|Born||January 27, 1918|
Holmes County, Mississippi
|Died||May 24, 1963 (aged 45)|
|Instrument(s)||guitarist, singer, song writer and band leader|
Elmore James (January 27, 1918 – May 24, 1963) was an American blues guitarist, singer, song writer and band leader. Events 98 - Trajan becomes Roman Emperor after the death of Nerva. Year 1918 ( MCMXVIII) was a Common year starting on Tuesday (link will display the full calendar of the Gregorian calendar (or a Common Holmes County is a County located in the Mississippi Delta region of the U Events 1218 - The Fifth Crusade leaves Acre for Egypt. 1276 - Magnus Ladulås is crowned Year 1963 ( MCMLXIII) was a Common year starting on Tuesday (link will display full calendar of the Gregorian calendar. A music genre is a categorical and typological construct that identifies musical sounds as belonging to a particular category and type of music that can be distinguished from other The Blues is a vocal and instrumental form of Music based on the use of the Blue notes It emerged as an accessible form of self-expression A musical instrument is a device constructed or modified for the purpose of making Music. A guitarist is a Musician who plays the Guitar. Guitarists may perform solo pieces or play with ensembles and bands of a wide variety of genres A songwriter is someone who writes the Lyrics to songs the Musical composition (chords or Melody to songs or both A bandleader is the leader of a band of Musicians The term is most commonly though not exclusively used with a group that plays Popular music as Events 98 - Trajan becomes Roman Emperor after the death of Nerva. Year 1918 ( MCMXVIII) was a Common year starting on Tuesday (link will display the full calendar of the Gregorian calendar (or a Common Events 1218 - The Fifth Crusade leaves Acre for Egypt. 1276 - Magnus Ladulås is crowned Year 1963 ( MCMLXIII) was a Common year starting on Tuesday (link will display full calendar of the Gregorian calendar. The United States of America —commonly referred to as the The Blues is a vocal and instrumental form of Music based on the use of the Blue notes It emerged as an accessible form of self-expression A guitarist is a Musician who plays the Guitar. Guitarists may perform solo pieces or play with ensembles and bands of a wide variety of genres A songwriter is someone who writes the Lyrics to songs the Musical composition (chords or Melody to songs or both A bandleader is the leader of a band of Musicians The term is most commonly though not exclusively used with a group that plays Popular music as He was known as The King of the Slide Guitar and had a unique guitar style, noted for his use of loud amplification and his stirring voice. Slide guitar or bottleneck guitar is a particular method or technique for playing the Guitar.
James was born Elmore Brooks in the old Richland community in Holmes County, Mississippi, (not to be confused with two other locations of the same name in Mississippi, one in Humphreys County and the other in Rankin County). Holmes County is a County located in the Mississippi Delta region of the U Mississippi ( is a state located in the Deep South of the United States He was the illegitimate son of 15-year-old Leola Brooks, a field hand. His father was probably Joe Willie "Frost" James, who moved in with Leola, and so Elmore took this as his name. His parents adopted an orphaned boy, Robert Holston, at some point.
