He came into the world in Memphis as John Len Chatman, and took the name Peter to honor his father, who ran a juke joint. Now everyone knows him as Slim—Memphis Slim. A composer, bandleader, pianist and singer, he grew up pounding the ivories in honky tonks and gambling halls along the Mississippi River.
Memphis Slim moved to Chicago in 1939—where his career really took off. Backing the likes of Big Bill Broonzy and Washboard Sam, he became the best accompanist in the business.
Soon his prodigious talent demanded the spotlight. He was so good that ‘fore long the men he looked up to as idols were looking to up to him. Memphis Slim developed a sound that would be imitated by pretty much every musician of his time—and every blues piano player after him. Memphis Slim wasn’t just a piano-man though—he was a soul-wrenching vocalist and killer songwriter. Here’s one of his best known songs. “Every Day I Have the Blues.”