Lightnin' Slim/OTIS









Born Otis Hicks near St. Louis, Missouri in March 1913, his family were sharecroppers and they lived on a farm just outside the city until 1926 when they moved to Louisiana. His brother Layfield taught him the guitar although as a teenager Hicks worked outside the music industry. However by the time he was in his mid twenties he was a regular playing at local parties, picnics and fish fries. His style was very ‘bare’, often accompanied only by a harp and someone keeping beat with a cardboard box. His voice was expressive with an edge, and his simple guitar style was a perfect accompaniment to his rather dark lyrics. After a few years he moved to Baton Rouge and, as Lightnin’ Slim, began playing local bars and clubs. He worked with other local bluesmen like Arthur Kelly and also played for a while with “Big Poppa's Band”.

He soon began working with harp player ‘Schoolboy’ Cleve appearing together in the juke joints and on local radio. He also teamed up with his brother-in-law, Slim Harpo, and they formed a partnership that endured for many years. He began his recording career with the Feature label and his first hit was "Bad Luck". This was followed by at least two further releases before he moved to the Excello label where he achieved good sales in the Southern States. He eventually moved to Detroit where he worked outside of music for a while, performing only on a part time basis. The blues revival of the mid sixties enticed him back and he toured Europe in the early 1970’s. Lightnin’ Slim, a mainstay of Louisiana blues, died from cancer in 1974 aged 61.

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