Seals was born in Osceola, Arkansas, where his father, Jim “Son” Seals, owned a small juke joint. He began performing professionally by the age of 13, first as a drummer with Robert Nighthawk and later as a guitarist. At age 16, he began to play at the T-99, a local upper-echelon club, with his brother-in-law Walter “Little Walter” Jefferson. He played there with prominent blues musicians, including Albert King, Rufus Thomas, Bobby Bland, Junior Parker, and Rosco Gordon. Their varying styles contributed to the development of Seals’s own playing techniques. While playing at the T-99, he was also introduced to country–western music by Jimmy Grubbs, who occasionally asked Seals to play the drums or guitar with his group. At the age of 19, Seals formed his own band, Son Seals and the Upsetters, to fill in at the Rebel Club, in Osceola. The band members were Johnny Moore (“Old Man Horse”) on piano; Alvin Goodberry on drums, guitar, bass, or piano; Little Bob Robinson on vocals; and Walter Lee “Skinny Dynamo” Harris on piano. Shortly thereafter, a man from Little Rock, Arkansas, came to find “Little Walter” for a gig at his club, but when Walter turned it down the offer went to Seals.
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