Elmore began making music at age 12 using a simple one-string instrument ('diddley bow' or 'jitterbug') strung up on a shack wall. As a teen he was playing at local dances under the names Cleanhead and Joe Willie James. His first marriage was to Minnie Mae in c. 1942 (whom he apparently never divorced). He subsequently married twice, to Georgianna Crump in 1947 and to a woman called Janice in c. 1954. (Another reported marriage of Elmore to a Josephine Harris has been found to be a mistaken record; a different Elmore James. )
Becoming a well-known musician in those days, with the not-so-minor rewards of prestige, free food, illicit free liquor, women's favours, the promise of escape from the hard plantation work, etc. , must have been as attractive to Elmore as it was to the other musicians of that time and earlier, such as the 'second' Sonny Boy Williamson, with whom he played and the legendary Robert Johnson with whom he also possibly played. Aleck "Rice" Miller ( December 5 1899 or March 11 1908 – May 25 1965) a Robert Leroy Johnson (May 8 1911 – August 16 1938 is among the most famous of Delta blues musicians Although Robert Johnson was murdered in 1938, James (like many other musicians) was strongly influenced by him, and also by Kokomo Arnold and Tampa Red. Kokomo Arnold ( 15 February 1901 — 8 November 1968) was an American Blues Musician. Tampa Red ( January 8 1904 - March 19 1981) born Hudson Woodbridge but known from childhood as Hudson Whittaker, was an influential Elmore recorded several of Tampa's songs, and even inherited from his band two of his famous 'Broomdusters', 'Little' Johnny Jones (piano) and Odie Payne (drums). "Little" Johnny Jones ( November 1, 1924 &ndash November 19, 1964) was a Chicago blues Harmonica player and There is a dispute as to whether Robert Johnson or Elmore wrote James's trademark song, "Dust My Broom". " Dust My Broom " is a Blues standard originally recorded as " I Believe I'll Dust My Broom "by Robert Johnson the Mississippi Delta 
An important side to Elmore's character which may have hastened his demise was his lifelong taste for, and manufacture of, moonshine whiskey, to which he was introduced at an early age. Production Uses Usually large scale distillation is practiced for the purpose of making ethanol for drinking, yet it may also practiced for creating Biofuel Alcohol killed his bandmates and friends Willie Love and Johnny Jones at an early age, and probably others too. His regular rhythm guitarist Homesick James maintained his longevity was due to his not partaking of the heavy drinking sessions after — and often during — gigs, a refusal that was unpopular with the rest of the band. Rhythm guitar is the use of a Guitar to provide Rhythmic chordal Accompaniment for a singer or other instruments in a Musical ensemble Homesick James ( 30 April, 1910 - 13 December 2006) was a black American Blues musician Elmore was also reportedly an extremely fast driver who also loved hunting with guns and dogs down in Mississippi, whence he would head off for protracted periods.
During World War II James joined the United States Navy, was promoted to coxswain and took part in the invasion of Guam against the Japanese. World War II, or the Second World War, (often abbreviated WWII) was a global military conflict which involved a majority of the world's nations, including The coxswain (ˈkɒksən is the person in charge of a Boat, particularly its navigation and steering Guam ( Chamorro: cha Guåhån) officially the Territory of Guam, is an island in the western Pacific Ocean and is an organized unincorporated Upon his discharge, Elmore returned to central Mississippi and eventually settled in Canton with his adopted brother Robert Holston, it was at this time he learned that he had a serious heart condition. Canton is a city in Madison County, Mississippi, United States. Working in Robert's electrical shop he devised his unique electric sound, using parts from the shop and an unusual placement of two D'Armond pick ups.  He began recording with Trumpet Records in nearby Jackson in January 1951, first as sideman to the second Sonny Boy Williamson and also to their mutual friend Wille Love and possibly others, then debuting as a session leader in August with "Dust My Broom". Trumpet Records was a recording company started by Henry and Lillian McMurry in Jackson Mississippi in 1951. " Dust My Broom " is a Blues standard originally recorded as " I Believe I'll Dust My Broom "by Robert Johnson the Mississippi Delta It was a surprise R&B hit in 1952 and turned James into a star. He then broke his contract with Trumpet Records to sign up with the Bihari Brothers through Ike Turner (who played guitar and piano on a couple of his early Bihari recordings). The Bihari Brothers, Lester Jules Saul and Joe were American music entrepreneurs and the founders of Modern Records in Los Angeles and its subsidiaries such as Ike Wister Turner ( November 5 1931 &ndash December 12 2007) was an American Musician, Bandleader, James' "I Believe" was another hit a year later. During the 1950s he recorded for the Bihari Brothers' Flair Records, Meteor Records and Modern Records labels, as well as for Chess Records