We're saddened to report on the death of Chicago blues legend Morris "Magic Slim" Holt on Thursday, February 21st, 2013 at the age of 75. Holt had been suffering from a breathing disorder and had been hospitalized in Philadelphia for several weeks.
Born in 1937 in rural Mississippi, Slim grew up in Grenada and became interested in music at a young age, singing in the church choir. He originally played piano, but after losing a finger on his right hand in a cotton gin accident he switched over to guitar. Slim picked cotton during the day and played the blues at night and on weekends at house parties and such. In honor of his Mississippi roots, in 2011 the state erected a Blues Trail Marker in Slim's honor in front of a building in Grenada where his mother had once run a restaurant.
Slim made the move north to Chicago in 1955, and was provided help (and his nickname) by his friend Magic Sam. Slim found the Chicago blues scene too competitive, and went back to Chicago for five years to hone his craft. When he returned to the Windy City, he formed his longtime band the Teardrops with his brother, bassist Nick Holt. Magic Slim & the Teardrops would soon become one of the most popular blues bands in Chicago and around the world, playing clubs and festivals alike with the same white-hot intensity, winning Slim & the Teardrops a Blues Music Award in 2003 as "Blues Band of the Year."
Magic Slim began his recording career in 1966 with the release of the single "Scufflin'," and released a number of singles throughout the 1960s and '70s. His first full-length album was released in 1978 and over the next three decades, Magic Slim would released over two-dozen albums on labels like Alligator Records, Evidence Records, Wolf Records, and Rooster Blues. In 1990, Slim began a lengthy association with Blind Pig Records that lasted until his death, the label releasing ten albums and a live DVD over 22 years, including the singer and guitarist's swansong, 2012's Bad Boy. Over the course of his lengthy career, Magic Slim earned 44 Blues Music Award nominations from The Blues Foundation, winning six awards total.
Blind Pig Records owner Jerry Del Giudice said in a press release about the artist's passing, "Magic Slim embodied the heart and soul of this label. It was Magic Slim, and the guys like him, and their music, that inspired us to start the label in the first place."
Photo by Tim Holek, courtesy Blind Pig Records