Johnny Shines, one of the original Delta blues performers, was born April, 25, 1915 in Frayser, Tennessee, a Memphis suburb. Both his brother and an uncle played guitar, He first started playing in 1932 and early influences included Blind Lemon Jefferson, Lonnie Johnson, Scrapper Blackwell and Charlie Patton, before he attracted the attention of Howlinâ€™ Wolf, and he was known as the Little Wolf.
He started playing professionally by 1933-1934, playing around Memphis with such other artists as Willie Bee Borum, Honey Boy Albert Shaw, his cousin Calvin Frazier and others. While playing he made the acquaintance of Robert Johnson in Helena, Arkansas with whom he traveled with throughout Tennessee, Arkansas, Missouri and other places, even going north to Buffalo and Windsor, Ontario. Johnson deeply influenced Shines guitar playing. Mike Rowe, in his history of Chicago blues, Chicago Breakdown, points to Lonnie Johnson as a major influence of Shinesâ€™ singing.