Mathis James Reed, 6 September 1925, Leland, Mississippi, USA, d. 29 August 1976, Oakland, California, USA. Jimmy Reed was a true original: he sang in a lazy mush-mouthed ramble, played limited, if instantly recognizable, harmonica, and even more minimal guitar. He produced a series of hits in the 50s that made him the most successful blues singer of the era.
Reed was born into a large sharecropping family and spent his early years on Mr. Johnny Colliers plantation situated near Dunleith, Mississippi. Here, he formed a childhood friendship with Eddie Taylor which was to have a marked effect on his later career. Reed sang in church and learned rudimentary guitar along with Taylor, but while the latter progressed Reed never became more than basically competent on the instrument. He left school in 1939 and found work farming around Duncan and Meltonia, Mississippi. Around 1943-44 he left the south to find work in Chicago where...
Jimmy Reed was perhaps the most accessible of all the Bluesman of his time. He distinctly influenced the music of such diversified artists as Elvis Presley, The Rolling Stones, Paul Butterfield, John Mayall, Slim Harpo and Johnny Winter. Reed began his musical journey in Mississippi and was eventually discovered by Chicago's Vee-Jay Records in the early 1950s. Jimmy Reed became the most successful Blues artist of all time, placing eleven songs on the Billboard Hot 100 Pop charts and a total of fourteen hits on the R&B charts.