Jimmie Lee Robinson, a Chicago blues stalwart known for his pointed lyrics and storyteller's sensibility, was found dead in his car Saturday on Chicago's southwest side. He was 71. He had a single gun
Jimmie Lee Robinson, a Chicago blues stalwart known for his pointed lyrics and storyteller's sensibility, was found dead in his car Saturday on Chicago's southwest side. He was 71. He had a single gunshot wound to his head and his death was ruled a suicide, the Cook County Medical Examiner's office said.
Robinson, who recently was diagnosed with bone cancer, changed his name to J.L. Latif Aliomar in a religious conversion two years ago. But he was better known by his original name and as one of Chicago's top sidemen in the 1950s. A decade later, he had become a blues headliner in his own right.
"Jimmie Lee definitely qualified as a blues legend, but in hard-core circles," said Marc Sheforgen, associate director of APO Records, which was Robinson's recording label since 1998.
In the 1970s, Robinson left the music business when the blues went into decline. He ran a jitney taxi service, worked as a carpenter, and opened a store before reviving his career more than 20 years later.
Robinson capped his comeback with an 81-day hunger strike in 2000 to protest gentrification on Chicago's historic Maxwell Street, where he was born and raised. While a wrecking ball demolished a brick facade behind him, Robinson sat on a stool with an old acoustic guitar and performed "Maxwell St. Teardown Blues," which became his signature song.
He had just finished his last recording before he died, according to APO Records. A release date has not been set.
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