Lightnin' Slim on the cover of the album
Winter Time Blues (Ace Records)
|Otis Verries Hicks|
March 13, 1913|
St. Louis, Missouri, or
Good Pine, Louisiana, United States
|Died||July 27, 1974
Detroit, Michigan, United States
|Genres||Louisiana blues, swamp blues|
|Guitarist, singer, songwriter|
|Labels||Excello, Stateside, Flyright|
"Hoo Doo Blues"
from the 1971 album High and Low Down
Otis Verries Hicks, known as Lightnin' Slim (March 13, 1913 - July 27, 1974), was an African-American Louisiana blues musician, who recorded for Excello Records and played in a style similar to its other Louisiana artists. The blues critic ED Denson ranked him as one of the five great bluesmen of the 1950s, along with Muddy Waters, Little Walter, Howlin' Wolf and Sonny Boy Williamson.
According to most sources, Otis Hicks was born on a farm outside St. Louis, Missouri, but the researchers Bob Eagle and Eric LeBlanc stated, on the basis of his draft card, that he was born in Good Pine, Louisiana. He moved to Baton Rouge at the age of thirteen. Taught guitar by his older brother Layfield, Slim was playing in bars in Baton Rouge by the late 1940s.
His first recording was "Bad Luck Blues" ("If it wasn't for bad luck, I wouldn't have no luck at all"), released by J. D. "Jay" Miller's Feature Records in 1954. Slim then recorded for Excello Records for twelve years, starting in the mid-1950s, often collaborating with his brother-in-law Slim Harpo and with the harmonica player Lazy Lester.
Slim stopped performing the blues for a time and eventually worked in a foundry in Pontiac, Michigan, as a result of which his hands were constantly exposed to high temperatures. He was rediscovered by Fred Reif in 1970, in Pontiac, where he was living in a rented room at Slim Harpo's sister's house. Reif soon got him back performing again and a new recording contract with Excello, this time through Bud Howell, then the president of the company. His first engagement was a reunion concert in 1971 at the University of Chicago Folk Festival with Lazy Lester, whom Reif had brought from Baton Rouge in January of that year.
In the 1970s, Slim performed on tours in Europe, in the United Kingdom and at the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland, for which he was often accompanied by Moses "Whispering" Smith on harmonica. He last toured the UK in 1973, with the American Blues Legends package.
Slim has been cited as a major influence by several contemporary blues artists, including Captain Beefheart.