born September 26, 1925 in Dunleith, Mississippi
died August 29, 1976 location unknown (heart attack
Jimmy Reed was one of the more influential bluesmen of the post War era. Reed sold more records in the 1950s and early 1960s than any other blues artist save B.B. King
. His "sweet" blues style taken from the Delta bluies
groundwork had a profound effect on rock groups including the Rolling Stones
, Grateful Dead
and solo artists like Bob Dylan
, Koko Taylor
and Etta James
Reed regularly crossed over onto the pop charts, with his non-threatening vocals, gentle harmonica riffs, and walking bass
Reed's success must be accredited to guitarist Eddie Taylor
, his constant companion and the creator of the rhythms that fueled Reed's blues. Born and raised in Mississippi
, where he met Taylor, who It taught him the guitar.
Reed moved to Chicago in 1943; shortly thereafter he was drafted and served in the navy
until the end of World War II
. After his discharge, moved to Gary, Indiana
. In 1949 he teamed up with Taylor who had moved to Chicago in the interum, and the two began playing small clubs.
Reed resettled in Chicago
in 1953, and a recording session for the Chance
label that year was followed by an audition with Chess Records
, which the duo failed. Reed and Taylor next tried Vee-Jay Records
and were signed.
Beginning in 1955, Jimmy Reed amassed an impressive string of hits that stretched into late 1961. It began with "You Don't Have to Go
," continued with "Ain't That Lovin' You Baby
," "You Got Me Dizzy
," "Honest I Do
," "Baby What Do You Want Me to Do
(reached 37 on the pop charts)," "Big Boss Man
," and ended with "Bright Lights Big City
In the early '60s Reed played Carnegie Hall and the Apollo Theater and toured England, where he was a big star thanks to covers of his songs by the Stones.
In the 1970s Reed continued to tour and perform regularly, though his alcoholism began to take a toll on him. Reed died in 1976. He was inducted into the Blues Foundation's Hall of Fame in 1980 and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1991.