Elmore James biography
Born: June 27, 1910, Richland, Mississippi
Died: May 24, 1963, Chicago, Illinois
Elmore James was a master of slide guitar, and has influenced just about everyone who has ever picked up a slide. His powerful vocals would naturally and dramatically crack and catch, giving authenticity to his sound. His on-and-off day job as a radio repairman complemented his art — he experimented with sound distortion decades before it became a staple of modern rock. James began performing at the age of 14, and played with Robert Johnson, Howlin’ Wolf, Sonny Boy Williamson and others. His style as a vocalist and guitarist were heavily influenced by Robert Johnson, and his reworking of Johnson’s original “(I Believe I’ll) Dust My Broom” became a signature hit for him (under the shortened title “Dust My Broom”). Like his contemporary Muddy Waters, James brought his version of Delta blues to Chicago, where his amazing band, the Broomdusters, added to the city’s superb music scene. James has influenced blues and rock and roll musicians, from B.B. King and Eric Clapton to Johnny Winter and Duane Allman, as well as many others.
Essential listening: “Dust My Broom,” “The Sky is Crying,” “Hand in Hand,” “Shake Your Money Maker”