Tox Tunes #61: Reefer Head Woman (Jazz Gillum and His Jazz Boys)

August 26, 2012, 9:34 pm

Although Jazz Gillum is given credit for the similarly titled track on Aerosmith’s Night in the Ruts album, this 1938 song is very different lyrically and musically.

William “Jazz” Gillum (1904-1966) was a Mississippi-born blues harmonica player who recorded for the RCA Bluebird label in Chicago. In The Blackwell Guide to Blues Records, John Cowley writes:

A singer with a voice that matched the buzzy intonation of his harmonica playing, Gillum did not achieve the popularity of John Lee [Sonny Boy] Williamson. His innovative approach, however, usually with the support of Big Bill [Broonzy] on guitar and other instrumentalists, stands out alongside contemporary performers.

In addition to Gillum on vocals and harp, this cut includes Big Bill Broonzy (rhythm guitar), George Barnes (electric lead guitar), and Washboard Sam (washboard).

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