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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Chicago blues musician Lacy Gibson dies of heart attack, recorded on Alligator, Delmark Records

Chicago-based record label Alligator Records has announced the death of Chicago blues musician Lacy Gibson:

Famed Chicago bluesman Lacy Gibson died on April 11 as a result of a heart attack. Known for his sophisticated, jazz-influenced guitar style and robust vocals, Gibson was a musician's musician. 

He recorded three albums under his own name and appeared on scores of recordings. His rich, flashy guitar style was featured in dozens of bands, including those of Son Seals, Otis Rush, Willie Dixon, Jimmy Reed, Billy "The Kid" Emerson, Billy Boy Arnold, Sun Ra and many others.

Born on May 1, 1936, in Salisbury, North Carolina, Gibson headed to Chicago with his family in 1949. 
He gravitated to the city's blues scene, where he met Willie Dixon, Matt "Guitar" Murphy,  Sunnyland Slim and Muddy Waters, learning directly from the masters.

By the mid-1960s, Gibson was an in-demand session player for local labels, including Chess, where he worked with Buddy Guy and sang "My Love Is Real" with Buddy on guitar. He cut two 45s for the tiny Repetto label in 1968, one of which also features Guy on guitar. His first LP, "Wishing Ring," was released on his brother-in-law Sun Ra's El Saturn label in 1971.

Gibson played in Son Seals' band for two years, and appears on Seals' "Live And Burning" album on Chicago-based Alligator Records. His opening numbers at Son's shows were always highlights, which is why Alligator Records president Bruce Iglauer recruited Gibson to cut four stand-out tracks for the label's Grammy Award-nominated Living Chicago Blues series, released in 1980

In 1983 Gibson released "Switchy Titchy" on the Black Magic label. During the 1980s and throughout the 1990s he continued to perform locally around Chicago, sometimes with his own band and other times backing Billy Boy Arnold and Big Time Sarah.

Along with his wife, Gibson ran Ann's Love Nest, an after-hours club on Chicago's west side. Over the years Gibson continued to hone his craft and perform as his health allowed. He appeared at the Chicago Blues Festival in 2004, performing his signature version of "Drown In My Own Tears" to thunderous applause from the crowd.

His most recent release was 1996's "Crying For My Baby" (on Delmark Records), a first-issue of sessions originally recorded during the 1970s.

Survivors include his wife, Ann Gibson, son Erte Lacy Shaffer, daughters Coronto Shaffer, Synphia Shaffer, Verdonna Shaffer, B.B. Gibson, Tamika Gibson, 17 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

No funeral arrangements have been announced at this time.