James "Slim Harpo" Moore

"...What's the point in listening to us doing I'm a King Bee when you can hear Slim Harpo do it?"
--Mick Jagger, 1968
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Biography

James Moore (also known as Harmonica Slim and Slim Harpo) was born on January (or February) 11, 1924 in Lobdell, Louisana and raised in Port Allen, Louisana. During the 1940's Moore taught himself how to play the harmonica and began working jukes, clubs, parties, and picnics in Louisiana, traveling as "Harmonica Slim", which continued into the 1950's. In the mid-1950's Moore became a professional musician and began recording for Excello in 1955, first accompanying Lightnin' Slim, then as featured artist under the name "Slim Harpo" which continued until 1969 except for a release on Imperial, based in New Orleans, in 1962. He began touring the southern part of the United States working one-nighters in the 1960's. Moore also worked with Lightnin' Slim in local clubs in Chicago during 1967 and in the late 1960's he worked the blues/rock scene in New York City and Los Angeles. On January 31, 1970 at the peak of his fame, James "Harmonica Slim/Slim Harpo" Moore died in Baton Rouge, Lousiana of a heart attack and is buried in Port Allen, Louisana.

Harpo was a big influence on British blues-rockers of the mid-Sixties. The Rolling Stones recorded I'm a King Bee and Shake Your Hips. The Kinks recorded Got Love If You Want It which was also recorded by the Pretty Things, who also recorded Raining in My Heart. Van Morrison covered Don't Start Crying Now. Dave Edmonds and Love Sculpture recorded Shake Your Hips before the Stones and the Moody Blues took their name from a Slim Harpo instrumental. Rockabilly pioneer Warren Smith recorded Got Love If You Want It in 1957 and Hank Williams Jr. had a country hit with Raining In My Heart. Slim's favorite performers were B.B. King, Howlin' Wolf, Muddy Waters, and most of all Blind Lemon Jefferson.

Discography

James "Slim Harpo" Moore (vocal, guitar, harmonica) on:

1957 Crowley, Louisiana I'm a King Bee; Got Love If You Want It.
1961 Crowley, Louisiana Rainin' in My Heart; Don't Start Crying Now
1966 Crowley, Louisiana Baby Scratch My Back
1957-66? Crowley, Louisiana Moody Blues
1967 Nashville, Tennessee Tip On In


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Joel Snow
Created July 16, 1996
Revised September 11, 1997