Magic Slim – 20 Impressive Facts You Didn’t Know
Morris Holt, better known as Magic Slim was born on August 7th 1937 and died on February 21st 2013. He was an American blues singer and guitarist who was originally from Torrance, near Grenada, Mississippi.
4 years after his death he was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame.
Those are facts about Magic Slim you probably already know, keep reading for 20 impressive facts about Magic Slim you didn’t know.
Table of Contents
He Started Playing A Corn Broom
One Saturday afternoon while the rest of his family were in town, Slim took the wire from his mother’ corn broom and nailed it to the wall of their home and started to play it. He said,
When momma and them came back, I was playing it. And then she whipped me for tearin’ up her broom, but she said one time that if she’d known what I’d be into later, she wouldn’t have whipped me.Magic Slim
He Got His Stage Name From Magic Sam
Morris Holt went to Chicago in 1955 to play bass guitar in his old friend and neighbour Sam Maghett, better known as Magic Sam’s band. While he was there Sam called him Magic Slim because of his height and how thin he was.
Before Magic Sam died he told Slim to keep the name (Magic Slim) because it would make him famous one day.
Man, I was just slim and tall and he got to calling me Magic Slim, and right before he died, he told me to keep that name … that it would make me famous someday. So I did and here I am.Magic Slim
He Started Out Playing Piano
When Morris was a youngster he learned to play piano and played at church as well as singing in the church choir. But when he was 13 he lost his pinky finger in an accident on the farm. He got his pinky caught in a cotton gin.
As a result of that he couldn’t play piano any more so he turned his attention to the guitar.
He Never Used A Slide
In many Magic Slim songs you’ll be able to identify the sound of a slide, but Magic Slim never used one. He used his finger as a slide. He said he never used a glass or anything, just his finger.
When He First Went To Chicago, He Never Impressed Many Musicians
When Slim first got to Chicago in 1955, his guitar playing wasn’t really up to much. Eventually he went back home to Mississippi to hone his skills. Then in 1965 he went back to Chicago and it wasn’t too long before he embarked on the career which would last for the rest of his life.
Well, a lot of them guys said I couldn’t play, so I went back to Mississippi, and then when I got back there (to Chicago in 1965), I was ready for ‘em.Magic Slim
He Took Over An Existing Band
When he returned to Chicago in 1965, Magic Slim got a job in a band called “Mr. Pitiful & The Teardrops”. When Robert Perkins AKA “Mr. Pitiful” left, Slim took over and kept the band name “The Teardrops”.
By 1978 Magic Slim And The Teardrops had started recording more frequently.
He Took Two Of His Brothers With Him
When Morris returned to Chicago in 1965 he took two of his brothers back with him. His brother Nick Holt played bass guitar and Douglas “Baby Lee” Holt played drums.
He Made It Big In France
After many years of playing local shows around the Chicago area, Magic Slim And The Teardrops recorded their first album for the French label MCM, “Born Under A Bad Sign” in 1977. He toured Europe in 1978 and also developed a large fanbase in Lincoln Nebraska, USA.
One Of His Albums Featured Popa Chubby
On Magic Slim’s 2002 album “Blue Magic” the producer and featured artist on some tracks is Popa Chubby. Chubby is a respected blues artist who was born Theodore Joseph “Ted” Horowitz in The Bronx, New York City, USA.
He Moved To Lincoln Nebraska
Magic Slim and The Teardrops proved to be incredibly popular in the college town of Lincoln, Nebraska. They had been playing at the “Zoo Bar” for many years. The people of Lincoln, Nebraska became so receptive to Magic Slim, that when he became tired of City life in Chicago, he took his family to live there.
He Played At A Swedish Rock Festival In 2004
At the 2004 Sweden Rock Festival which was held between June 10-12 2004 at Solvesborg (and annually since 1994) Magic Slim And The Teardrops performed on the same stage as Europe, the Scorpions and Judas Priest.
His Son Is A Blues Guitarist Too
Magic Slim was often accompanied onstage by his son Shawn Holt who is an accomplished singer and guitarist. After Morris passed away, Shawn started to perform with The Teardrops taking over his father’s role in the band.
He Started Playing Bluegrass And Country & Western Music
Magic Slim said in an interview that during the weekends when he wasn’t working on the farm, he used to listen to the radio. He started to play country & Western and bluegrass music. Then he heard “Boogie Chillen” by John Lee Hooker, and that inspired him to play the blues.
