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John Chatman (Memphis Slim)

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(Redirected from Memphis Slim)

Memphis Slim (1915 in Memphis, Tennessee-1988 Paris, France) was a blues pianist and singer. His birth name was John Len Chatman and he also performed under the name Peter Chatman, an homage to his father. He composed the blues standards "Every Day I Have the Blues" and "Mother Earth". He was a big man with a big voice and an immaculate touch on the piano.

After an early career in Memphis, where he emulated barrelhouse piano players like Roosevelt Sykes and Speckled Red, he moved to Chicago, Illinois and signed with Okeh Records in 1939 and also recoreded for Bluebird Records. He played piano as Big Bill Broonzy's partner until 1944. Broonzy, also a sophisticated performer, urged him to develop his own style. This polish gave Memphis Slim opportunities not only in the juke joints he had been playing, but also "uptown" night clubs.

In 1944, he set out with his own jump blues band, recording his most famous numbers on Hy-Tone Records. In later years, he had memorable partnerships with guitarist Matt Murphy and legendary bassman Willie Dixon. After a European tour with Dixon, he left the United States in 1962 and moved permanently to Paris, where he had a thriving career. In all, he recorded more than 20 albums under his own name and appeared on many more recordings as a sideman.

Peter Chatman was the performance name used early in his career; Peter was his father's name. Although he performed under the name Memphis Slim for most of his career, he continued to publish songs under the name Peter Chatman.

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