Home of the Live Music Calendar Follow STLBlues on Twitter Follow STLBlues on Facebook Home of the Live Music Calendar Live Music Is Better, Book It Here!! Live music is better, book yours now!

Eric Clapton: Crossroads Guitar Festival 2007 DVD
Son Seals
A Journey Through The Blues: The Son Seals Story
(2007 VizzTone Label Group)

“I've been broke all kinds of different ways, but the one thing I try to keep from being broken is my spirit.“ Son Seals, February 2002

Son Seals was born Frank Seals on August 13, 1942 in Osceola, AR about 50 miles outside Memphis. His father, Jim Seals, played slide trombone, piano, guitar, & drums and danced with the Rabbit Foot Minstrels, whose alumni include Bessie Smith and Ma Rainey. He was also proprietor of the Dipsy Doodle Club - a 175-seat juke joint frequented by Sonny Boy Williamson, Robert Nighthawk and Albert King.

No surprise that Son decided at an early age to become a musician like his father and Jim made sure Son would learn to do things right. Drums were Son’s first instrument; he played them behind Nighthawk at age 13. But by the time he was 18, Son Seals turned his talents to guitar, fronting his own band in Little Rock.

Son Seals hit the road playing guitar with Earl Hooker in 1963, and soon after that as a drummer with Albert King (with whom he recorded the seminal Stax album Live Wire/Blues Power). He moved to Chicago in 1971 and began jamming with everyone from Junior Wells to Hound Dog Taylor to James Cotton and Buddy Guy. After Hound Dog Taylor's Alligator debut album hit and he began touring, Son took over Hound Dog's regular weekend gigs at The Expressway Lounge and Flamingo Club on Chicago's South Side. It was at one of those gigs that Bruce Iglauer of Alligator Records discovered Son.

Seals' jagged, uncompromising guitar riffs and gruff vocals were showcased very effectively on that 1973 debut, The Son Seals Blues Band, which contained his “Your Love Is like a Cancer“ and a raging instrumental called “Hot Sauce.“ Son's audience base grew as he began to tour, playing colleges, clubs and festivals across the country. His 1977 album, Midnight Son, was his true breakthrough. The album received widespread acclaim from every major music publication. Rolling Stone called it “one of the most significant blues albums of the decade.“ Robert Palmer, writing in The New York Times, called Son “the most exciting young blues guitarist and singer in years.“

On the strength of Midnight Son, Son began what would become regular tours of Europe, and he even appeared in a national television ad for Olympia beer. A strong series of six more successful Alligator releases followed through the 1980s and 1990s, growing Son's audience from a few hundred into many thousands. He became a favorite of critics everywhere. “Excellent modern blues,” exclaimed Blues & Rhythm. Musician declared Son delivered “performances of the most profound emotion...one of the genre's most soulful exorcists.” But it wasn't just the critics. Fellow musicians - from inside and outside of the blues world - took notice of Son’s immense talents. He shared stages with icons like B.B. King and Johnny Winter. Even the popular rock group Phish came calling, covering Son’s “Funky Bitch” on record and inviting the bluesman to join them on stage at many of their tour stops.

Over the years, Son had his share of hardship, more than most experience in a lifetime. His personal life took two devastating blows in the late '90s. On January 5, 1997, during a domestic dispute, Seals was shot in the jaw by his former spouse, the bullet permanently lodged in his brain. He miraculously recovered and continued touring. Two years later he had his left leg amputated as a result of diabetes. What would have surely forced most performers into retirement only made Son more dedicated to his music and audience.

In 2000, Son Seals signed to Telarc Blues and recorded Lettin’ Go, which won a W.C. Handy (now Blues Music) Award for Traditional Blues Album of the Year. In 2002 Alligator released Deluxe Edition highlighting the best of Son.

Son's reputation as a charismatic live performer and a fiercely individual songwriter took him from playing in small clubs to headlining international blues festivals. He emerged as one of Chicago's - and the world's - greatest bluesmen, and one of the genre's most powerful live performers. From his introduction as a hot young firebrand in 1973 to becoming a leading voice of Chicago blues, Son Seals blazed a blues trail that others will follow for years to come.

Son Seals passed away on December 20, 2004 due to complications from diabetes.

“Son was a bluesman through and through. He never tried to smooth the rough edges off his guitar sound, nor the grit from his voice. His music was all about healing.” Bruce Iglauer, Alligator Records


Veteran Guitarist Paying the Dues to Play the Blues by Dave Hoekstra, Chicago Sun-Times, February 3, 2002
Son Seals Biography, Alligator Records
Son Seals Biography by Bill Dahl and Al Campbell, All Music Guide

Ciao’ for now, peace.
Cornbread | Cornbread@STLBlues.net

Father Time - Ross & Hunt       
Enjoy our Blues reviews
STLBlues CD Reviews :: By band/artist first name
St. Louis based bands & musicians
More National Bands
 Live Music Calendar | Send Blues News | © STLBlues 2000 | Privacy Policy