Episode 7: The Story of Guitar Slim (Lawrence Cotton p1)

On this edition of Trick Bag, we’ll hear the story of one of the most colorful, dynamic and intriguing characters in New Orleans music history — Guitar Slim — as told by his piano player, Lawrence Cotton. 

Guitar Slim hit it big in 1954 with “The Things That I Used to Do.” Complete with Slim’s stunning guitar work and a masterful arrangement by Ray Charles, the song stayed at the #1 position on the R&B chart for 14 weeks and was one of the top-selling R&B singles of 1954. Slim’s piercing and innovative guitar style combined with his captivating onstage persona, which included coloring his hair to match his brightly colored suits and making use of his custom 100-foot-long guitar cord to play his instrument while he rode atop the shoulders of a burly member of his entourage, made him the ultimate showman. His self-destructive alcohol habits were no secret and his untimely death on February 7th, 1959 at age 32 only added to the mystique that already surrounded him. 

Lawrence Cotton played piano with Slim, in concert and on recordings, from 1954 to late 1958. I had the chance to do an in-depth interview with Lawrence on December 1st, 2015 for my radio program on WWOZ in New Orleans. Lawrence was 88 at the time of the interview and is one of the most engaging and interesting people I’ve ever had the pleasure of interviewing. I’m happy to say that Lawrence, now 94, is just as sharp and lively as ever. 

In this episode, Lawrence will take us on an aural journey of Guitar Slim’s career as only he can!

Songs Featured in this Episode:

  • Guitar Slim – Stand By Me
  • Guitar Slim – I Want to Love-A You (take 1)
  • Guitar Slim – Sufferin’ Mind (take 1)
  • Lloyd Lambert & his Band – King Cotton (feat. the piano of Lawrence Cotton)
  • Lloyd Lambert & his Band – Heavy Sugar
  • Guitar Slim – Guitar Slim
  • Guitar Slim – I Got Sumpin’ for You
  • Guitar Slim – Quicksand


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