Joshua Altheimer

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Joshua Altheimer was a blues pianist who achieved a considerable following in Chicago, at least among his fellow musicians, during the second half of the 1930s. He hailed, so far as is known, from Altheimer,…
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Joshua Altheimer was a blues pianist who achieved a considerable following in Chicago, at least among his fellow musicians, during the second half of the 1930s. He hailed, so far as is known, from Altheimer, a small city located in the Timberlands Region of Arkansas, in Jefferson County. Born there in 1910, he worked in Arkansas for the first few years of his performing career at the end of the 1920s and early '30s. Altheimer later moved to Chicago where, in 1937, he became the regular pianist for his older contemporary (and fellow Arkansan) Big Bill Broonzy, who may well have known him back home -- Altheimer became the core of the band with which Broonzy would make some of his most successful recordings of the decade. A strong player, with a right hand capable of coaxing rich, diverse figures out of his instrument, he was sought after by many up-and-coming stars in Chicago, including Sonny Boy Williamson (I), Washboard Sam, and Jazz Gillum, and in 1939 was playing on the session where Lonnie Johnson utilized an electric guitar for the first time. Broonzy used him right to the end, which came for Altheimer in 1940 at the age of 30 -- he was succeeded in Broonzy's band by Memphis Slim.