James W. “Red” Holloway, born on May 31, 1927, in Helena, Arkansas, was an American jazz saxophonist who played tenor and alto saxophones. He is best known for his soulful, blues-inflected playing style and his extensive work as a sideman with some of the biggest names in jazz and blues music.
Growing up in Chicago, Holloway was exposed to music at an early age, thanks to his mother, who was a pianist for a local church. He began playing the piano at the age of five, and later, he picked up the saxophone when he was 12. Holloway’s talent for music was evident, and he studied at the prestigious Chicago Conservatory of Music before joining the United States Army in 1944. During his time in the military, he played in the 11th Airborne Division Band.
After leaving the Army, Holloway returned to Chicago and immersed himself in the city’s thriving jazz and blues scene. He played with local legends such as Billie Holiday, Muddy Waters, and Chuck Berry. In the late 1950s, he joined organist “Brother” Jack McDuff’s band, where he gained widespread recognition for his powerful and soulful playing style.
Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, Holloway worked with numerous notable artists, including George Benson, Etta James, and B.B. King. His versatility and unique approach to the saxophone earned him a reputation as a highly sought-after sideman. In addition to his work as a sideman, Holloway also pursued a successful solo career, releasing albums such as “Red Soul” and “The Burner.”
In the later years of his career, Holloway continued to tour and record with various artists, including collaborations with organist Joey DeFrancesco and guitarist Melvin Sparks. He also served as a mentor and inspiration to younger generations of musicians, sharing his passion for jazz and blues with the world.
Red Holloway passed away on February 25, 2012, at the age of 84, but his contributions to jazz and blues music live on. His soulful, blues-infused playing style and extensive body of work as a sideman and solo artist have left a lasting impact on the world of music and continue to inspire musicians and fans alike.
Page last updated 3/19/2023.