This week on From the Vault we are happy to present a live performance by Blues piano legend Memphis Slim. Recorded at New York City's Village Gate while broadcast live on Pacifica station WBAI the night of Wednesday, August 10th, 1977, Slim was accompanied by his longtime friend, French drummer Michel Denis.
Memphis Slim, born John Len Chapman in Memphis, Tennessee on September 3, 1915, was pounding the keys in honkytonks and gambling joints throughout the southeast by the 1930's. He began recording in the early 1940's, and by the early 1950's Memphis Slim amassed a body of work that would be covered by the likes of BB King, Sarah Vaughn, T-Bone Walker, Ray Charles, Ella Fitzgerald, Mahalia Jackson, Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, Carlos Santana, John Mayer, and many others.
We'll also hear Village Gate founder Art D'lugoff discussing WBAI's partnership with the nightclub, from a 2009 interview.
From the Vault is presented as part of the Pacifica Radio Archives Preservation and Access Project, funded in part by an award from the GRAMMY Foundation and the National Historical Publications and Records Commission at the National Archives and Records Administration, and past grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Ford Foundation, and the American Archive funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, along with the generous support of Pacifica Radio Listeners. We also thank our partners and collaborators at the Pop-Up Archive, Amara, Other Minds Archives, George Blood Audio, and the California Audio Visual Preservation Project.