and Mel London's Chief Records for whom "It Hurts Me Too" was a hit. Flair Records was a Record label owned by the Bihari brothers launched in the early fifties Meteor Records was a Record label started by the Bihari brothers, owners of Modern Records in Los Angeles, in 1952 in Memphis. Modern Records was an American Record label formed in 1945 in Los Angeles by the Bihari brothers — Jules, Saul Chess Records was an American Record label based in Chicago Illinois. Mel London (1932 - May 16 1975 born Melvin London was a producer songwriter and composer who was born in 1932 in Mississippi, and died in Chicago in 1975 at the early age His backing musicians were known as the Broomdusters. In 1959 he began recording what are perhaps his best sides for Bobby Robinson's Fire Records label. The year 1959 ( MCMLIX) was a Common year starting on Thursday (link will display full calendar of the Gregorian calendar. Bobby Robinson (b 16 April 1917 Union South Carolina) is a prominent African-American independent Record producer in New York, most active Fire Records was an Independent record label set up in 1959 by Bobby Robinson (record producer label owner. These include "The Sky Is Crying" (credited to Elmo James and His Broomdusters), "My Bleeding Heart", "Stranger Blues", "Look On Yonder Wall", "Done Somebody Wrong", and "Shake Your Moneymaker", all of which are among the most famous of blues recordings.
Elmore James died of his third heart attack in Chicago, Illinois in 1963, just prior to a tour of Europe with that year's American Folk Blues Festival. Myocardial infarction ( MI or AMI for acute myocardial infarction) also known as a heart attack, occurs when the blood supply Chicago (ʃɪˈkɑːgoʊ is the largest City by population in the state of Illinois and the American Midwest of the United States. The State of Illinois ( roughly ill-i-NOY is a state of the United States of America, the 21st to be admitted to the Union. Year 1963 ( MCMLXIII) was a Common year starting on Tuesday (link will display full calendar of the Gregorian calendar. He is buried in the Newport Baptist Church Cemetery, Ebenezer, Holmes County, Mississippi. His headstone was provided for by Phil Walden and Capricorn Records through a grant to the Mt. Zion Memorial Fund. Phil Walden ( January 11 1940 &ndash April 23, 2006) was co-founder of the Macon Georgia -based Capricorn Records with Capricorn Records is an independent Record label which was launched by Phil Walden, Alan Walden, and Frank Fenter in 1969 in The Mt Zion Memorial Fund is a Mississippi non-profit corporation formed in 1989 and named after the 108 year old Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church in Morgan City, Mississippi The bronze and granite memorial features a statuary likness of James playing the guitar. The memorial unveiling took place on December 10, 1992 with several members of the Mississippi State Legislature in attendance along with Dick Waterman, Phil Walden, musician Marshall Crenshaw, members of James' family, and many others. Dick Waterman (born July 14, 1935) is an American writer promoter and photographer who has been influential in the development and recording of Blues music Phil Walden ( January 11 1940 &ndash April 23, 2006) was co-founder of the Macon Georgia -based Capricorn Records with Marshall Crenshaw (born 11 November 1953 is an American singer songwriter and guitarist
James played a wide variety of "blues" (which often crossed over into other styles of music) similar to that of Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf and some of B. B. King's work, but distinguished by his guitars vastly more powerful sound (arguably only equalled in technical ability by BB, although in a different style) unbelievably coming from a modified, hollow body traditional acoustic guitar, which sounded like the more modern solid body guitars. For the album by Redman, see Muddy Waters (album. For the college football coach see Muddy Waters (football coach. Chester Burnett redirects here For the American football player see Chester Burnett (American football Chester Arthur Burnett ( June 10, 1910 B B King (born Riley B King, September 16 1925 is an American Blues Guitarist and Singer-songwriter. He most often played using a slide, but on several recordings he plays without. His voice and style was as instantly recognisable as BB's, Muddy's and Wolf's and until he fell foul of the Chicago union, he and his 'Broomdusters' were as popular in the Chicago clubs as any of these musicians bands. Elmore could be reportedly 'difficult' (ie drinking on the job, not paying out cash, abandoning musicians, double booking etc. ) Due to his early death, just before the 1960s "blues boom", and the silence of other famous blues performers, then current "music writers" only being interested in "The Stars" not caring to interview his ex-band members, immediate family, children, friends etc. little is known about him. There are no known photos of Elmore performing, apart from those taken (some at the following occasion, and some at a packed club with stylishly dressed couples dancing closely) by George Adins and no other detailed descriptions or any live recordings either.
