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I started a quest to find terrific blues music and incredible musicianship when I was just a little kid. I also have a tremendous appreciation of fine musical instruments and equipment. One of my greatest joys all of my life was sharing my finds with my friends. I'm now publishing my journey. I hope that you come along!

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Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Whammy in the Gizmo - Piano Slim

Born Robert T. Smith, a resident of St. Louis where he is known as Piano Slim. He paid his dues way back in the '40s and '50s in Houston, Texas working among such first rate bluesman as Gatemouth Brown, Little Willie Littlefield, and Henry Hayes. It was there that he made his first record for a small label that also starred Smokey Hogg.

In 1959 he moved to St. Louis and recorded '"Workin' Again" for the local Bobbin label, released along with the works of Albert King and Little Milton. In St. Louis Slim played in about any club or bar worth mentioning and today there are no signs of him slowing down.

His first album for the Swingmaster label, "Mean Woman Blues", was recorded in August of 1981. Other recordings and singles followed, such as the 1983 album, "Gateway To The Blues". This led to six European tours featuring Piano Slim as either a headliner, supporting act, or sideman. When home in St. Louis, he continued to play the local clubs and work with some of the areas notable bluesmen, such as Tommy Bankhead and J.R. Reed. In 1991, Slim was featured on a compilation of St. Louis' blues artists on the Wolf Records label, called "St. Louis Blues Today". Besides Piano Slim, this album included songs and performances by Tommy Bankhead, Doc Terry, J.R. Reed, Oliver Sam and Johnny Johnson.

During this period, Slim began using a popular local St. Louis band, Blues Inquisition, as his backup band. They performed together at regular engagements and special events through the mid nineties. In 1993 they recorded an album together, "Minnie Skirt", his best produced album to date. Shortly after that album was finished, Slim took another "real job" driving a cab, to help raise his grandson.
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  1. This recording is by the rock-a-billy Piano Slim (Willard Burton) - not the blues Piano Slim (Robert T. Smith) whom this article is about and is pictured.

    1. Thanks Guitar Frank. I have been searching but cannot find a suitable replacement video. Can you help here?



    2. Hey Hey Bman,
      Unfortunately, I don't know of any. There doesn't appear to be any Piano Slim (blues) videos on YouTube, but I think there's a chance some might exist. If I'm not mistaken, the recently deleted James Crutchfield video "Boogaloo City Blues" (actually "Bogalusa Blues") and the R.L. Burnside video "Poor Black Mattie", among others, were recorded in the Netherlands by Swingmaster Records in the early 1980s. Since Slim also recorded for Swingmaster at that time, it seems possible they would have also videotaped him.
      Great website, Bman - you've really got it covered - even a bio of Bat The Hummingbird ... very cool.

  2. Thanks Frank... and still looking. Always wanting more! Let me know of anyone who should be included. Best


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  4. Great article Lot's of information to Read...Great Man Keep Posting and update to People..Thanks The Right Piano