Magic Slim (born Morris Holt, August 7, 1937, Grenada, Mississippi.
Magic Slim was forced to give up playing the piano when he lost his little finger in a cotton gin mishap. He first went to Chicago in 1955 with his friend and mentor Magic Sam. The elder Magic (Sam) let the younger Magic (Slim) play bass with his band, and gave him his nickname. The nickname had to be from some time ago – as you can see from the fairly recent photograph, ‘Slim’ would have to be ironic at best!
His trio, ‘The Teardrops’ perform what I would describe as a ‘classic’ no frills Chicago Blues format, gets right to the point – reminiscent of what was going on about the time he was born. You could almost guess what he looks like from his voice which is big, full of character and fits the genre perfectly. For reasons I don’t know Magic Slim has lost his two front teeth but somehow this only adds to his character, certainly doesn’t lessen his performance powers – I hope I’m still performing at 74!
At first Slim was not rated very highly by his peers. He returned to Mississippi to work and got his younger brother Nick interested in playing bass. By 1965 he was back in Chicago and in 1970 Nick joined him in his group, ‘The Teardrops’. They played in the dim, smoke-filled juke joints popular in Chicago in the 1970s on band stands barely large enough to hold the band. (Fair to say they were lucky to have a stage at all, in many places you just set up, jack in and get rolling.)
Slim’s recording career began in 1966, with the song ‘Scufflin’ ’, followed by a number of singles into the mid 1970s. He recorded his first album in 1977, ‘Born Under A Bad Sign’, for the French MCM label. During the 1980s, Slim released titles on Alligator, Rooster Blues and Wolf Records and won his first W.C.Handy Award. In 1980 he recorded his cover version of ‘Mustang Sally’.
In 1982 the guitarist John Primer joined the Teardrops and stayed and played for him for 13 years. Releases include ‘Spider in My Stew’ on Wolf Records, and a 1996 ‘Blind Pig’ release (a re-recording) called ‘Scufflin’,’ which presented the line-up with the new addition of the guitarist and singer, Jake Dawson.
In 1994 Slim moved to Lincoln, Nebraska, where the Zoo Bar had been booking him for years. Slim is frequently accompanied by his son Shawn (Lil’ Slim) Holt, a guitarist and singer.
In 2003 Magic Slim and the Teardrops won the W.C. Handy Award as ‘Blues Band Of The Year’ for the sixth time. Magic Slim and the Teardrops nailed down a live performance that was released on CD and DVD in August 2005, entitled ‘Anything Can Happen’.