By 1922, John teaches himself to play the piano.
While still at school he forms his first band, with which he plays bass. He begins performing in Memphis clubs in 1931.
After having met his hero Roosevelt Sykes in Memphis in 1932, he decides to tour the southern states. He earns himself a reputation as an excellent barrelhouse pianist.
He settles in Chicago in 1937 and changes his name to Memphis Slim. He makes a living by converting hia apartment into a rehearsal studio and renting it out.
He records 'Beer Drinkin' Woman' and 'Grinder Man' in 1940, both a successes. He also plays with the renown blues guitarist Big Bill Broonzy.
Slim gathers some useful backing musiciansaround him and consolidates his growing reputation with a series of concerts, billed as Memphis Slim and his Solid Band.
With his band having changed their name to the House Rockers in 1947, Slim makes recordings such as 'Every Day I Have the Blues' and 'Wish Me Well'.
In 1950, Slim records what will become the most popular song of his Stateside career 'Mother Earth'.
After a three year break from the recording studio, Slim records some traditional southern songs in 1958 and he appears at Carnegie Hall, New York, and at the Newport Folk Festival the following year.
He tours Europe with Willie Dixon in 1960, and records in London with Alexis Korner.
Slim tours Europe again in 1962, this time as part of the first American Folk Blue Festival. He decides to settle in Paris.
He takes up a residency at the Parisian club Les Trios Maillets and tours Poland with Sonny Boy Williamson II in 1963.
In 1965 he performs a series of concerts at the Village Vanguard in New York.
Slim makes an appearance in the film L'Aventure du Jazz in 1972.
His collaboration with the American blues band Canned Heat is released in 1974, as the album Memphis Heat.Memphis Slim dies in Paris on 24 February 1988.
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