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St. Louis Jimmy Oden

Blues pianist and composer St. Louis Jimmy was born James Burke Oden on June 26, 1903, in Nashville, Tennessee. He moved to St. Louis in 1917, where he performed and picked up his name. Along with fellow pianist Roosevelt Sykes, he moved to Chicago in 1932. Oden recorded regularly during the 1930s and 1940s, scoring a big blues hit with “Going Down Slow” for Bluebird in 1941. This song alone has become an enduring blues classic and has been covered countless times over.

His most sustained success was as a songwriter during the post war years in Chicago, where he was supplying songs to a range of artists, from Muddy Waters and Little Walter to Otis Spann and others.

Always dissatisfied with his own playing, he usually was recorded as a singer, accompanied by his friends, Roosevelt Sykes and Sunnyland Slim. He continued to record quite prolifically throughout the ‘50’s, until a car accident slowed him down. Though he did attempt a few sides early in the decade,most of his 1960's period was associated with composing.

Though he was never able to duplicate the success of “Goin' Down Slow,” the song is St. Louis Jimmy's legacy to the blues.

Source: James Nadal

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