Cover

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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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Contents

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Foreword

Kim Wilson

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pp. ix-xii

Jimmy Rogers—oh, man. It’s so hard to tell you what he meant to me. Was he my father? My uncle? Big brother? I don’t know. Maybe he was all of them. One thing’s for sure, though—he was definitely my hero. When you were around him, everything seemed to flow in an effortless, natural kind of way. And his music...

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xiii-xvi

Thanks to the Rogers family for allowing me to tell their story: Angela Lane, Cordero Lane, Deborah Lane, Jackie Lane, James D. Mosely, Jimmy D. Lane, and Willie Miller. Extra special thanks to Cordero, who introduced me to all of these family members, who each contributed in their own special way.
I am grateful to all the contributors who gave me materials for the development...

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Introduction

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pp. 1-6

The blues wasn’t born in Chicago, but it sure was raised there—just like me. For all of my life, I’ve had a direct and powerful connection to the blues. My father, William Earl Goins, knew and hung out with Little Walter (they were drinking buddies) and could mimic his harp style with ease. When he was in a...

Part I. From Minter City to Madison Street (1924–1960)

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1. Money, Marbles, and Chalk

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pp. 9-26

Jimmy Rogers was born James A. Lane on June 3, 1924, in Ruleville, Mississippi, to Grossie Jackson and Walter “Roscoe” Lane. Roscoe was from an area near Atlanta, Georgia (little is known about what brought him to the South). While there is almost no information about his father’s background, much more is...

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2. Chicago Bound

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pp. 27-52

The impact that Jimmy Rogers, Muddy Waters, and Little Walter had on the history of Chicago blues was so huge that many people actually believe there wasn’t much of a blues scene happening before their arrival in the mid-1940s. Nothing could be further from the truth. There was so much happening then...

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3. Chess Moves

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pp. 53-75

The blues carnival atmosphere on Maxwell Street really appealed to Little Walter, so much so that he became a regular fixture there on weekends, even after he became part of an official, unionized band. Although the money-making opportunities there were well received by musicians, being part of that scene was...

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4. Headhunters and Wolfmen

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pp. 76-97

Jimmy Rogers participated in a marathon recording session that took place at Parkway Records in January and February 1950. The session was organized much like the one held in December 1948 at Tempo-Tone Records for Irving Taman under Sunnyland Slim’s direction. At the Parkway session, Little Walter, Baby...

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5. The World’s in a Tangle

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pp. 98-117

In 1952 the Muddy Waters band was the hottest thing on the Chess record label, and the group went out to promote the singles that Muddy had on the charts. On this particular tour, they went outside of their customary gig itinerary and traveled to the Deep South, into the Mississippi Delta region, covering juke...

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6. Blues Leave Me Alone

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pp. 118-138

What led to Jimmy’s distancing himself from Leonard Chess? Maybe it was his mounting frustration with the pressure from the label to follow the beat of acts who were brought in to lead the way toward the emergence of the new rock ’n’ roll groove. Maybe it was the ever expanding gulf that lay between himself and...

Part II. Rising from the Ashes (1970–1989)

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7. Walkin’ by Myself

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pp. 139-156

When asked whether there were any extenuating circumstances beyond money that drove Jimmy Rogers away from the music business, he replied, “No, the financial reasons, that’s all. It wasn’t enough in it for me with the family I had. So I had to do something to make some heavy money, that’s what I’d need. With...

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8. Shelter from the Storm

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pp. 157-180

When word hit the streets that Jimmy was back on the scene and ready to hit the road, musicians and promoters rallied around him, offering him work from all directions. They’d missed him, and not just his playing. Jimmy had always maintained good relations with his comrades and was widely regarded as a man...

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9. Gold Tailed Bird

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pp. 181-207

Jimmy’s simple tastes were reflected in how he lived and how he played. While the latest rage of the 1970s seemed to involve cranking the amps up and blasting away at the guitar while “squeezing the strings,” Jimmy stuck to the basic approach he had consistently maintained throughout his performing career: his...

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10. Feelin’ Good

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pp. 208-236

In Chicago, Jimmy Rogers held court in local clubs with his usual lineup of musicians, which included Joe Berson on harp, Big Moose Walker on piano, Left Hand Frank Craig on guitar, Right Hand Frank Bandy on bass, and S. P. Leary on drums. The band took a few short tours throughout the Midwest during the...

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11. Out on the Road

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pp. 237-260

Back in Boston, Jimmy was still rolling with his East Coast crew, gathering momentum up and down the coast. Local bassist Mudcat Ward was a permanent fixture among Boston’s elite bluesmen. “With Jimmy, we played weddings and private parties—this is all during the middle ’80s—they were good-paying gigs...

Part III. Fathers and Sons (1989–1997)

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12. Changing Lanes

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pp. 263-290

In November 1989 Chicago Tribune newspaper reporter Dan Kening mentioned that a new Jimmy Rogers LP would be forthcoming.1 Indeed, Clifford Antone had decided to make his club the centerpiece for Jimmy’s next album project. He put Kim Wilson in charge of producing the record. Clifford clearly thought Wilson...

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13. That’s All Right

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pp. 291-309

The year 1996 turned out to be another exciting one for Jimmy. He was seventy-two years old and still going strong. In early February he and his band had a gig in St. Louis. John May, a prominent local club owner, was instrumental in serving as liaison between local musicians and blues acts that came through the city of...

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14. Long Gone

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pp. 310-316

Jimmy D. Lane’s album Legacy was released in 1998, just months after Jimmy’s passing. The lengthy liner notes accompanying the CD read like an autobiography. The homage to his beloved father was bittersweet, with Jimmy D. reminiscing about growing up in a household where blues legends routinely dropped...

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Coda. The Last Time

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pp. 317-318

The words above were delivered by Alex Thomas at the dedication of a Mississippi Blues Trail marker on behalf of Jimmy Rogers in Ruleville on Friday, November 4, 2011. In a fitting gesture, the Film and Tourism Development Bureau of the Mississippi Development Authority placed the 144th marker on the...

Notes

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pp. 319-350

A Selected Jimmy Rogers Discography

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pp. 351-364

Bibliography

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pp. 365-374

Index

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pp. 375-387