PASSINGS: Magic Slim, Cleotha Staples, Lou Myers, Donald Rutledge

Magic Slim

Singer of Chicago blues

Magic Slim, 75, whose ragged voice and punchy guitar riffs made him a symbol of Chicago blues, died Thursday in Philadelphia after surgery for a bleeding ulcer, according to his family.

A younger contemporary of blues icons Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf, Slim and his backup band, the Teardrops, were known for a no-holds-barred style of Chicago electric blues.

"If you were going to take somebody who'd never seen blues to one of their shows, it would be like putting them in a time machine and putting them in 1962. No frills, no rock 'n' roll. It was just straight-ahead, real-deal blues," said Marty Salzman, Slim's manager.

Lou Myers obituary: An obituary of actor Lou Myers in the Feb. 25 LATExtra section reported his date of birth as Sept. 26, 1945, and his age as 76. He was born Sept. 26, 1935, and was 77 when he died.

Born Morris Holt in Torrance, Miss., on Aug. 7, 1937, he worked in the cotton fields as a child and made his own guitar out of baling wire nailed to a wall. He also tried piano but switched back to guitar after he lost a little finger in a cotton-gin accident.

One of his earliest musical influences was Sam Maghett, who was known professionally as Magic Sam when he became a Chicago blues star in the 1960s. The two met after Morris moved to Grenada, Miss., when he was 11 and started jamming together on Sundays after church. In 1955, Morris followed his friend to Chicago, where Sam anointed him Magic Slim, a reference to Morris' height, which exceeded 6 feet, and gave him his first job as a bass player.

He was spurned by Chicago's blues players, who didn't think he was good enough to join their sessions, so he returned to Mississippi to hone his skills. After five years, "I came back," he told the Chicago Tribune in 1996, and announced, "All right, I'm ready for y'all now!"

In 1966 he recorded his first single, "Scufflin." The next year he recruited his younger brothers, Nick and Douglas, to form the Teardrops and was on his way to becoming a Chicago institution. He cut his first album, "Born Under a Bad Sign," for a French label in 1977. Later he recorded regularly for Alligator Records, Rooster Blues, Wolf Records and Blind Pig Records.

He and the Teardrops won the Blues Music Award for blues band of the year in 2003. In his 70s he remained active on the music festival circuit and won critical praise for his recordings, which included "Black Tornado" (1998), "Snakebite" (2000), "Raising the Bar" (2010) and "Bad Boy" (2012).

Cleotha Staples

Co-founder of soul and gospel group

Cleotha Staples, 78, a founding member of the soul and gospel group The Staple Singers, died Thurday at her Chicago home, her sister, Mavis Staples, said.

A specific cause was not disclosed but Staples had been diagnosed with Alzheimers disease more than 10 years ago.

The group organized in the 1940s by her father, Roebuck "Pops" Staples, consisted of five siblings, of whom Cleotha was the eldest. The others, in addition to Mavis were Pervis, Yvonne and Cynthia.

Mavis Staples credited her father's guitar and Cleotha's voice as key elements in the distinctive sound of the group, which sold tens of millions of records with hits such as "I'll Take You There," "Respect Yourself" and "Uncloudy Day."

"A lot of singers would try to sing like her," Mavis Staples said in a statement. "Her voice would just ring in your ear. It was't harsh or hitting you hard, it was soothing. She gave us that country sound."