Henry Harris (AKA SOUTH SIDE SLIM) grew up in Oakland in the 70’s and early 80’s listening to a wide range of innumerable musicians, including Hendrix, Muddy Waters, Van Halen, and the Isley Brothers. He spent his mid-20’s hanging out in Hollywood. During his Hollywood years he fortuitously met up with the great LA blues guitarist Ray Bailey. Bailey turned him on to blues played with a rock-infused feel. Henry got serious about his guitar in 1992 when he fell upon some hard luck. He turned to his dad for help and asked if he could live in his trucking yard at 61st and Avalon in Los Angeles. Hank, as he was known then, wanted to use the opportunity of being homeless to focus on really learning to play the guitar, an instrument he had fooled around with since high school.
He practiced a minimum of 6 hours a day. Evenings found him walking to jam sessions at local blues spots, including, Babe and Ricky’s (at its original spot at 53rd and Central), the Safari Club, and competitive private juke joints. After returning each night to the yard, he slept in an old van, showering in the morning with a hose behind some wood slats. He treasures those years and recognizes how valuable the time was in developing him into a bona fide blues musician. “Those years were like my FAME. I was going to school. I submitted myself to learn as much about the blues, performing, and the guitar as I could. I soaked up everything about the old guys, those bluesmen who really lived and looked the part.”
By 1998 Little Hank had transformed himself into South Side Slim, guitarist and singer/song writer. He wrote, arranged and recorded his first CD, 5 Steps, with Southside Records, a company he and blues guitarist-math professor, Jerry Rosen, had formed. Within the next three years Slim cut two more original CD’s. More Blues from the South Side (2000) included cuts from South Los Angeles bluesmen, Smokey Wilson and Curtis Tillman. Raising Hell (2001) continues to receive critical accolades. In 2004, South Side Slim released, Trouble on the South Side, garnering international praise.
He won many fans when he brought the crowds to their feet at both the Pocono and North Atlantic Blues Festivals during a recent national tour. Slim is a recent recipient of Los Angeles Weekly’s Music Award for Best Contemporary Blues/R&B Artist.
In 2009 Slim produced two CDs
Life Under Pressure evolved from jamming in the studio while the tape was rolling. Slim then gave selected songs, improvised during that session, to top shelf musicians, including Willie McNeil and Norman Weatherly. The result is an accomplished CD that retains the punch of its original conception.
In South Side All Stars Doing Barnyard Hits, Slim has accomplished a feat that has never been done before. He brought over sixteen blues legends from South Central Los Angeles into the studio and recorded each one performing an original take on a blues classic. Los Angeles blues history was not only made with this CD, but the city’s legacy has been recorded for future generations to honor and enjoy.
In 2014, Slim appeared with Paul McCartney and Johnny Depp in ‘Early Days’ music video
In one of his biggest accomplishments of 2014, South Side Slim auditioned for, and was hired to jam with Sir Paul McCartney for his Early Days music video off of the latest album entitled ‘New’. Watch the behind-the-scenes jam with Paul McCartney and Johnny Depp by clicking here.
Slim’s memoir-biography, Sweetback Blues: The Twelve Bar Tale of South Side Slim, has been completed by Kari Fretham and is on its way to publication. Slim’s story is an up-close and personal look at a modern bluesman’s journey, including the years he spent on the south side of Los Angeles, the city’s treasure trove of blues.