Jimmy Reed Vinyl Records Lps For Sale

Jimmy Reed was born in 1925 on a plantation in Mississippi. He learned how to play guitar and harmonica from his friend Eddie Taylor, who was just starting to find success as a musician. After a brief stint in the Navy, Jimmy ended up in Indiana and started to break into the blues scene around Indiana and Chicago. He started playing as a side man in John Brim’s band, and it’s interesting to note that the drummer was future blues icon Albert King. Reed eventually reconnected with Eddie Taylor and created a musical partnership which lasted the duration of his life. Their big break was the song You Don’t Have to Go along with the B side Boogie in the Dark, which charted very high on the Billboard R&B charts. This success was also combined with Reed’s decline into alcoholism, which eventually impaired his ability to be on stage. His mainstream success allowed him to sell more records than such blues greats as Elmore James, Muddy Waters, and Howlin’ Wolf. Jimmy’s biggest singles include Big Boss Man and Bright Lights, Big City. Reed died of respiratory complications in 1976 after abusing alcohol for many years. We recommend starting your Jimmy Reed vinyl collection with the essential Rockin’ with Reed from his Vee Jay Records label. Our LP inventory is constantly changing, so check back often, or browse our list of vinyl from blues musicians.

Jimmy Reed Rockin With Reed Lp Vinyl

Jimmy Reed: The Harmonica-Driven Master of the Blues

Jimmy Reed, born Mathis James Reed on September 6, 1925, in Dunleith, Mississippi, was a blues icon known for his harmonica-driven sound and easygoing vocal style. He played a pivotal role in shaping the Chicago blues scene and left an indelible mark on the genre. Throughout his career, Reed’s distinctive harmonica and heartfelt lyrics resonated with audiences, making him one of the most influential blues musicians of his time.

Early Life and Musical Beginnings

Jimmy Reed’s early life was deeply rooted in the Mississippi Delta, a region known for its rich blues heritage. He grew up surrounded by the sounds of the Delta blues and learned to play the harmonica at a young age. His early influences included blues legends like Sonny Boy Williamson and Big Joe Williams, whose harmonica styles left a lasting impact on his own playing.

Migration to Chicago and Musical Career

In the mid-1940s, Jimmy Reed, like many other blues musicians, made the journey to Chicago, a city where the electric blues was thriving. There, he began performing in local clubs and soon established himself as a blues artist. His harmonica skills and distinctive vocal delivery quickly set him apart.

Innovative Harmonica Style

Jimmy Reed’s harmonica style was instantly recognizable. He played the instrument with a characteristic tongue-blocking technique, creating a deep, resonant sound that became a hallmark of his music. His harmonica work often served as the driving force behind his songs, setting the stage for his heartfelt lyrics.

Recording Career and Signature Songs

Reed’s career took off in the 1950s when he signed with Vee-Jay Records. He released a string of hits that would become classics in the blues genre, including “Big Boss Man,” “Bright Lights, Big City,” and “Honest I Do.” These songs featured Reed’s warm, conversational vocal delivery and his harmonica’s melodic wail. His recordings showcased a style that was relaxed yet deeply expressive, making them accessible and appealing to a wide audience.

Influence on the Blues Genre

Jimmy Reed’s influence on the blues genre was profound. He played a pivotal role in shaping the Chicago blues sound, incorporating elements of rhythm and blues and rock and roll into his music. His relaxed, easygoing approach to singing and harmonica playing made the blues accessible to a broader audience, including those who might not have been avid blues listeners.

Live Performances and Connection with Audiences

Reed’s live performances were characterized by his charismatic stage presence and his ability to connect with audiences. His friendly and unassuming demeanor endeared him to fans, and he often interacted with them between songs, creating an intimate and inviting atmosphere at his shows.

Personal Struggles and Resilience

Like many blues musicians of his era, Jimmy Reed faced personal challenges, including issues related to alcohol. However, his music remained a constant source of joy and expression throughout his life. Despite these challenges, he continued to perform and record, displaying remarkable resilience and an unwavering commitment to his music.

Legacy and Enduring Impact

Jimmy Reed’s legacy is that of a harmonica virtuoso and an influential blues artist whose music continues to captivate and inspire. His approachable style and timeless songs have made him a beloved figure in the world of blues. His music, characterized by its heartfelt lyrics and harmonica-driven sound, serves as a testament to the enduring power of the blues.


Jimmy Reed’s life and career embody the essence of the blues. His harmonica mastery, distinctive vocals, and accessible style continue to inspire new generations of musicians and listeners. As a blues icon, his contributions to the genre are a reminder of the blues’ enduring power to convey emotion, share stories, and connect people through the universal language of music. Jimmy Reed’s harmonica will forever be an essential part of the blues’ rich tapestry.

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