Bumble Bee Slim

by Andrew Eckenrode, UNC Asheville Student

 


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This disc (DOCD-5263) and others 
available from Document Records.

Full Name: Amos Easton

Recorded under: Bumble Bee Slim

Born: May 7, 1905 in Brunswick, GA
Died: 1968 in Los Angeles, CA

Instrument: Guitar (and vocals)

Biographical Sketch

Bumble Bee Slim was born in Brunswick, GA. Shortly after he became a teenager he moved away from home to join the circus. He traveled with the circus across the Midwest until he finally settled in Indianapolis. Here, he would often play at dances and small halls, but not much else. In his early days as a musician, he was highly influenced by the likes of Leroy Carr and Scrapper Blackwell. During this time Easton was also looking to pursue careers in either comedy or acting. It wasn’t until around 1930, when he moved to Chicago, that he finally got recognition for his music and decided on the musical direction that he wanted to go in. He recorded “Stumbling Block Blues,” “Yo Yo String Blues,” and four others for the struggling record label  Paramount. During the mid-1930s Slim was writing and recording rapidly and outselling many of his contemporaries. Between 1934-1937, Bumble Bee Slim recorded over 150 sides for Vocalion, Bluebird, and Decca. Even after such a prolific period, Slim was dropped by all three labels in 1938. After this setback he moved out west to Los Angeles and became musically inactive for an entire decade. He started back up again briefly in the 1950s, when he recorded for labels such as Fidelity, Marigold, Specialty. He recorded his last album in 1962 for Pacific Jazz. For the remainder of his career Slim stuck to playing in small California clubs until his death in 1968. Bumble Bee Slim was a forgotten legend of his time. Although his instrumental skills are considered less accomplished than many of his contemporaries, he is remembered for his ability to write great blues lyrics and his vocal delivery.

Books

All Music Guide to the Blues, 3rd ed. Ed. by Vladimir Bogdanov, Chris Woodstra, and Stephen Thomas Erlewine. San Francisco: Backbeat Books, 2003. <http://www.allmusic.com>

Bastin, Bruce. Red River Blues: The Blues Tradition of the Southeast. University of Illinois Press, 1986. (brief mention)

Cohn, Lawrence. Nothing But the Blues. New York: Abbeville Press, 1993.

Herzhaft, Gerard. Encyclopedia of the Blues. Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 1992.

McNeil, W.K. Program Notes. The Blues: Smithsonian Collection of Classic Blues Singers [CD Box set]. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Collection, 1993.

Oliver, Paul. The Story of the Blues. Philadelphia: Chilton, 1969

Articles

Aschoff, Peter R. "Reissue Reviews - Bumble Bee Slim: 'The Blues From Georgia To Chicago, 1931-1937.' Living Blues 31 (September-October 2000): 88-89.

Chaigne, Michel, and Chaigne, Pierre. “Bumble Bee Slim: Discographie revisee de Bumble Bee Slim/Amos Easton.” Soul Bag [France] 102 (March/April 1985): 11-16.

Key Recordings on CD

Bumble Bee Slim: The Essential. CBL-200031 

Bumble Bee Slim. Complete Recorded Works Vol. 1-9. Document DOCD 5261-2568, 5570.

 


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Last updated 18 December 2003.