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Jimmy Reed (1925-1976)

Jimmy Reed

The Bossman

Mathis James "Jimmy" Reed (September 6, 1925 - August 29, 1976) was an American blues singer notable for bringing his distinctive style of blues to mainstream audiences. Jimmy Reed was a major player in the field of electric blues, as opposed to the more acoustic-based sound of many of his contemporaries. Jimmy Reed was born in Dunleith, Mississippi in 1925, learning the harmonica and guitar from Eddie Taylor, a close friend. After spending several years busking and performing in the area, Jimmy Reed moved to Chicago, Illinois in 1943 before being drafted into the United States Navy during World War II. In 1945, Jimmy Reed was discharged and moved back to Mississippi for a brief period, marrying his girlfriend, Mary "Mama" Reed, before moving to Gary, Indiana to work at an Armour & Co. meat packing plant. By the 1950s, Jimmy Reed had established himself as a popular local musician and joined the Gary Kings with John Brim, as well as playing on the street with Willie Joe Duncan. Jimmy Reed failed to gain a contract with Chess Records, but then signed with Vee-Jay Records through John Brim's drummer, Albert King. At Vee-Jay, Jimmy Reed began playing again with Eddie Taylor and soon released You Don't Have To Go, his first hit song. This was followed by a long string of hits. Jimmy Reed maintained his reputation, in spite of rampant alcoholism. Sometimes, his wife had to help him remember the lyrics to his songs while performing. In 1957, Jimmy Reed developed epilepsy, though the disease was not correctly diagnosed for a long time, as Jimmy Reed and doctors assumed it was delirium tremens. In spite of his numerous hits, Jimmy Reed's personal problems prevented him from achieving the same level of fame as other popular blues artists of the time, though he had more hit songs than many others. When Vee-Jay Records closed down, Jimmy Reed's manager signed a contract with the fledgling ABC-Bluesway label, but Jimmy Reed was never able to score another hit. Jimmy Reed died in Oakland, California in 1976, a few days short of his 51st birthday. He is interred in the Lincoln Cemetery in Worth, Illinois. In 1991 Jimmy Reed was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. (quoted from

Visit also these related Sites:

Jimmy Reed Tribute Pages

Biographical Information on Jimmy Reed

Various Articles on Jimmy Reed

Reviews and Critiques of Jimmy Reed Live Performances and Recordings

Jimmy Reed Interviews

Jimmy Reed Lyrics

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Jimmy Reed Discographies

Jimmy Reed Audio Files

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