Slim Harpo

January 11, 1924 – January 31, 1970

Recording history: late 1950’s through the 1960’s for the Excello label

Also recorded with: Lightnin’ Slim

Important/historic recordings: “I’m a King Bee”, “I Got Love If You Want It”, “Rainin’ In My Heart”, “Baby Scratch My Back”

Random fact: Slim Harpo’s music seemed to find just the right mix of blues, country, rhythm & blues, & rock-n-roll sensibilities to help his music gain a very widespread audience.  His music has not only been covered by blues bands worldwide, but also by the likes of The Rolling Stones, The Kinks, Otis Redding, Pink Floyd, The Yardbirds, Hank Williams Jr, Booker T. & The MG’s, The Doors, and many more.

About: Born James Moore outside of Baton Rouge, LA. Orphaned while still in school, the young James Moore started playing at juke joints, parties, and street corners (then performing under the name “Harmonica Slim”). Discovered by & performed with Lightnin’ Slim, who also led him to the Excello Records label. His moniker of “Harmonica Slim” was already in use, and so his name then got changed to “Slim Harpo” before his first recording (“I’m a King Bee”) got pressed.

That first record (“I’m a King Bee” backed with “I Got Love If You Want It”) became a two-sided R&B hit and many more hits followed. Songs like “Rainin’ In My Heart”, “Baby Scratch My Back”, “Shake Your Hips”, “Tee Ni Nee Ni Nu” followed and Slim Harpo proved to have what it takes to cross over into the country & rock-n-roll audience, while remaining a popular & influential blues artist. His musical style was downhome and with a strong rhythmic emphasis, while his harp playing was straight-ahead, simple, melodic, and always in the groove. He died of a heart attack at age 46 in 1970.

Recommended Recordings in-print:

  • “I’m a King Bee”- Ace (great set of earlier tracks from Excello)
  • “Tip On In” - Ace (great set of later tracks from Excello)
  • “Sting It Then (Slim Harpo LIVE)” – Ace (cool LIVE set recorded in 1961)

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