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Piano Red Biography

James Wheeler, 14 September 1933, Montevallo, Alabama, USA. By day a cab driver, in the evenings James Wheeler transforms himself into Chicago boogie-woogie legend, Piano C. Red. His first yearnings to be involved in music were inspired by his mother, who sang spiritual songs around the house. He was tutored by a local piano player known as Fat Lilly, who was initially reluctant until Wheeler bribed him with moonshine whiskey. Wheeler moved to Chicago in 1956. He began his recording career with Chess Records in 1963, recording versions of "Slow Down And Cool It" and "Hundred And Two". He also shared a stage with many of the blues greats of the time, including Elmore James, Muddy Waters and Memphis Slim. However, like many of his ilk, he never enjoyed access to a full-time recording contract. By the 90s, when he finally began to achieve more than local acclaim, he had retired to performing only occasional sets at selected Chicago restaurants and cafés. Despite this, he and his Flat Foot Boogie Band consistently play engaging, Little Richard/Ray Charles-styled pop-blues well into the early hours. Among his best compositions is the autobiographical "Cab Drivin' Man", which was also the title of his debut album.

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

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