Nathaniel "Guitar Slim" Savage was born March 2, 1935 in Greenville, Alabama, and began to teach himself guitar at the age of nine. He was inspired by songs like "Big Leg Woman", "Baby Please Don't Go", and "Good Morning Little School Girl", which he heard on a wind-up gramophone in his mother's house, and by his grandfather John Wesley Hunter who had a blues band in Detroit.
Nathaniel moved to Fort Lauderdale, Florida in 1951, and worked construction when he wasn't playing music. He moved to Cleveland in 1956, continued to work construction, and played guitar behind artists like Big Maybelle, Sonny Boy Williamson, and Little Milton.
Guitar Slim joined harmonica player Tommy O'Neal's band, then played with Charles Winston's band. When health problems forced Winston's retirement from the music business, Guitar Slim started his own band. In 1974, Guitar Slim and his band started playing the Cascade Lounge on Cleveland's east side, and have been a regular feature there ever since.
Their appearances there have been a beacon for musicians like Big Richard, Pete Schmidt, Crazy Marvin, and Robert Lockwood Jr., all of whom have dropped in to share the stage with one of Cleveland's blues legends. Guitar Slim's current lineup features Little James on drums, who, like Guitar Slim himself, has been playing since he was nine.
Nathaniel "Guitar Slim" Savage is blessed with eight daughters, one son (Nate Jr.), nineteen grandchildren, 12 great-grandchildren, and secure legacy in Cleveland blues history.