Über Guitar Slim
During his brief career in the 1950s, this showstopping New Orleans blues man established himself as one of the earliest to master the art of electric guitar violence. His stabbing lead lines and primitive distortion tone remain unmistakable, as do his pleading, gospelized vocal shouts. He's best known to many through his song "The Things That I Used to Do," a 1954 R&B hit that featured Ray Charles on piano along with a typically swaggering Bayou horn arrangement (also by Charles). None of his other songs are blues standards, but they're full of memorable lines (e.g., "Well I Done Got Over It") and interesting twists on the well-worn twelve-bar blues progression. His greatest legacy, though, is as a guitarist -- he influenced a whole legion of fellow fret-manglers, including Albert Collins, Jimi Hendrix and Frank Zappa. The latter remarked specifically on Slim's "Story of My Life," a song that, if it's stinging, wounded solo is any indication, explains why he only made it to age 32.