Sunday, December 23, 2012

Jimmy McCracklin RIP

Jimmy McCracklin at 2008 Pocono Blues Festival
Photo © Ron Weinstock
Jimmy McCracklin, a fixture on the San Francisco Blues Scene for over six decades passed away, Thursday, June 20, 2012 at the age of 91. He was raised in St. Louis and his main influence would be Walter Davis, the popular recording artist. After a stint in the Navy, he relocated to the West Coast and was a mainstay of the blues scene there for over 65 years.

He first recorded in 1945 and later recorded prolifically for a variety of labels turning out numerous recordings ranging to thoughtful songs on the relations between the sexes including "My Time Is Limited," "Just Got To Know," "Yesterday Is Gone", "Every Day and Every Night" and "Think," along with dance numbers like "The Georgia Slop," and "The Walk." Some of his recordings were quite humorous like his adaptation of Memphis Slim's "Beer Drinking Woman," along with its sequel "Couldn't Be a Dream."

McCracklin's Band became known as the Blues Blasters and while in its early days included guitarist Robert Kelton, he was replaced by guitarist Lafayette 'Thing' Thomas who had a lengthy association with McCracklin and was guitarist on many of his most famous recordings including "The Walk." Add a booting sax and one had a group that could handle sober songs about relations breaking up, hot dance numbers and grooving boogies like "Club Savoy" about the Richmond, California club McCracklin played for years (set to the melody of Amos Milburn's "Chicken Shack Boogie").

His music was recorded by numerous artists including "Tramp," a hit for Lowell Fulson and then Otis Redding and Carla Thomas. Lonesome Sundown and Phillip Walker did a cover of "Stepping Up In Class," while Los Lobos revived "Georgia Slop." Freddy King incorporated part of "The Walk"into his classic "Hideaway," while Magic Sam covered "Every Day and Every Night" as performed "I Want To Know" in his live performances.

It was not simply the fact he was one of the blues strongest lyricists and song writers that made him important. He was a marvelous performer who I had the pleasure of finally seeing in 2008 at the Pocono Blues Festival where his performance belied the fact he was 87 at the time.

Here are some links of obituaries for him:

Jimmy McCracklin East Bay Blues Legend Dies.

Bay Area Blues Legend Had 65 Year Old Career

NY Times - Jimmy McCracklin, R&B Singer and Songwriter, Dies at 91

And here is the link to Bill Dahl's All Music Guide Entry as well as limited Discography.

Here is a video of Jimmy talking about himself, the blues and performing.

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