One of the best blues-rockers of the 1950’s whose career – and life – was far too short, but who left behind some iconic records, loads of influence and a reputation to be envied.

Eddie Jones was born in Mississippi in 1926, sang in church as a youngster and moved to New Orleans in his late teens or early twenties where he embarked on a singing career. His gospel background and his quick mastery of the guitar, which he’d been inspired to learn after seeing Gatemouth Brown, got him a gig at New Orleans famed Dew Drop Inn before he signed with Imperial Records in 1951 who had moved into the upper echelon of independent labels with their New Orleans artists the year before.

But despite having future rock star Huey “Piano” Smith in his band, Slim’s only session for them was split between pure blues and blues with a touch of rock and didn’t sell and with Dave Bartholomew having left the label they had no producer capable of channeling his talents into a more commercial sound.

The following year however he was signed to J-B records, a new imprint started by Jim Bulleit, the man who’d ran Bullet Records in the late 1940’s and had some notable releases on a number of artists, led by Cecil Gant. Though Slim only cut two sides for J-B they were both firmly in the rock vein and gave him his first hit, albeit regionally, as “Feelin Sad” topped the New Orleans charts throughout December 1952.

That was enough to get him signed to Specialty Records the next year where he made his biggest impact in a marathon session arranged by Ray Charles who played piano behind him on his chart topping “The Things I Used To Do”, one of the biggest hits of the Nineteen Fifties, spending a whopping 14 weeks at Number One.

It would be his only national hit but in spite of that his influence was immense, both with his guitar playing with its heavy distortion and feedback and especially his stage show in which he frequently walked out into the audience (sometimes into the street and occasionally riding the shoulders of his manager or a band member), his 350 foot long guitar chord trailing behind, and played in the midst of rapturous crowds wearing brightly colored suits – and brightly dyed hair to match the suits – to draw even more attention to himself. One of the most dynamic live performers ever, he was such a legend on the chitlin’ circuit that not even the biggest artists with far more hits than he could win the crowd over after Slim left the stage.

He couldn’t capitalize on his hit or his reputation however as after moving to Atlantic Records in 1956 his drinking, womanizing and “living three days to y’all’s one”, began to take its toll on him and he died in on tour in 1959 of bronchial pneumonia at the age of 32.

Fittingly, he was buried with his guitar.

GUITAR SLIM DISCOGRAPHY (Records Reviewed To Date On Spontaneous Lunacy):

(J-B 603; November, 1952)
The first record in which he embraces rock with no stylistic reservations, as the swaggering story is carried out with exuberant call and response vocals with the band whose rollicking rhythms, bolstered by handclaps, never lets up, topped by a tasty guitar solo by Slim. (9)

(J-B 603; November, 1952)
It’s not his guitar, which is absent, that propels this record, but rather the sad soulful voice telling a tale of heartbreak which manages to overcome the atonal horns and sparse arrangement and make it a #1 hit in New Orleans which put him on the map. (7)