Jimmy Peterson


Jimmy Peterson | Garage Hangover | tc397

We are not aware of biographical details or current whereabouts for Jimmy Peterson, who was a record producer, song writer, singer and a member of vocal group The Chicagoans. Mainly active in the 1950s and 1960s, he also recorded and wrote songs under the names Jim Peterson, James B Peterson, James Butler and James Dawg.

Little Miss Cornshucks


Little Miss Cornshucks | Planet Barberella | tc404

Mildred Cummings Jordan (Little Miss Cornshucks) was born on 26 May 1923 and died on 11 November 1999. A night club singer of many years standing, she had a long season in Chicago night clubs. She was very influential, with Aretha Franklin among those naming her as an influence; and was responsible for Atlantic Records’ Ahmet Ertegun becoming interested in recording music. “Little Miss Cornshucks” was a character of “a country girl lost in a big city” which was designed to appeal to the many men who had migrated to Chicago from the Southern States. \After recording over a number of years for many labels she recorded an LP for Chess in 1960, from which a single was taken, but her act suddenly became old fashioned and she ended her live appearances in 1961.

Washboard Sam


Washboard Sam | Keeping the Blues Alive | tc366

Robert Brown (Washboard Sam), pictured, was born on July 15, 1910 and died on November 6, 1966 of heart disease. He is reputed to be related to Big Bill Broonzy. He recorded widely from the 1930s. When his career hit a lull in the late 1940s he became a Police Officer. Until a successful appeal in 2009, his grave had been unmarked.

Herb Walker remembers his days at Chess

The Sun Times have been talking to Herb Walker, pictured, foreground, a long time Chicago musician who worked with Tyrone Davis and many other recording artistes.

“I was working at Johnson Products on 83rd Street,” Walker said before a “Golden Soul” dress rehearsal. “I packed and moved 42,000 jars of Afro Sheen in one day and got a pat on the back. They said they had never run that fast before. That was my last day. All I ever wanted to do was play music.”

Family Soul merged with Thunder to create a large sound that fueled Davis’ biggest hits. Walker said, “We augmented his band, me and his guitarist L.V. Johnson [the late nephew of Elmore James]. I produced two of L.V.’s albums. We went up to a 12-piece band with a six-piece horn section. It was really powerful.”

How does Walker describe Chicago soul to a new generation?

“The younger cast members were not aware of these artists,” said Walker, 62. “Chicago soul has earthiness. And if they didn’t use horns, they put the strings out in front and they were thick. They had a purpose. … You never realize how many people came to Chicago to record here because of Curtis and Chess Records. When I was 19, I was an intern at Chess and I worked there five days a week. I could sit in on any recording session. That’s how I got close with Phil Upchurch. I’d see Ramsey Lewis, Maurice White, … Minnie Riperton.”

In 1980, Walker moved on to work at the late Carl Davis’ Chi-Sound Records, where he played with Walter Jackson, the Chi-Lites and Major Lance.

Floyd Jones


Floyd Jones | Jim O’Neal | tc372

Blues singer, musician and songwriter Floyd Jones was born on July 21, 1917 and died on December 19, 1989. His best known song, “On the road again”, also became a hit for 1960’s group Canned Heat. Several of his songs have economic or social themes. He was given his first guitar by Howlin’ Wolf. He began recording in 1949 and was with Chess by 1951. In later years he switched to an electric bass guitar. He continued to perform until he died.

Eddie South


Eddie South | Gems of Jazz | tc334

Jazz violinist Eddie South was born on November 27, 1904 and died on April 25, 1962. He graduated from the Chicago Music College. In the 1920s South learned to play jazz, working with Jimmy Wade’s Syncopators, Charles Elgar, and Erskine Tate. In 1928 he studied at the Paris Conservatoire and toured Europe, including Budapest where he developed an affinity for gypsy melodies which he used as a basis for improvising. He then moved frequently between Chicago and Paris, playing with Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli. South never had a major success and spent most of his life in obscurity, recording for Chess and Mercury. (Eddie’s name was spelled as Eddy on Chess labels.)

Holly Maxwell


Holle Maxwell | Copyright control | tc307

The versatile singer Holle Thee Maxwell was born on October 17, 1945 and is still living and active in music. In a wide ranging career, in which she has mastered many styles of music, she has been associated with Ike Turner, Jimmy Smith, The Temptations, The Impressions, Johnny Taylor, The Spinners, The Dells and many other artistes. On her earlier recordings her name was spelled Holly.