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Bumble Bee Slim

Amos Easton, b. May 7, 1905 in Brunswick, GA, d. 1968 in Los Angeles, CA. Bumble Bee Slim was a blues guitarist, although he seldom played on record; it was as a singer that he recorded prolifically from 1931-37. Leaving home around 1920, he led a itinerant life for eight years before settling in Indianapolis, and later Chicago. As a singer, he was influenced by Naptown’s Leroy Carr, and his songs convey a modified version of Carr’s bittersweet aesthetic. Easton appears friendly, confiding and philosophical, sometimes bruised by life’s adversities, but never crushed by its tragedies. In part, no doubt, this is a reflection of his own personality, but it also typifies the switch from personal expression to performance art of recorded blues in the 30s. His records were very popular; songs such as ‘B&O Blues’ and ‘Sail On, Little Girl, Sail On’ fed back into folk tradition, and several were big enough hits to be remade with fresh lyrics, and have ‘New’ prefixed to their titles. Slim’s pleasant personality, the distinguished calibre of many of his accompanists, and the way his blues mirrored black life in the 30s all contributed to his star status. Nevertheless, lack of reward seems to have prompted him temporarily to stop recording in 1937, and to move to Los Angeles, where he had three records issued for black consumption, and released an unsuccessful album aimed at the new white audience, accompanied by cool jazz musicians.