(Baton Rouge, LA) – Slim Harpo finally gets a full biography thanks to a new release by music journalist Martin Hawkins. Slim Harpo: Blues King Bee of Baton Rouge, from LSU Press, delves into the history of this Baton Rouge performer whose work formed the foundation for the city’s blues scene and was later covered by the Stones, Muddy Waters, Pink Floyd, the Kinks, Van Morrison and dozens more.
As Louis Armstrong forever tethered jazz to New Orleans and Clifton Chenier fixed Lafayette as home to zydeco, Slim Harpo established Baton Rouge as a base for the blues. In the only complete biography of this internationally renowned blues singer and musician, Hawkins traces Harpo’s rural upbringing near Louisiana’s capital, his professional development fostered by the local music scene, and his national success with R&B hits like “Rainin’ in My Heart,” “Baby Scratch My Back, and “I’m A King Bee,” among others. Hawkins follows Harpo’s global musical impact from the early 1960s to today and offers a detailed look at the nature of the independent recording business that enabled his remarkable legacy.
With new research and interviews, Hawkins fills in previous biographical gaps and redresses misinformation about Harpo’s life. In addition to weaving the musician’s career into the lives of other Louisiana blues players—including Lightnin’ Slim, Lazy Lester, and Silas Hogan—the author discusses the pioneering role of Crowley, Louisiana, record producer J. D. Miller and illustrates how Excello Records in Nashville brought national attention to Harpo’s music recorded in Louisiana.
This engaging narrative examines Harpo’s various recording sessions and provides a detailed discography, as well as a list of blues-related records by fellow Baton Rouge artists. Slim Harpo: Blues King Bee of Baton Rouge will stand as the ultimate resource on the musician’s life and the rich history of Baton Rouge’s blues heritage.
Hawkins previous work includes histories of Sun Records and Nashville’s music scene. Slim Harpo: Blues King Bee of Baton Rouge is out now from the LSU Press and available at various places from Amazon to Barnes & Noble to Walmart even!