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Jimmy McCracklin

A full half-century from when he started out in the blues business, Jimmy McCracklin was still touring, recording, and acting like a much younger man. In fact, he vehemently disputed his commonly accepted birth date, but since he began recording back in 1945, it seemed reasonable. McCracklin grew up in Missouri, his main influence on piano being Walter Davis (little Jimmy's dad introduced him to the veteran pianist). McCracklin was also a promising pugilist, but the blues eventually emerged victorious. After a stint in the Navy during World War II, he bid St. Louis adieu and moved to the West Coast, making his recorded debut for the Globe logo with "Miss Mattie Left Me" in 1945. On that platter, J.D. Nicholson played piano; most of McCracklin's output found him handling his own 88s.

McCracklin recorded for a daunting array of tiny labels in Los Angeles and Oakland prior to touching down with Modern in 1949-1950, Swing Time the next year, and Peacock in 1952-1954. Early in his recording career, McCracklin had Robert Kelton on guitar, but by 1951, Lafayette "Thing" Thomas was installed as the searing guitarist with McCracklin's Blues Blasters and remained invaluable to the pianist into the early '60s.

By 1954, the pianist was back with the Bihari Brothers' Modern logo and really coming into his own with a sax-driven sound. "Couldn't Be a Dream" was hilariously surreal, McCracklin detailing his night out with a woman sent straight from hell, while a 1955 session found him doubling credibly on harp.

A series of sessions for Bay Area producer Bob Geddins' Irma label in 1956 (many of which later turned up on Imperial) preceded McCracklin's long-awaited first major hit. Seldom had he written a simpler song than "The Walk," a rudimentary dance number with a good groove that Checker Records put on the market in 1958. It went Top Ten on both the R&B and pop charts, and McCracklin was suddenly rubbing elbows with Dick Clark on network TV.

The nomadic pianist left Chess after a few more 45s, pausing at Mercury (where he cut a torrid "Georgia Slop" in 1959, later revived by Big Al Downing) before returning to the hit parade with the tough R&B workout "Just Got to Know" in 1961 for Art-Tone Records. A similar follow-up, "Shame, Shame, Shame," also did well for him the next year. Those sides eventually resurfaced on Imperial, where he hit twice in 1965 with "Every Night, Every Day" (later covered by Magic Sam) and the uncompromising "Think" and "My Answer" in 1966.

McCracklin's songwriting skills shouldn't be overlooked as an integral factor in his enduring success. He penned the funky "Tramp" for guitarist Lowell Fulson and watched his old pal take it to the rarefied end of the R&B lists in 1967, only to be eclipsed by a sassy duet cover by Stax stalwarts Otis Redding and Carla Thomas a scant few months later. McCracklin made a string of LPs for Imperial, even covering "These Boots Are Made for Walkin'" in 1966, and segued into the soul era totally painlessly. Latter-day discs for Bullseye Blues proved that McCracklin still packed a knockout punch from behind his piano, no matter what his birth certificate said. Jimmy McCracklin died in San Pablo, California on December 20, 2012 at the age of 91. ~ Bill Dahl
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: The Blues Effect: Jimmy McCracklin

