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The Amazing Jimmi Mayes – Sideman To The Stars | Book Review

The Amazing Jimmi Mayes – Sideman to the Stars
by Jimmi Mayes with V.C. Speek
175 pages

by MARK THOMPSON. It is rare to find someone who actually played and toured with blues legends like Little Walter, Jimmy Reed, Pinetop Perkins, Willie “Big Eyes” Smith, Robert Junior Lockwood, and Earl Hooker. Over the course of his career, drummer Jimmi Mayes played with all of them and many more. His autobiography stretches from his birth in Jackson, Mississippi to modern day Chicago with whirlwind of a story filled with legendary singers & musicians, women, drugs, alcohol, and gangsters coupled with a never-give-up attitude that allowed Mayes to persevere during the dark times. Like many musicians of his generation, Mayes learned to play drums and read music in high school. The latter skill served him well, allowing him to get session work throughout his career. Once he finished high school, Mayes headed for Chicago where he worked at a publishing house by day, then playing the blues clubs at night. One of his mentors was Sam Lay, who was getting ready to switch over to working with Howlin’ Wolf.  Lay asked Mayes to fill his spot in Little Walter’s band. After a brief audition, the teenage drummer was backing the giant of blues harmonica in a band that often included Lockwood and Hooker on guitar plus Perkins on piano. Through Walter, Mayes met more members of the blues royalty like Fred Below, Junior Wells, and Muddy Waters. READ MORE