He Performed With James Cotton
At the 2005 Rauma Blues Festival in Finland, Magic Slim performed with the legendary harmonica player James Cotton. Slim called Cotton onstage during his set at the Kukko Areena in Rauma, Finland.
He Has His Own Unique Style – Mississippi/Chicago Blues
Magic Slim said many blues guitarists tried to alter their sound to make it too funky. He also said that wasn’t necessarily a problem, but he would always be sticking to his style of music. And he did, over the years he refined it to a unique sound that many have tried to replicate. It has been said that Magic Slim and The teardrops were “The last real Chicago blues band”. In fact as Blues Revue said;
Whoever the house band in blues heaven may be, even money says they’re wearing out Magic Slim albums trying to get that Teardrops sound down cold.Blues Revue
He Never Played The Same Set Twice
Magic Slim had an almost encyclopaedic memory of hundreds of blues songs which meant he could change the set at will. He once said in an interview that he could read the audience and see which songs they responded to best and he played various songs in accordance with how he felt the audience was responding.
His Band Was Awarded The WC Handy Award 6 Times
Magic Slim And The Teardrops were awarded the W C Handy Award for Best Blues Band Of The Year for the 6th time in 2003. They first won the award in 1981.
He Often Performed With Nebraskan Band The Kris Lager Band
After moving to Nebraska, Magic Slim often performed with local band The Kris Lager Band. He featured Slim on his song “Kris Done Took My Woman” taken from the album “Swagadocious” released in 2012.
He Opened For Pearl Jam
Magic Slim And The Teardrops were not only influential in the Chicago blues scene. Eddie Vedder, the frontman for Pearl Jam was a big fan, and when Pearl Jam played in Chicago in 1994 he asked Magic Slim And The Teardrops to open for the band.
He Has A Marker On The Mississippi Blues Trail
On July 25th 2011, the Mississippi Blues Trail placed a marker for Magic Slim on Union Street in Grenada. Morris Holt and his family lived at 818 Union Street while he was a youngster. His mother worked in a cafe not far from the family home.
How Many More Can You Think Of?
That’s our 20 impressive facts about Magic Slim you didn’t know. How many more can you think of? We’d love to hear them, please tell us about them in the comments.
Frequently Asked Questions
Magic Slim’s real name is Morris Holt, he was given the nickname “Magic Slim” by the famous bluesman Magic Sam. He said it was because he was tall and thin at the time.
Magic Slim was born in Torrance, Mississippi, USA on August 7th 1937 and was named Morris Holt.
Magic Slim’s first instrument was the piano, but he said after losing his pinky finger in an accident on the farm, he had to give up the piano and so took up the guitar.
The title of Magic Slim’s first album was “Born Under A Bad Sign” which was released in 1977.
Magic Slim said he used to play country & Western music and bluegrass until he heard John Lee Hooker on the radio and took up the blues.
Due to how popular he was there and how welcoming the people were, Magic Slim moved himself and his family to Lincoln, Nebraska, USA.
Magic Sam gave Magic Slim his nickname and told him to keep it because one day it would make him famous. He said he gave him the nickname Magic Slim because he was tall and thin at that time.
The band that featured Magic Slim on their 2012 album “Swagadocious” was the Kris Lager Band who used to jam with Magic Slim in Lincoln, Nebraska.
The blues artist that was featured on Magic Slim’s 2002 album “Blue Magic” was Popa Chubby who produced the album and played second guitar on some of the tracks.
Magic Slim lost his pinky finger when he caught it in a cotton gin when he was helping his parents who were sharecroppers when he was a child.
The Magic Slim song that contains the lines “I got the blues, deep down in my heart, I love you baby, please don’t let us part” is “I’m A Bluesman” which was taken from the album “Blues Magic”.
The famous rock band that Magic Slim opened for in Chicago 1994 was Pearl Jam. Eddie Vedder was a big Magic Slim fan and asked if he would open for them when they performed in Chicago.
The famous harmonica player that Magic Slim called up on stage at the 2005 Rauma Blues Festival in Finland was James Cotton.
Magic Slim’s son is Shawn Holt and he often used to appear onstage with his father and the Teardrops.
At the 2004 Sweden Rock Festival which was held between June 10-12 2004 at Solvesborg (and annually since 1994) Magic Slim And The Teardrops performed on the same stage as Europe, Scorpions and Judas Priest.