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Popular and prolific, Bumble Bee Slim parlayed a familiar but rudimentary style into one of the earliest flowerings of the Chicago style. Much of what he performed he adapted from the groundbreaking duo Leroy Carr and Scrapper Blackwell — Slim built on Carr's laconic, relaxed vocal style and Blackwell's guitar technique. During the mid-'30s, Bumble Bee Slim recorded a number of sides for a variety of labels, including Bluebird, Vocalion, and Decca, becoming one of the most-recorded bluesmen of the decade.
Born in Georgia, Bumble Bee Slim left his home when he was a teenager. He joined a circus and travelled thorughout the south and the Midwest for much of his adolescence and early adulthood. Eventually, he made a home in Indianapolis, where he played local parties and dance halls.
Bumble Bee Slim moved to Chicago in the early '30s. After a few years in the city, he began a recording career; his first singles appeared on Bluebird. Slim wrote and recorded frequently during the mid-'30s, selling more records than most of his contemporaries. In addition to cutting his own sides, he played on records by Big Bill Broonzy and Cripple Clarence Lofton, among others.
Bumble Bee Slim moved back to Georgia in the late '30s. After a few years, he left the state once again, relocating to Los Angeles in the early '40s. During the '50s, Slim cut some West Coast blues for Specialty and Pacific Jazz, which failed to gain much interest. For the rest of his career, he kept a low profile, playing various Californian clubs. Bumble Bee Slim died in 1968.