Vinson was born in Holly Springs, Mississippi. He taught himself how to play the piano as a child. In his teenage years, Vinson started playing his own style of barrelhouse boogie-woogie in local juke joints in Mississippi and Tennessee, incorporating both blues and jazz in his repertoire. In 1932, following a chance meeting with Sunnyland Slim, Vinson relocated from Mississippi to Memphis, Tennessee.
In the 1930s and 1940s, Vinson continued to play at local juke house and rural community parties. By the early 1950s, Vinson found employment as a custodian at the Taylor Boarding Home, where artists often stayed whilst recording next door at Sun Records studios. In the studios, Sam Phillips occasionally requested that Vinson accompany musicians. These included James Cotton on “Cotton Crop Blues” (1954), and Jimmy DeBerry on the latter’s “Take a Little Chance”. Phillips also allowed Vinson to record some tracks of his own, although these were not released until the 1980s. Vinson recorded two versions of “Forty-Four”, one retitled “Worry You Off My Mind”, and the other as “My Love Has Gone” (also known as “Come See Me”). Session musicians on these recordings included Walter Horton, Joe Hill Louis and Joe Willie Wilkins.
After a period of lesser musical activity, by the early 1980s, the Center for Southern Folklore had enlisted Vinson to perform at various cultural events, and at local schools. He became a regular at the Center, where he played and taught for twenty years. In 1990, his contribution towards the album, Memphis Piano Blues Today, was recorded at his home.
In 1997, his first full-length CD compilation album was released via the Center. Declining health, however, stopped him playing not long before his death.
Mose Vinson died of diabetes, on November 16, 2002 in Memphis, at the age of 85.
In 2007, the Memphis Music and Heritage Festival was dedicated to his memory.