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Blues saxophonist A.C. Reed dies

Reed played with artists like Bonnie Raitt and Buddy Guy
/ Source: Reuters

Blues songwriter and saxophonist A.C. Reed, who shared the stage and recording studio with Buddy Guy and Stevie Ray Vaughan and led his own band, the Spark Plugs, died Wednesday, his record label said. He was 77.

Reed, who was born Aaron Corthen in Wardell, Missouri, on May 9, 1926, died in Chicago of complications from cancer, Alligator Records said in a statement.

Raised in southern Illinois, Reed began playing tenor sax on hearing the band of trumpeter Erskine Hawkins, and later modeled his elegantly simple, honking style on jazzman Gene Ammons.

Reed played with an array of artists that included Albert Collins, Bonnie Raitt and Son Seals. He also recorded three solo albums and wrote humorous songs also recorded by Magic Slim and Charlie Musselwhite.

Down Beat magazine once called Reed “one of the blues’ most incisive originals.”

Reed moved to Chicago in 1942 and found work at a steel mill, using his first paycheck to buy a saxophone at a pawnshop.

Reed studied at the Chicago Conservatory of Music and was tutored by J.T. Brown, Elmore James’ tenor sax player.

Reed joined Guy and Junior Wells’ band in 1967, and opened for the Rolling Stones during a 1970 tour.

In recent years, Reed performed constantly at clubs and at blues festivals. He recorded the albums “Junk Food” in 1998 and “I Got Money” in 2002.