Magic Slim and Wolf Records
The Story starts in Chicago in the summer of 1986 – I, Hannes Folterbauer, owner of Wolf Records, went to the Wise Fools Pub to see Magic Slim & The Teardrops perform. Wolf Records was founded in 1982 and had by that time already recorded Chicago greats such as Eddie Taylor, Brewer Philips & The Houserockers, Homesick James, Snooky Pryor and many others. I had seen Slim live for the first time in 1975 in a South Side Club where Bob Koester (Delmark Records) took me.
Since that time I have been a Magic Slim Fan – until today! He was one of the greatest for me – like Howlin´Wolf, Muddy Waters, J.B. Hutto – for me he was J.B. Hutto without the slide. That night at the Wise Fools Pub Slim played a terrific set with John Primer on guitar, Nik Holt on bass and Nate Applewhite on drums.
During a break I went to Slim and asked him if I could make a record with his guitar player, John Primer, because I would not have enough money to pay him! After thinking over for 5 or 10 minutes, Slim asked me: “How much money do you have?” I told him …$. He said to me: “OK. When do you have time for a record session – next Sunday?” So I arranged a recording session in Chicago, wrote down the songs I liked the most at the Wise Fools, and the session could start. Within 6 hours, we recorded Slim & The Teardrops at their best – they (and Wolf Records) won a W.C. Handy Blues Award for that CD! From them on, Wolf Records & Magic Slim worked together for 26 years!
Slim recorded several live and studio CD´s for us, mostly in Europe, but also in the U.S. A CD Together with Nick Holt and one of the Live CD´s – “Live On The Road” – also won a W.C. Handy Blues Award.
A major accomplishment for Slim and Wolf Records was the live 5-CD “Zoo-Bar Collection” Vol. 1-5 and the only acoustic solo CD Slim recorded: Magic Slim “Alone & Unplugged” – thanks to Phil Hammer.
The landmark Band with Jr. Pettis or John Primer as rhythm guitarists plus Slim´s live energy was captured perfectly at the Zoo Bar for posterity.
Slim made many tours to Europe – thanks to Didier Tricard and his mother – and Slim very often visited my hometown, Vienna. However, the largest crowed of people (40.000) came to a festival in Budapest, Hungary. Slim & I never had any problems – one with the size of the beds, I knew I had to arrange for a big bed, otherwise Slim couldn´t rest comfortably!
I also saw Slim many times in Chicago (at B.L.U.E.S., blues etc., Buddy Guy´s Legends and Blue Chicago), the last concert was at Kingston Mines – its owner, Frank Pellegrino, made the best announcements for the Magic Man!
Magic Slim was a major part of the U.S. Blues culture, and therefore he is a national treasure. He created a band sound that was based on the 1930´s Mississippi Blues as modified by Muddy Waters and Howlin´Wolf to become electric Chicago Blues.
The first time I thought Slim would have serous heath problems was at a gig at B.L.U.E.S. He took a drink from a so-called fried, but the drink was poisoned! Two songs into the next set, Slim collapsed. I thought that he had a heart attack, and an ambulance took him into a hospital. But when I visited him the next day at his south side home, he was ok.
Slim visited Vienna for the last time in 2010, so in 2012. I wanted to see Slim again at a concert in Germany, but he couldn’t make it. It was an empty feeling, a concert hall full of people – but no Slim. Now we know that he will never play again.
Because I had made some great recordings at his last Vienna concerts, I asked Marty Salzman – Slim´s manager- if we could do another great CD by Magic Slim with his new Teardrops! So in November 2012 we signed a contract. It proves that Slim played his music for 53 years with the same energy and love! His Blues never became old!
Slim played the real, down home Blues – he was a great singer, guitar player, showman and always played with his own band – The Teardrops! He didn´t want to play with other musicians, so he got a sound nobody else could reach! His band members were also great musicians: His brother Nick was a great singer and bass player, Jr. Pettis played great rhythm guitar, but John Primer was one of the best – he & Nick gave Slim the back-up he wanted, which will always be blues history.
We will miss Slim and he will always be in our hearts – with his music and as a human being!
Magic Slim CD´s on Wolf Records:
W.C. Handy Awards winners:
CD 120.849 Magic Slim &The Teardrops
CD 120.856 Magic Slim & Nick Holt
CD 120.864 Magic Slim – Live “On The Road”
CD 120.301 120.305 Zoo Bar Collection Vol. 1 – Vol. 5
CD 120.809 Magic Slim – Tin Pan Alley
CD 120.820 Magic Slim & The Teardrops – Rough Dried Woman
CD 120.830 Magic Slim & The Teardrops – Pure Magic
CD 120.870 Magic Slim – Magic Blues
CD 120.882 Magic Slim – Alone & Unplugged
CD 120.895 Magic Slim & The Teardrops – 44 Blues