Junior Kimbrough (1930–1998)

Updated: March 01, 2011

Blues singer, guitarist, and songwriter.

Born July 28, 1930, David “Junior” Kimbrough—a singer- guitarist and juke joint operator from Holly Springs, Mississippi—became known late in life for his signature style of country blues. Until age sixty-two, Kimbrough was known only regionally, performing at his establishment near Holly Springs and at other north Mississippi clubs. In 1992 he gained fame through his appearance in the documentary film Deep Blues and through the release of his first album, All Night Long, produced by music critic Robert Palmer. Along with fellow blues musician R. L. Burnside, Kimbrough helped bring the Oxford, Mississippi–based blues label Fat Possum Records to national prominence.

Kimbrough recorded three other albums for Fat Possum: Sad Days, Lonely Nights (1993), Most Things Haven’t Worked Out (1997), and the posthumously released God Knows I Tried (1998). Fat Possum also released Meet Me in the City in 1999, a collection of recorded live performances of Kimbrough as a solo artist and with his band, the Soul Blues Boys. In 1997 the Hightone label released Do the Rump, an album of Kimbrough recordings from 1982 and 1988 produced by ethnomusicologist David Evans.

Kimbrough’s approach to blues mixed traditional folk forms such as field hollers with Memphis soul rhythms and rock sounds to create a style of music often referred to by reviewers as “hypnotic.” Unlike more traditional acoustic country blues guitarists, Kimbrough primarily played electric guitar so that he could be heard over the loud crowds at his juke joint. Kimbrough’s influence on Appalachian music extended beyond the blues: rockabilly legend Charlie Feathers, before becoming an influential musician at Sun Records in Memphis, received guitar lessons from Kimbrough. The 1998 Feathers anthology Get with It features Kimbrough on some early demo tracks. Kimbrough died of a heart attack on January 17, 1998.

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"Junior Kimbrough," Encyclopedia of Appalachia, 2018, Encyclopedia of Appalachia. 21 Oct 2018 <http://www.encyclopediaofappalachia.com/entry.php?rec=131>

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"Junior Kimbrough." (2018) In Encyclopedia of Appalachia, Retrieved October 21, 2018, from Encyclopedia of Appalachia: http://www.encyclopediaofappalachia.com/entry.php?rec=131

Junior Kimbrough