Elvis, ZZ Top, The Rolling Stones, The Grateful Dead, John Hammond, The Steve Miller Band, Neil Young, Van Halen.
Q: Which musician had a big enough impact on these artists THEY ALL recorded his music?
A: Jimmy Reed.
Reed is remembered for his recording of the song “Big Boss Man” (songwriting credits to Luther Dixon and Al Smith), but also for his laid back, if not lazy, sound. For a beginning guitarist, he was total inspiration – and he still is to so many. Learning the rhythm to a Jimmy Reed song not only sounded like something, but it felt like it, too. It’s one thing to see/hear someone like Bob Dylan or Neil Young play guitar and then top it off with a harmonica in a neck rack, but they don’t compare to the feeling of Jimmy Reed.
Reed’s music has been covered by famous rock n rollers, country stars, blues artists, bar bands, and everything in between. One of my favorite YouTube videos is this version of Jimmy Reed’s somewhat obscure song called “Mr. Luck”.
(The song can be found on the confusingly-titled album Jimmy Reed at Carnegie Hall. It doesn’t sound like a live recording because it’s not a live recording.)
Going back to the mainstream, Reed’s song “Bright Lights, Big City” has also been recorded dozens of times and appears in pop culture from time to time. I remember the song (written by Reed) appeared in the film Backbeat about The Beatles’ early days in Hamburg. More recently, guitarist Jimmie Vaughan (The Fabulous Thunderbirds/Stevie Ray’s older brother) partnered with Omar Kent Dykes (Omar & The Howlers) for a tribute album called On the Jimmy Reed Highway.
(This will not be my last article about the great, yet still underrated, Jimmy Reed. )
Keep your Mojo on the Horizon!