James Burke "St. Louis Jimmy" Oden (June 26, 1903 -
December 30, 1977) was an American blues vocalist and songwriter.
Born in Nashville, Tennessee, Oden sang and taught himself to play the
piano in childhood. In his teens, he left home to go to St. Louis,
Missouri (c. 1917 ) where piano-based blues was prominent. He was able
to develop his vocal talents and began performing with the pianist,
Roosevelt Sykes. After more than ten years playing in and around St.
Louis, in 1933 he and Sykes decided to move on to Chicago.
In Chicago he was dubbed St. Louis Jimmy and there he would enjoy a
solid performing and recording career for the next four decades. While
Chicago became his home base, Oden traveled with a group of blues
players to various places throughout the United States. He recorded a
large number of records, his best known coming in 1941 on the Bluebird
Records label called "Goin' Down Slow." Oden wrote a number of songs,
two of which, "Take the Bitter with the Sweet" and "Soon Forgotten,"
were recorded by his friend, Muddy Waters.
In 1948 on Aristocrat Records Oden cut "Florida Hurricane", accompanied
by the pianist Sunnyland Slim and the guitarist
In 1949, Oden partnered with Joe Brown to form a small recording company
called J.O.B. Records. Oden appears to have ended his involvement within
a year, but with other partners the company remained in business till
After a serious road accident in 1957 he devoted himself to writing and
placed material with Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf ("What a Woman!") and
John Lee Hooker. In 1960 he made an album with Bluesville Records, and
sang on a Candid Records session with
Robert Lockwood, Jr. and
Oden died of bronchopneumonia, at the age of 74, in 1977 and was
interred in the Restvale Cemetery in Alsip, Illinois, near Chicago