Jimmy Reed

Big Boss Man

Composed by Al Smith / Luther Dixon

Song Review by

As strongly identified with the original artist as the song may be, Jimmy Reed didn't write this, a collaboration between his producer, Al Smith and Vee-Jay Records staff writer Luther Dixon. Structurally, the song may just be an up-tempo blues, but the stomp-time shuffle rhythm became one of blues/R&B/rock & roll's most signature beats. Tommy Tucker's "High Heel Sneakers" is totally based on Reed's "Bossman" rhythm, which also fuels the drive of Chuck Berry's "Memphis," the Newbeats' "Bread and Butter," the Ikettes' "Peaches and Cream," G.L. Crockett's "It's a Man Down There," and Marvin Gaye's "Can I Get a Witness" and "Wonderful One." The better-known cover versions of Reed's simple masterpiece include Charlie Rich on Groove, a live recording by Slim Harpo (unreleased until the 1990s), and, probably the most famous of all, Elvis Presley's '60s cover. The beat that launched a thousand hits.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Found Love 1959 VeeJay Records 2:50
Jimmy Reed at Carnegie Hall 1961 Collectables 2:50
Jimmy Reed Plays 12 String Guitar Blues 1963 VeeJay Records 2:51
The Legend, the Man 1965 VeeJay Records 3:53
Big Boss Man [Ronn] 1972 Ronn Records 2:53
The Best of Jimmy Reed [GNP] 1977 GNP 2:55
Blues Is Alright, Vol. 3 1978
Various Artists
Malaco
Oldies But Goodies: Legendary Hits 1979
Various Artists
Original Sound Entertainment 2:52
No Image 1985 Charly Records
Hits from the Legendary Vee Jay Records 1986
Various Artists
Motown 2:49
Oldies But Goodies, Vol. 1 1987
Various Artists
Original Sound Entertainment
Bright Lights, Big City 1988 Chameleon 2:51
Golden Oldies, Vol. 4 [Original Sound 1989] 1989
Various Artists
Original Sound Entertainment 2:50
The Collectables Blues Collection, Vol. 1 1990
Various Artists
Collectables 2:49
No Image 1990 Motown
Greatest Hits [Charly] 1990 Classic Blues 2:47
Kings of the Blues Guitar 1992
Various Artists
Charly Records / Charly Budget / JDC Records 2:47
Speak the Lyrics to Me, Mama Reed 1993 Vee-Jay
Vee-Jay: Celebrating 40 Years of Classic Hits 1953-1993 1993
Various Artists
Vee-Jay 2:51
That's Blues [Drive] 1995
Various Artists
Golden Stars
The Music Never Stopped: Roots of the Grateful Dead 1995
Various Artists
Shanachie Records 2:49
The Essential Blues [House of Blues] 1995
Various Artists
A&M
Honest I Do & Other Classics 1996 Intercontinental Records
School's Out 1996 Vent 3:41
Charly Blues Masterworks, Vol. 17: Bright Lights, Big City 1996 Charly Records
Upside the Wall 1997 Dove 2:49
Legends of Blues [Intercontinental] 1997
Various Artists
Intercontinental Records 2:46
New Jimmy Reed Album/Soulin' 1997 See For Miles Records 2:50
Best of the Blues, Vol. 2 [BMG] 1997
Various Artists
BMG 2:47
Lost in the Shuffle 1997 32 Jazz 2:51
The King's Record Collection, Vol. 2 1998
Various Artists
Hip-O 2:53
His Greatest Recordings: Original Classic Series 1998 Aim Records 2:45
Generations of Blues, Vol. 2: Born in Chicago 1998
Various Artists
Vanguard 2:54
Masters 1998 2:48
Sun Is Shining 1998 Mastertone 2:58
Golden Age of Blue Chicago 1998
Various Artists
Blue Chicago 2:50
No Image 1998
Various Artists
BMG Special Products 2:47
The Very Best of Jimmy Reed [Charly] 1999 Charly Records 2:49
Absolutely the Best of the Blues, Vol. 1 1999
Various Artists
Fuel 2000 / Varese 2:48
Boss Man 1999 Recall (UK) 2:49
Living the Blues: Blues Masters 1999
Various Artists
Time/Life Music
20 Classic Tracks 2000 Eagle Rock / Cleopatra 2:48
Millennium Blues 2000
Various Artists
Jamey Aebersold
Blues Masters: The Very Best of Jimmy Reed 2000
EP Collection...Plus 2000 See For Miles Records 2:46
Oldies But Goodies, Vol. 1 & 2 2000
Various Artists
Original Sound Entertainment 2:52
The Very Best of Blues, Vol. 5 2000
Various Artists
Collectables 2:50
Pure Blues 2001
Various Artists
UTV 2:46
The Blues Box [Simply the Best] 2001
