Lynwood Slim felt there were only two things he could do to make a living: shoot pool or play harmonica. Thank goodness he chose to be a musician! As a child he played trumpet, but later switched to harmonica at the age of fifteen. Initially drawn to listening to Chicago blues greats Jimmy Reed and Little Walter, he made his career choice after watching Brooklyn Slim, a/k/a Paul Oscher. Early memorable gigs include sitting in with Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson among other blues legends. When the Southern California scene dried up in the mid-'70s, Slim packed up and headed east to Minneapolis.
Less than a week after arriving in town, Slim was recruited into the popular local blues band, Aces, Straights and Shuffles. They had just lost their harp player, Kim Wilson, who left for Austin to form the Fabulous Thunderbirds with guitarist Jimmie Vaughan. Eventually, he formed the Lynwood Slim Band, working often with veteran bluesmen Leonard "Baby Doo" Caston, Jimi “Prime Time” Smith and Big Walter Horton. Slim’s style of swinging blues won him numerous awards bestowed by the Minnesota Music Academy, and he documented his musical triumphs with his recordings, “Lost in America,” in 1990 and “Soul Feet,” in 1991. After a brief return to Los Angeles, Slim then moved on to Chicago where he joined guitarist Dave Specter in 1995.
Several years later, family circumstances and a revived local music scene in Southern California drew Slim back home. Besides being an active performer on the Los Angeles scene, Slim and producer Jerry Hall produced numerous European and American artists over the years. In 1998, they set up their own record label, Pacific Blues Recording Company, and Slim’s fourth solo album, “World Wide Wood,” followed in 2000.
In 2006, Slim signed on to the fledgling Delta Groove label and released, “Last Call.” This recording found Slim exploring the jazzier side of the blues idiom together with some of his long-time friends and cohorts on the West Coast scene, including guitarists Kid Ramos and Kirk Fletcher, transplanted boogie-woogie piano-master Carl Sonny Leyland, mandolin master Rich Del Grosso, and many others.
“Brazilian Kicks” followed in 2010, which expanded on his previous effort by continuing to blur the lines between jazz and blues. Slim enlisted the help of left-handed guitarist, Igor Prado, along with his premier jump blues outfit from São Paulo, Brazil, the Igor Prado Band, to surprising effect. Slim recounts his first experience working in the studio with Igor; “When I stepped aside to watch him play I realized his technique was unorthodox; meaning he played a left-handed guitar, left-handed, upside-down! I realized what a rare talent I had before me! His chord knowledge blew me away and he played a mix of almost everyone I have ever heard. From the first count to the last note, I was truly amazed and realized that these guys were much more than I had expected.”
Slim's health declined from early 2011. Initially he was diagnosed with hepatitis C, which he overcame, but the damage to his liver caused cirrhosis. In late 2011, Slim was given news that without a liver transplant he would only survive for two years. In July 2014, Lynwood Slim suffered a severe stroke and died from mounting health challenges on August 4, 2014 at the age of 60.