Slim Harpo

Born James Moore in Lobdell, Louisiana, the eldest in an orphaned family, Moore worked as a longshoreman and building worker during the late 1930s and early 1940s. One of the foremost proponents of post-war rural blues, he began performing in Baton Rouge bars under the name Harmonica Slim. He later accompanied Lightnin' Slim, his brother-in-law, both live and in the studio, before commencing his own recording career in 1957.

Named Slim Harpo by producer Jay Miller, the artist's solo debut coupled “I'm A King Bee” with “I Got Love If You Want It.” Influenced by Jimmy Reed, he began recording for Excello Records, and enjoyed a string of popular R&B singles which combined a drawling vocal with incisive harmonica passages. Among them were “Rainin' In My Heart” (1961), “I Love The Life I Live”, “Buzzin'” (instrumental) and “Little Queen Bee” (1964). On these hits he was accompanied by understated electric backing from the regular stable of Excello musicians • including Lazy Lester, whom Harpo influenced.

The singer was known as one of the masters of the blues harmonica; the name “Slim Harpo” was a humorous takeoff on “slim harp,” the popular nickname for the harmonica in blues circles.

Harpo was the point man of the 1950s Louisiana Swamp/Blues movement. Harpo, along with Lightning Slim, Lazy Lester, Lonesome Sundown, and a dozen other downhome artists, recorded for A&R man J.D. Miller in Crowley, Louisiana. The records were then issued on the Excello label, based in Nashville.

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