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It's More Than One Of His Album's, For John Primer, 'The Real Deal' Is A Name That Fits

Marilyn Stringer
courtesy of the artist

John Primer is another of a long list of Mississippi Blues players who made it in Chicago -- and in the bargain helped solidify the Chicago style of Blues. His tight guitar riffs and solos mix with vocals that are gruff and straight forward expressions of strong emotion.

Born in 1945, Primer borrowed a guitar when he was 8 and learned to play from listening to his grandmother's radio blast people like Muddy Waters, Albert King and Little Milton. He found work in his hometown of Camden, Mississippi, doing fish fry's, house parties and church gigs.

In 1963, at age 18, he followed the standard path for Delta musicians of the time and moved to Chicago. He was in demand right away, as the club scenes on both the South Side and the West Side were growing fast. John Primer played with two different bands before joining the house band at the legendary Theresa's Lounge on the South Side in 1974, staying several years.

Stints in the Bands of Muddy Waters and Willie Dixon solidified Primer's place in the Chicago guitar pantheon and led to his 1983 release of his solo album Stuff You Got to Watch. More albums have followed and Primer has spent time with Magic Slim and the Teardrops. He still some times works with the Teardrops, who are now led by Magic Slim's son Shawn Holt.


Given his primacy in the rough edged Chicago sound and tireless devotion to that style it is only right that John Primer has received many awards and accolades and has twice been nominated for Blues Music Award in the Traditional Blues category. It is fortunate for us that we can hear him at festivals or go to Chicago and sometimes still find one of the last real deal Bluesmen playing the clubs of the South and West sides.

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