On This day – Goodbye Jimmy Reed

Jimmy Reed - Big Boss Blues - Front29th August 1976, Jimmy Reed died after an epileptic seizure at the age of 50. Jimmy Reed influenced many later guitarists with his distinctive sound. He also wrote many songs, perhaps the most noticeable was “Bright Lights, Big City” (a personal favourite of mine).

He did not manage to get signed by Chess records but was signed by Vee-Jay and scored a number of hits. However, his problems with alcohol and his epilepsy prevented him from becoming as big a star as some of his contemporaries. Never the less many artists have quoted JR as being a large influence on their work. The Rolling Stones cited JR as being a large influence on their early material and their sound. Compare “Not fade Away” and “Shame, Shame, Shame” and the influence is obvious.

“Bright Lights, Big City” has been covered by Van Morrison, amongst others while The Grateful Dead covered “Big Boss Man”. Elvis covered a number of his songs.

Two of his recordings “Big Boss Man” and Bright Lights, Big City” were voted onto Eock and Roll Hall of Fame’s “500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll”


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