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All Music Guide:
Chicago guitarist Jimmy Dawkins would just as soon leave his longtime nickname "Fast Fingers" behind. It was always something of a stylistic misnomer anyway; Dawkins' West Side-styled guitar slashes and surges, but seldom burns with incendiary speed. Dawkins' blues are generally of the brooding, introspective variety -- he doesn't engage in flashy pyrotechnics or outrageous showmanship.
It took a long time for Dawkins to progress from West Side fixture to nationally known recording artist. He rode a Greyhound bus out of Mississippi in 1955, dressing warmly to ward off the Windy City's infamous chill factor. Only trouble was, he arrived on a sweltering July day! Harpist Billy Boy Arnold offered the newcomer encouragement, and he eventually carved out a niche on the competitive West Side scene (his peers included Magic Sam and Luther Allison).
Sam introduced Dawkins to Delmark Records boss Bob Koester. Fast Fingers, Dawkins' 1969 debut LP for Delmark -- still his best album to date -- was a taut, uncompromising piece of work that won the Grand Prix du Disque de Jazz from the Hot Club of France in 1971 as the year's top album. Andrew "Big Voice" Odom shared the singing and Otis Rush the second guitar duties on Dawkins' 1971 encore, All for Business. But after his Delmark LP Blisterstring, Dawkins' subsequent recordings lacked intensity until 1991's oddly titled Kant Sheck Dees Bluze for Chicago's Earwig Records. After that, Dawkins waxed discs for Ichiban and Fedora, and continued to tour extensively until health problems slowed him down. Jimmy Dawkins passed away April 10, 2013.
James Henry "Jimmy" Dawkins (October 24, 1936 – April 10, 2013) was an American Chicago blues and electric blues guitarist and singer. He was generally considered a part of the "West Side Sound" of Chicago blues. He was born in Tchula, Mississippi in 1936.
He moved to Chicago in 1955. He worked in a box factory, and started to play local blues clubs, gaining a reputation as a session musician.
In 1969, thanks to the efforts of his friend Magic Sam, he released his first album Fast Fingers on Delmark Records, winning the "Grand Prix du Disque" from the Hot Club de France. In 1971 Delmark released his second album All For Business with singer, Andrew "Big Voice" Odom, and the guitarist, Otis Rush. Dawkins also toured in the late 1970s backed up by James Solberg (of Luther Allison and The Nighthawks fame) on guitar and Jon Preizler (The Lamont Cranston Band, The Drifters), a Seattle based Hammond B-3 player known for his soulful jazz influenced style. Other musicians that toured with Jimmy Dawkins in the late 1970s were Jimi Schutte (drummer), Sylvester Boines (bass), Rich Kirch and Billy Flynn (guitars). With this combination of musicians Dawkins also toured Europe.
Dawkins began to tour in Europe and Japan and recorded more albums in the United States and Europe. Dawkins also contributed a column to the blues magazine Living Blues. In the 1980s he released few recordings, but began his own record label, Leric Records, and was more interested in promoting other artists, including Taildragger, Queen Sylvia Embry, Little Johnny Christian and Nora Jean Wallace.
Dawkins died of undisclosed causes on April 10, 2013.