1. Blues Blaster's Boogie

2. Come On

3. Country Baby

4. Everybody Rock

5. Get Tough

6. He Knows The Rules

7. I Know

8. I'm Through

9. I'm To Blame

10. Later On

11. Miss Minnie Lee Blues

12. She Felt Too Good

13. Take Care Of Yourself

14. The Walk

15. The Wobble

x

Track List: Blues Legend 1921-2012

Disc 1

1. You're The One

2. Give My Heart A Break

3. Reconsider Baby

4. Arkansas

5. I Got To Know

7. Make Love To Me

8. Copyright On Your Love

10. Cry On

11. Darlin' Share Your Love

12. Where I Got My Start

13. I Told Ya Mama

14. Just Couldn't Take My Rest

15. When You Was A Little Girl

16. Something About You

17. That Ain't Right

18. Gonna Tell Your Mother

19. Couldn't Be A Dream

20. Sue And Pat

21. Please Forgive Me, Baby

22. The Panic's On

23. Blues Blasters Boogie

24. You Look So Fine

25. Night And Day

26. Everytime

27. We Could Make A Go I Know

28. Hello Baby

29. Blues And Trouble

30. I Don't Want No Woman

31. Hear My Story

32. The End

33. Pleasin' Papa

34. Share And Share Alike

35. The Cheater

36. She Felt Too Good

37. House Rockin' Blues

38. She's Gone

39. My Days Are Limited

40. I Am Tired

41. Movin' On Down The Line

42. Blues For The People

43. That's Life

44. What's Your Phone Number

45. Rockin' Man

46. True Love Blues

Disc 2

1. I'm Gonna Have My Fun

2. You Don't Love Me

3. Looking For A Woman

4. Ragged As A Mop (Hamburger Joint)

5. Bad Health Blues

6. You Deceived Me

7. Gotta Cut Out

8. Rockin' All Day

9. Just Won't Let Her Go

10. Up And Down Blues

11. Beer Drinkin' Woman

12. Deceivin' Blues

13. I Think My Time Is Here

14. Gonna Find Another Woman

15. My Life Depends On You

16. Your Heart Ain't Right

17. Love When It Rains

18. I'll Get A Break Someday

19. Railroad Blues

20. Josephine (Just Won't Let Her Go)

21. I Can't Understand Love

22. Bad Condition Blues

23. Listen Woman

24. Rock And Rye, Pt. 1

25. Rock And Rye, Pt. 2

26. South Side Mood

27. When I'm Gone

28. She's My Baby

29. Low Down Mood

30. Blues Blasters Shuffle

31. Jimmy's Blues

32. Big Foot Mama

33. Playin' On Me

34. Miss Minnie Lee Blues

35. Rock And Rye

36. Special For You

37. You Had Your Chance

38. She's A Wino

39. Bad Luck And Trouble

40. Ola May

41. Street Loafin' Woman

42. Achin' Heart

43. Baby, Don't You Want To Go

44. Mean Mistreated Lover

45. Highway 101

46. Miss Mattie Left Me

x

Track List: Blues Blasters Boogie 1945-1955

Disc 1

1. Miss Mattie Left Me

2. Mean Mistreated Woman

3. Highway 101

4. Baby, Don't You Want Me To Go

5. Achin' Heart

6. Street Loafin' Woman

7. You Deceived Me

8. Ola May

9. She's A Wino

10. Rock And Rye (Pt. 1)

11. Rock And Rye (Pt. 2)

12. You Had Your Chance

13. Special For You

14. Rock And Rye

15. Miss Minnie Lee Blues

16. Playin' On Me

17. Big Foot Mama

18. Bad Luck And Trouble

19. Railroad Blues

20. Jimmy's Blues

21. Bad Condition Blues

22. Blues Blaster's Shuffle

23. Low Down Mood

24. She's My Baby

25. When I'm Gone

26. South Side Mood

Disc 2

1. Listen Woman

2. I Can't Understand Love

3. Josephine (Just Won't Let Her Go)

4. I'll Get A Break Someday

5. Love When It Rains

6. Your Heart Ain't Right

7. My Life Depends On You

8. Gonna Find Another Woman

9. I Think My Time Is Here

10. Deceivin' Blues

11. Beer Drinkin' Woman

12. Up And Down Blues

13. Just Won't Let Her Go

14. Rockin' All Day

15. Gotta Cut Out

16. You Decieved Me

17. Bad Health Blues

18. Ragged As A Mop (Hamburger Joint)

23. Looking For A Woman

24. You Don't Love Me

25. I'm Gonna Have My Fun

Disc 3

1. True Love Blues

2. Rockin' Man

3. What's Your Phone Number

4. That's Life

5. Blues For The People

6. House Rockin' Blues

7. Movin' On Down The Line

8. I Am Tired

9. My Days Are Limited

10. She's Gone

11. She Felt Too Good

12. Share And Share Alike

13. The Cheater

14. Pleasin' Papa

15. The End

16. Hear My Story

17. I Don't Want No Woman

18. Blues And Trouble

19. Hello Baby

20. We Could Make A Go I Know

21. Everytime

22. Night And Day

25. Blues Blaster's Boogie

Disc 4

1. The Panic's On

2. Darlin' Share Your Love

3. Give My Heart A Break

4. Please Forgive Me Baby

5. Couldn't Be A Dream

6. Gonna Tell Your Mother

7. That Ain't Right

10. Something About You

11. When You Was A Little Girl

12. Just Couldn't Take My Rest

13. I Told Ya Mama

14. Where I Got My Start

15. Cry On

16. Copyright On Your Love

17. Make Love To Me

18. Sue And Pat

19. Reconsider Baby

20. I Got To Know

21. Arkansas

22. You're The One

x

Track List: Blues Legend

1. The Walk

2. She's My Baby

3. Listen Woman

4. Blues Blasters Boogie

5. Savoy's Jump

6. Bad Luck And Trouble

7. You're The One

8. Railroad Blues

9. Take A Chance

10. Big Foot Mama

11. My Love For You

12. South Side Mood

13. Miss Minnie Lee Blues

14. Gonna Tell Your Mother

15. When I'm Gone

16. Jimmy's Blues

17. I Can't Understand Love

18. Fare-Well

19. I'm The One

20. Low Down Mood

21. Rock And Rye

22. Beer Tavern Girl

23. Playin' On Me

24. I Wanna Make Love To You

x

Track List: A Taste Of The Blues: West Coast Blues Summit With Lowell Fulson, Johnny Otis, Barbara Lynn, Larry Davis & Others

1. Boogie On Down

2. Lie To Me

3. How Do You Like Your New Love

4. My Answer

5. Help The Bear

6. Yesterday Is Gone

7. I Got Juiced

8. Put Up Or Shut Up

9. Not The Right Thing

10. Outside Help

11. Taste Of The Blues

x

Track List: My Story

1. Tomorrow

2. Real Love

3. Arkansas

4. Keep It Like This

5. It's Got To Be Love

6. In The Ally

7. After Hours

8. Stuck With Loneliness

9. Mama And Papa

10. Join The Club

11. My Story

12. Just A Matter Of Time

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