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Son Seals: 1942-2004
Son Seals

Born: August 13, 1942 in Osceola, AR
Died: December 20, 2004 in Chicago, IL

Chicago-based blues guitarist

by Todd S. Jenkins
Copyright © 2005 Todd S. Jenkins

Blues guitarist Frank "Son" Seals, who emerged as a powerful force in Chicago's blues scene in the 1970s, died of complications from diabetes on December 20, 2004. He was 62 years old. Seals came to Chicago in 1971 from his hometown of Osceola, Arkansas, where he had learned to play drums and guitar as a teenager. In the Windy City he landed high-profile gigs with Buddy Guy, Junior Wells and other popular blues artists. In 1973 the still-young Alligator Records label issued his debut, The Son Seals Blues Band. Seals knew how to advantageously use a horn section to add power to his tunes, and his unique, choppy guitar technique sounded like nothing else in the business.

In 1980 Seals participated in Chicagofest alongside Muddy Waters and Koko Taylor. He was later nominated for a Grammy for the live recording of that event. Seals received W.C. Handy Blues Awards in 1985, 1987, and 2001. His 2000 album Lettin' Go featured guests like organist Al Kooper and Phish guitarist Trey Anastasio. In 2002 Alligator issued Deluxe Edition, a compilation of Seals' greatest recordings for the label.

Son Seals is survived by his sister and fourteen children.

Todd S. Jenkins
Todd S. Jenkins is a member of the JJA, author of Free Jazz and Free Improvisation: An Encyclopedia (Greenwood Press, 2004) and I Know What I Know: The Music of Charles Mingus (Praeger, 2006), and a contributor to Down Beat, All About Jazz, American Songwriter and Route 66 Magazine.


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