John Brim has consistently shown through his music
that he is truly a BLUES LEGEND !

John Brim was a fixture in the Chicago blues scene of the 50's. Although his musical career began long before and has continued for 5 decades, 1950 through 1956 saw Brim involved with the cream of Chicago's working and recording musicians. In no less than 35 recordings for a half dozen labels, John Brim solidified his place in blues history with classics such as Ice Cream Man, Rattlesnake and Tough Times.

John Brim was born April 10th, 1922 near Hopkinsville, Kentucky. His interest in the blues started soon thereafter. Influenced by the records of Tampa Red, Peetie Wheatstraw, and Big Bill Broonzy, Brim started to teach himself harmonica.

Playing on the streets of nearby Crofton and Elkton, John soon met and teamed up with guitarist Homer Wilson.In 1941, at age 19, John and Homer left Kentucky for Indianapolis to look for work. After going their separate ways, John decided to learn to play the guitar. One of his early mentors was Harmon Ray, a.k.a. Peetie Wheatstraw's Buddy. Another early teacher was Pete Franklin, who introduced Brim to Scrapper Blackwell. Brim also spent a lot of time watching Champion Jack Dupree's guitarist, Jessie Eldridge. He also met Dr. Clayton, whom he would work with later in Chicago.

By late 1945, Brim decided to take his voice and guitar to Chicago. Almost immediately he met and began working with John Lee Sonny Boy Williamson and Dr. Clayton. Brim also reunited with Homer Wilson. During the next 5 years, Brim met and worked with the founding members of the Chicago blues scene, as well as the "old guard" that was still influencing the younger artists. Muddy Waters, Little Walter, Willie Mabon, Memphis Minnie, Big Bill Broonzy, Tampa Red, Earl Hooker, and Big Maceo all crossed paths with Brim during this time.

In 1947 John married Grace, after meeting her one-year earlier in Chicago. Grace sang, blew harp, and at John's urging, played the drums. With the help of weekly lessons from Odie Payne, Grace soon became an accomplished drummer and co-performer with her husband. The two played the club circuit in Chicago and Gary with a variety of musicians. The Brims are also credited with giving Jimmy Reed one of his first gigs when another player failed to show.

In 1950, Big Maceo invited the Brims to record with him in Detroit for Fortune records. This was the first recording session for the pair, and they released Strange Man/Mean Man Blues (Fortune 801).The next two years saw John and Grace involved in another dozen recordings with J.O.B. With a succession of piano players including Big Maceo Merriweather, Sunnyland Slim, and Roosevelt Sykes, the Brims created a formidable writing/performing team.

By the time 1953 rolled around Brim was recording for the Chess, Checker, and Parrot labels, working in the studio with Little Walter, Louis and Dave Myers, Jimmy Reed, Fred Below, Eddie Taylor, and the Dalton brothers (W.C. and James). He even played guitar on Albert King's first release. During the sessions at Chess, Brim recorded Rattlesnake, It Was A Dream, Lifetime Baby, and Ice Cream Man.

Near the end of that year, Brim, his wife Grace on drums, Jimmy Reed on harp and Eddie Taylor on guitar, had a big hit with Tough Times/Gary Stomp on the Parrot label. As a result of the success of Tough Times and at the insistence of Little Walter Jacobs, Chess invited Brim back in the studio in late '55 and early '56. These sessions produced two more classics, I Would Hate To See You Go (Be Careful) and (You Got Me) Where You Want Me.

Unfortunately, a disagreement with the powerful Chess label led to many of these classic recordings being shelved for over 15 years, dramatically slowing Brim's recording and performing career. Listening to his last sessions for Chess with Little Walter on harp, Willie Dixon, Fred Below, and Robert JR Lockwood one can only wonder how far Brim would have gone had they been released and promoted at the time. When most of these songs were eventually released, their status as classics was recognized immediately.

Throughout the '60's and '70's Brim continued to perform in and around the Midwest, appearing in local clubs and blues festivals.

