sseals.jpgFrank “Son” Seals not only sang the blues, he lived them. A car accident in 1995 severely injured his left hand. Two years later, he was shot in the face during a domestic dispute. A lifelong diabetic, part of Seals’ left leg was amputated in 1999. More recently, his motor home was destroyed by fire and his custom-made guitar was stolen.
Despite these troubles, the gravelly-voiced singer/songwriter and guitarist toured all over the country and in Europe. He shared the stage with B.B. King, Johnny Winter and the jam band, Phish. Robert Palmer, writing for The New York Times once described Seals as “the most exciting young blues guitarist and singer in years.”
Seals was taught to play the guitar by his father, a former minstrel show performer and juke joint operator. However, the Arkansas native entered the music business in the late 1960s as a drummer, accompanying artists such as Earl Hooker and Albert King.
Seals moved to Chicago in 1971 and found regular work performing in South Side clubs. He released his debut album, “The Son Seals Blues Band,” in 1973 with Alligator Records, a premier blues label. Rolling Stone magazine called his sophomore effort, “Midnight Son,” one of the most significant blues albums of the 1970s. He recorded seven more albums for Alligator and two for other labels; his final album, “Lettin’ Go,” was released in 2000.
Seals won three W.C. Handy Blues Awards and received a Grammy nomination in 1980 for his work on the live compilation “Blues Deluxe.” In the 1990s, he performed at the White House for President Bill Clinton.
Seals died on Dec. 20 of complications from diabetes. He was 62.
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