Sunnyland Slim Biography

Albert Luandrew, 5 September 1907, Vance, Mississippi, USA, d. 17 March 1995, Chicago, Illinois, USA. A seminal figure in the development of the post-war Chicago blues, Sunnyland Slim taught himself piano and organ as a child in Mississippi and spent many years playing around the south, before settling in Chicago in 1942. There he established his reputation with older musicians such as Lonnie Johnson, Tampa Red and Peter J. Clayton (some of his earliest records were issued under the pseudonym Doctor Clayton’s Buddy), but more importantly with the new breed of blues singers and musicians that included figures such as Muddy Waters and Little Walter. In the company of artists such as these, his powerful piano work was to set the standard for underpinning the hard, electric sound associated with Chicago blues in the 50s. He recorded extensively under his own name for many important labels of the period, such as Chess Records, Vee Jay Records and Cobra Records, as well as smaller labels, producing such classic Chicago blues sides as ‘Johnson Machine Gun’, ‘Going Back To Memphis’ and ‘Highway 51’. He was also to be heard accompanying many other important artists of the time, including Robert Lockwood, Floyd Jones and J.B. Lenoir, as well as those already mentioned. He is often credited as having helped younger musicians to get their careers started. Throughout the 60s and 70s, he recorded prolifically and toured widely both in the USA and overseas. In the 80s, although in ill health, he produced albums on his own Airway label, and lent assistance to young players such as Professor Eddie Lusk and Lurrie Bell. He died in 1995 of complications from kidney failure which prompted an immediate reappraisal and a series of reissued albums.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.