On Thursday Feb. 21, 2013 Morris ‘Magic Slim’ Holt passed away. He died shortly after midnight in a Philadelphia hospital. While on tour in Pennsylvania several weeks ago, he was hospitalized. He had bleeding ulcers according to his manager Marty Salzman. Mr. Holt also had problems with his lungs, heart and kidneys.
Magic Slim’s funeral service will be held on Saturday March 2, 2013 in Lincoln, Neb. at the Horizons Community Church at 10:00 a.m.
Morris Holt was born in Torrence, Mississippi on Aug. 7, 1937. His parents were sharecroppers who lived on a farm. He showed his talents early singing in the church choir and playing piano. Unfortunately at the age of thirteen he had an accident with a cotton gin. His pinky got caught on a wire and before he knew it, he lost the finger. Not being able to play the piano any longer, he turned to the guitar. He made his first guitar by using wire from his mother’s broom by nailing it to the wall. When his mother found out what he did with her broom, she gave him a whooping. She later said she wouldn’t have done it if she knew where it would lead him.
Magic Slim arrived in Chicago in 1955 to play bass for Magic Sam. Magic Sam was a friend from back home. Sam gave him tips on playing guitar and gave him his nickname too. In those days Slim was lean and tall.
Discouraged because of fierce competition on Chicago’s south side, he returned home after not being able to establish himself. He persevered by honing his skills playing plantation parties and small gigs. With brothers Nick and Douglas, he returned to Chicago and formed the Teardrops.
On the advice of Magic Sam, Slim created his own sound. His style was a tough and cutting tone, combining vibrato by holding his fingers against the strings to make it sound like a slide guitar while being able to bend the note.
Slim became a younger contemporary of Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf. Together they shaped the sound of Chicago’s electric blues. Although younger than most of the bluesmen of the day, he was able to establish himself and carry on into the 21st century.
He recorded for many labels and put out twenty something records. His first record came out in 1977 and was called ‘Born Under a Bad Sign’. His last release came out in 2012 and was called ‘Bad Boy’. Magic Slim and the Teardrops won blues band of the year at the 2003 Blues Music Awards.
During the 1970’s Magic Slim and the Teardrops played both south and north side clubs and gained a huge following. Europe embraced them as well with tours and record releases.
In 1994, Magic Slim moved to Lincoln, Nebraska. He had played the world famous Zoo Bar there many times over the years. He also wanted to get his son out of Chicago.
There are tributes planned both in Lincoln and in Chicago. All proceeds will go to his wife Ann. The Chicago benefit will be held at Mayne Stage in Chicago on Thursday March 28, 2013.