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Junior Kimbrough Profile

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Junior Kimbrough

Junior Kimbrough

Photo courtesy Fat Possum Records

Junior Kimbrough Profile:

Born: July 28, 1930 in Hudsonville MS

Died: January 17, 1998 in Holly Springs MS

An obscure artist, by most accounts, during most of his life David "Junior" Kimbrough was one of the last true Mississippi Hill Country bluesmen. Although he recorded sporadically through the years, and performed mostly in North Mississippi juke joints, Kimbrough's early-to-mid-1990s recordings for the Fat Possum label brought his raw, hypnotic country blues sound to a young audience looking for sincerity and authenticity in their blues.

Early Years

The son of a sharecropper, Kimbrough was raised on a farm, but picked up the guitar at an early age. A naturally gifted player, Kimbrough learned from local legend "Mississippi" Fred McDowell. Through the years, Kimbrough held many jobs, including farmer, mechanic and moonshiner, but music was always on his mind.

During the 1950s, Kimbrough ventured to Chicago to pursue his career, but moved to Memphis a few years later. He recorded sides for Sam Phillips' Sun Records, but met with little success. Kimbrough also recorded for several regional labels during the late-1960s, including a pair of duets with his childhood friend, rockabilly star Charlie Feathers.

Junior's Place

Returning to North Mississippi, Kimbrough began throwing house parties, eventually turning his home into a juke joint. Kimbrough would later purchase a larger building, opening Junior's Place juke joint. Through the years, the club would draw famous customers like members of U2 and the Rolling Stones, who came to watch Kimbrough and his close friend, R.L. Burnside, perform onstage.

Kimbrough appeared in the 1992 documentary film Deep Blues alongside Burnside and Jessie Mae Hemphill. He signed with independent blues label Fat Possum, which released his debut album, All Night Long, the same year. Recorded live, Kimbrough's band for the album included his son Kenny Malone on drums and Burnside's son Gary on bass.

Kimbrough performed a few shows outside of Mississippi, including a trip to England, but mostly stayed around North Mississippi. Kimbrough recorded two additional studio albums for Fat Possum before his death in 1998. Sadly, Junior's Place burned down in 2000, the fire judged an arson.

Recommended Albums: You Better Run: The Essential Junior Kimbrough is the place to start, a dozen great performances culled from the bluesman's Fat Possum albums.

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