James Head

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SIMS, FRANKIE LEE (1917–1970). Frankie Lee Sims, blues singer and guitarist, was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, on April 30, 1917. He was one of thirteen children of Henry and Virginia (Summuel) Sims. Sims was a first cousin to Lightnin' Hopkins and is said also to have been Texas Alexander's cousin.

He was a prominent member of the "Texas country blues movement" of the 1940s and 1950s. When he was a child his family moved to Marshall, Texas. Both of his parents were guitarists, and Frankie taught himself to play the instrument when he was only twelve. He ran away from home around 1929 to play for parties, dances, and other gigs in the Crockett–Centerville area. In the mid-1930s he attended Wiley College in Marshall. After college, he taught elementary school in Palestine, Texas. Sims served with the United States Marines from 1942 to 1945. After the war he settled in the Dallas area, where he frequently worked with T-Bone Walker, Smokey Hogg, and others from the late 1940s well into the 1950s. He made his first recording in 1948 for Herb Rippa's Dallas-based Blue Bonnet Records.

Sims did not have much commercial success, however, until 1953, when he cut "Lucy Mae Blues," his only real hit. He continued to record extensively during the 1950s, primarily for Specialty Records, and later for Johnny Vincent's Ace and Vin labels. He displayed his rocking style on numerous cuts including "Walking with Frankie" and "She Likes to Boogie Real Low." He worked local venues in Dallas throughout the 1960s.

Unfortunately, due to numerous personal problems, he was not able to cash in on the 1960s blues revival. Sims died of pneumonia on May 10, 1970, in Dallas and was buried at Lincoln Memorial Cemetery, Dallas. He was married and left one son, Little Frankie Lee, also a musician.


Lawrence Cohn, Nothing But the Blues: The Music and the Musicians (New York: Abbeville Press, 1993). Michael Erlewine, et al., eds., AMG All Music Guide to the Blues: The Experts' Guide to the Best Blues Recordings (San Francisco: Miller Freeman, 1999). Sheldon Harris, Blues Who's Who: A Biographical Dictionary of Blues Singers (New Rochelle, New York: Arlington House, 1979). Colin Larkin, ed., Encyclopedia of Popular Music (New York: Muze, 1998). Robert Santelli, Big Book of the Blues: A Biographical Encyclopedia (New York: Penguin Books, 1993).

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The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, James Head, "SIMS, FRANKIE LEE," accessed February 18, 2020,

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Modified on October 22, 2015. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
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