John Primer by Dan Hack

DH: John, thanks for agreeing to talk to your fans world wide through the Bluesletter and our dot com site. Tell your fan base about your influences, did you have any influences in your career?

JP: Yeah man, I had a lot of influences at Theresa’s playing with Junior Wells, Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, all those guys Willie Dixon, sitting in with Buddy Guy. Some of my biggest influence was Buddy!

DH: Was there a time that Checkerboard and Theresa’s competed with one another for best acts in town?
JP: Yeah they did. That was good man, people would go to Theresa’s to get a taste and then head over to Checkerboard and get a taste of that. We would all leave Theresa’s to head over to Checkerboard, and a lot of people would leave Checkerboard to go down to Theresa’s.

_MG_6976DH: You started your career what year?
JP: 1974

DH: How did that begin and with who?
JP: I knew this guy that played with Willie Dixon called John Watkins and he was working at Theresa’s Lounge and he, I joined the band.

DH: Theresa’s house band?
JP: No, I joined John Watkins Band, he was leaving Theresa’s and he asked me, “Hey man you want to take my place at Theresa’s?” and I said, “Yeah!” he said, “Be there on Sunday don’t be late.” That’s how I got the gig down there and that started my career. Theresa’s started my career.

DH: What’d you do then the next 5 and ten years?
JP: Seven years I played at Theresa’s with the house band and then in 1979, Willie Dixon came down to Theresa’s and got me.

_MG_4366DH: So he recruited you to his band?
JP: Yeah, in 1979.

DH: How long did that run go?
JP: Ahh, about a year.

DH: Tour of the U.S. or domestic?
JP: My first gig was in Mexico City. With him, he got my first passport and everything.

DH: What was after that, the next phase?
JP: The next phase was with Muddy, Muddy Waters.

DH: That lasted maybe a decade?
JP: 1980 – 90.
DH: 80 – 90, and in 83 he passed right?
JP: 83, 2 and a half years I played with Muddy.

DH: So where would you guy’s go at that time, domestic, international?
JP: Chicago, everywhere all domestic, international, we went everywhere.

DH: Who else was in the band at that time?
JP: A whole new band, it was Muddy Waters band, me, Mojo Buford on harmonica, Ray Killer Allison on drums, Lovie Lee Watson on piano, and Leonard Johnson on bass. We were the house band at Theresa’s

…and I said, “Nah man, you’ll be good but I’m the teacher, you got to watch out for the teacher, you got short cuts and you got long cuts.”

DH: Very nice. How about the year after that where did you end up branching out to, were you out on your own?
JP: Nah, I got with Magic Slim after that. When Muddy got sick I got with Magic Slim in 1982.

DH: And that took you through how many years with him?
JP: 13 years. Magic Slim’s son is up there now, when he was six years old I met him, and he told his dad to tell me, “When I learn how to play guitar, I’m gonna kick his ass!” and I said, “Nah man, you’ll be good but I’m the teacher, you got to watch out for the teacher, you got short cuts and you got long cuts.”

jpbcDH: Tell us about your new release I picked up a copy of it, it sounds good.
JP: Knockin’ Around These Blues with Bob Corritore. I got one On Solid Ground too.

DH: That’s the new one yet to be released?
JP: Nah, it’s released before Knockin’ Around These Blues, it came out about a year ago.

DH: How about your favorite guitar what do you like to play, are you a Gibson man?
JP: Uhm, I like Gibson guitars but I like Epiphone. I’ve been playing Epiphone since
1985, in 1982 I was playing a Gibson and it got stolen. So I wouldn’t buy another expensive guitar. So I play Epiphone, and that’s what I play. I wouldn’t play no other guitar. You know I will, but I’m in the business of trying to get me a Gibson Les Paul.

DH: Oh for real, maybe we need to send a letter to Gibson.
JP: Yeah, I want a Gibson Les Paul now.

DH: Alright we’ll put that on Santa, you believe in Santa Clause right?
JP: Yup.

Get me a Les Paul. Gibsoooooon! Help me out!

DH: Well Santa you hear him…
JP: Get me a Les Paul. Gibsoooooon! Help me out!

DH: Anything else you want to share?
JP: Just keep the blues alive and keep on playin’.

Dan Hack

Dan Hack

Dan Hack is a born n' raised South Side of Chicago guy. In fact he's still living in the same zip code as in his youth, when he discovered the album Electric Mud by Muddy Waters back in 1972, at age 13. He was electrified, and has been addicted to Chicago Blues ever since. He has been interviewing musicians and writing for BG:Blues and Music News since 2013.

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