After a 15-year break, Brim ventured back into the recording business briefly in 1971 with his wife Grace and son John Jr. Together they wrote and recorded You Put The Hurt On Me/Movin' Out on their own label.

Another 18 years would pass before Brim entered the studio again. This time teaming with old friend Pinetop Perkins, as well as Willie Kent, Billy Branch and John Primer, Brim recorded four songs for the Wolf label. Also included on the '89 release were the two songs Brim recorded in '71 with his wife and son.

In 1994, Brim joined with Muddy Waters alumni guitarist Bob Margolin and harpist Jerry Portnoy, and a number of other musicians to record his first solo CD, Ice Cream Man (Tone Cool 1150). W.C. Handy nominated for best Traditional Blues Album of the Year, the session included 7 new Brim compositions.

Sadly, in June of 1999, Grace Brim passed away.

In 2000, 50 years after his first recordings, John Brim stepped into the studio once more. With guitar played by Billy Flynn, and the backing of his road band, "The Tough Time Boys", Brim delivers eight new songs on Jake's Blues (Anna Bea CD 499). Also released by Anna Bea Records is Authorized Blues (ABCD 451), a remastering of 13 past Brim recordings, mostly from 1951 and 1952.

As a charter member of the Chicago blues scene, John Brim has consistently shown through his music that he is truly a BLUES LEGEND !

Jan Arenas, The Tough Time Boys

His New CD from Anna Bea Records (2000)

John Brim with Tough Time Boys
Jake's Blues
(Anna Bea Records ABCD 499)

  1. Tougher Times
  2. Walkin' With Grace
  3. What May Be Your Name
  4. You Put The Hurt On Me
  5. I Just Got To Know
  6. Dedicated To Grace (Part 1)
  7. Boogie Home
  8. No Place I Go
  9. Hey Baby
  10. Movin' Out Too
  11. Dedicated To Grace (Part 2)
  12. Oooowee
  13. (Grace Brim singing)

Vocal and Guitar,

John Brim


Billy Flynn


Jan Arenas


Rick Gerek


P.T. Pedersen


Matt Liban

Get the CD from Anna Bea Records

His Random, J.O.B. and BB Recordings

John Brim
Authorized Blues (his Random and JOB Recordings)
(Anna Bea Records ABCD 451)

  1. Dark Colouds
  2. Lonesome Man Blues
  3. Going Down The Line
  4. Young And Wild
  5. Love My Baby
  6. Trouble In The Morning
  7. Humming Blues
  8. Hard Pill To Swallow
  9. Drinking Woman
  10. Don't Leave Me
  11. Moonlight Blues
  12. Moving Out
  13. You Put The Hurt On Me

(1) Dark Clouds-1 Random 201
(2) Lonesome Man Blues-1 Random 201
(3) Going Down The Line-2 Random 202
V-1/g with Gracie Brim, v-2; Roosevelt Sykes, p Chicago, 1951

(4) Young And Wild
(5) I Love My Baby
(6) Trouble In The Morning JOB 110
(7) Humming Blues-1 JOB 110
V/g with Sunnyland Slim, humming-1/p; Moody Jones, b. Chicago, 27, Sep 1951

(8) Hard Pill To Swallow-1,4
(9) Drinking Woman-1 JOB 1011
V-1/g with Grace Brim, v-2/hca-3/d; Sunnyland Slim, p; Prob Eddie Taylor, g-4; unk b. Chicago, 22 Aug 1952

(10) Don't leave Me
(11) Moonlight Blues
V/g with Ernest Cotton, ts; Sunnyland Slim, p; Pete Franklin, g; Big Crawford, b; Alfred Wallace, d. Chicago, late 1952

(12) Moving Out
(13) You Put The Hurt On Me
V/g with John Brim Jr., g/b; Grace Brim, d. 1971

Get the CD from Anna Bea Records

John Brim Official Web Site



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