions were relatively brief – two to three minutes. However, in live performances with Cream, "Steppin" Out" became an extended improvisational piece often lasting thirteen minutes or more. Often Jack Bruce, the group's bassist, would drop out of the song after several minutes, leaving Ginger Baker, the group's drummer, and Clapton to take the song in entirely new, non-blues oriented directions. A live recording appears album Live Cream Volume II (1972). A version was used in the soundtrack for Martin Scorsese's 1973 film Mean Streets.

Jesse Gess, writing for Guitar Player magazine, noted that Ritchie Blackmore's "bluesy head to 'Lazy' (from Deep Purple's Machine Head) fondly paraphrases Slowhand’s [Clapton's] Bluesbreaker-era showcase 'Steppin’ Out,' right down to the same style of third-position swing-sixteenth G blues riffing".[2]


  1. ^ Credited to Memphis Slim.
  2. ^ Credited to L. C. Frazier.
  3. ^ Credited to James Bracken.
  4. ^ Both credited to James Bracken.


  1. ^ Dahl, Bill. "Memphis Slim – Biography". AllMusic. Rovi Corp. Retrieved May 5, 2013. 
  2. ^ Gress, Jesse (February 2, 2010). "10 Things You Gotta Do To Play Like Ritchie Blackmore". Guitar Player (New Bay Media). Retrieved May 5, 2013.