Various Artists
Simply The Best (Netherlands) 2:51
Big Boss Man [Box Set] 2001 Collectables 2:50
Raw Blues, Vol. 2 2002
Various Artists
Prestige Elite Records
The Story of Vee-Jay: America's Premier Black Music Label 2002
Various Artists
Metro
Good Morning Bluesman 2003
Various Artists
P-Vine Records 2:53
No Image 2003
Various Artists
Body & Soul / Body and Soul 2:48
Best of Vee-Jay Blues 2003
Various Artists
Collectables 2:50
Martin Scorsese Presents the Blues: A Musical Journey 2003
Original Soundtrack
Hip-O / Universal 2:49
Blues Story [Shout! Factory] 2003
Various Artists
Shout! Factory 2:52
The Very Best of Jimmy Reed 2003 Tomato 2:46
Best of Chicago Blues [Rhino] 2003
Various Artists
Flashback Records / Rhino Flashback 2:46
Golden Oldies, Vol. 11 [Original Sound 2003] 2003
Various Artists
Original Sound Entertainment 2:52
Sun Is Shining [2004] 2004 Snapper 2:47
Solid Gold, Vol. 1 2004 Liquid 8 2:51
Back Home Blues: Every Day I Have the Blues 2004
Various Artists
Prism Entertainment 2:49
The Essential Boss Man: The Very Best of the Vee-Jay Years, 1953-1966 2005 Snapper / Charly Records 2:46
Singing the Blues: 44 Blues Classics 2005
Various Artists
Prism Entertainment 2:49
Story Songs and Voices of the Blues 2005 Direct Source 2:52
Blues: Gold 2006
Various Artists
Hip-O / Universal 2:51
Blues Legends/Blues in the Night 2006
Various Artists
Direct Source Special 2:52
Vee-Jay: The Definitive Collection 2007
Various Artists
Shout! Factory 2:52
The Best of the Vee-Jay Years 2007 Shout! Factory 2:48
Sweet Soul Music: 1961 2008
Various Artists
Bear Family Records 2:50
Boss Man: The Best & Rarest of Jimmy Reed 2009 The Great American Music Company 2:47
No Image 2011
Various Artists
Polystar / Universal 2:47
50 of the Most Influential Blues Songs of the 20th Century 2011
Various Artists
Jasmine Records 2:47
Blues at Carnegie Hall 2012 Broken Audio 2:46
Plug It In! Turn It Up! Electric Blues - The Definitive Collection, Pt. 3: 1960-1969 2012
Various Artists
Bear Family Records 2:51
Ain't That Loving You Baby: Singles A's & B's 1953-1961 2013 Jasmine 2:49
100 Blues Classics & Greatest Blues Hits 2013
Various Artists
4:Squared 2:46
Mississippi Bluesmen 2013
Various Artists
AAO Music / United Audio Entertainment 2:48
The Blues 2014 One & Only Blues
Duane Allman's Jukebox 2014
Various Artists
Chrome Dreams 2:47
Four Classic Albums 2016 Avid / Avid Roots
No Image
Various Artists
Forever Classic Hits 2:53
No Image
Various Artists
Forever Classic Hits 2:52
American Sounds of the 60's, Vol. 2
Various Artists
K-Tel 2:50
Beginner's Guide To Rhythm 'N' Blues
Various Artists
Nascente
Big Boss Man: The Vee-Jay Story
Various Artists
One Day Music
No Image
Various Artists
Time/Life Music
Blues Masterworks Allegro Corporation / Delta Blues
Boogie Chillen [Fantastic Voyage]
Various Artists
Fantastic Voyage
Chicago Blues: The Absolutely Essential 3 CD Collection
Various Artists
Big 3 2:49
Essential Blues
Various Artists
Flashback Records
Golden Oldies Hit Series, Vol. 43
Various Artists
Forever Classic Hits 2:52
No Image
Various Artists
MOJO 2:44
Honest I Do: The Best of Jimmy Reed Fourmatt 2:50
How Britain Got the Blues, Vol. 3: How London Got the Blues
Various Artists
History of RnB Records / Rhythm & Blues / Rhythm and Blues 2:51
Jimmy Reed: The Extended Play Collection, Vol. 81 Cherished Records 2:49
Oldies Hits A to Z, Vol. 4
Various Artists
Forever Classic Hits 2:52
Rolling Stones Beginnings, Vol. 2: Yesterday's Papers
Various Artists
History of RnB Records 2:51
Swampbilly Shindig
Various Artists
Metro Select 2:46
The  All Electric Blues Album
Various Artists
Ideal Music Group 2:52
The  Classic Years P.E.R 2:46
The  Original Sound of R&B 1961
Various Artists
Ideal 2:52
The Complete Singles As & Bs: 1953-61 Acrobat / Acrobat Licensing 2:46
Vee-Jay Records Presents The Blues
Various Artists
Charly Records
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