Muddy Waters took the Belgian blues fan (George Adins) to see Elmore play in Chicago in 1959, Adins recalled,
"Elmore will always remain the most exciting, dramatic blues singer and guitarist that I've ever had a chance to see perform in the flesh. For the album by Redman, see Muddy Waters (album. For the college football coach see Muddy Waters (football coach. On our way we listened to him on the radio as Big Bill Hill . . . was broadcasting direct from that place. I was burning to see Elmore James and before we even pushed open the door of the club, we could hear Elmore's violent guitar sound. Although the place was overcrowded, we managed to find a seat close to the bandstand and the blues came falling down on me as it had never done before. Watching Elmore sing and play, backed by a solid blues band (Homesick James, J. T. Brown, Boyd Atkins and Sam Cassell) made me feel real fine. Wearing thick glasses, Elmore's face always had an expressive and dramatic look, especially when he was real gone on the slow blues. Singing with a strong and rough voice, he really didn't need a mike. On such slow blues as "I'm Worried - "Make My Dreams Come True" - "It Hurts Me", his voice reached a climax and created a tension that was unmistakably the down and out blues. Notwithstanding that raw voice, Elmore sang his blues with a particular feeling, an emotion and depth that showed his country background. His singing was. . . fed, reinforced by his own guitar accompaniment which was as rough, violent and expressive as was his voice. Using the bottleneck technique most of the time, Elmore really let his guitar sound as I had never heard a guitar sound before. You just couldn't sit still! You had to move. . . "
George also witnessed Elmore at 'Alex Club' in West Side Chicago where. . .
". . . he always played for a dance audience and he made the people jump. 'Bobby's Rock' was at that time one of the favourite numbers with the crowd and Elmore used to play [it] for fifteen minutes and more. You just couldn't stand that hysteric sound coming down on you. The place was rocking, swinging!"
The nearest we have to a recording of a 'live' set by Elmore is his last recorded session by Bobby Robinson of Fire records & Enjoy records etc. , in New York City 1963 shortly before his death, aged only 45. This session features several takes of 'Hand In Hand' which is abandoned and Elmo then plays a 'live' set.
His best known song is the blues standard "Dust My Broom" (also known as "Dust My Blues"). The song gave its name to James's band, The Broomdusters. The song's opening slide guitar riff is one of the best-known sounds in all of blues. In Music, a riff is an Ostinato figure a repeated Chord progression, pattern refrain or melodic figure, often played by the Rhythm It is essentially the same riff that appears in the recording of the same song by Robert Johnson, but James played the riff with electric slide guitar. Robert Leroy Johnson (May 8 1911 – August 16 1938 is among the most famous of Delta blues musicians It was even transformed into a doo-wop chorus on Jesse Stone's "Down in the Alley", recorded by The Clovers and Elvis Presley. Doo-wop is a style of vocal-based Rhythm and blues music which developed in African-American communities in the 1940s and which achieved mainstream popularity both in the 1950s Jesse Stone (born Atchison Kansas, 16 November 1901 - died Altamonte Springs Florida, 1 April 1999) was an The Clovers are an American Rhythm & blues group History The group formed in 1946 at Armstrong High School in Washington D Stone transcribed the riff as: "Changety changety changety changety chang chang!"
Listen to this 8-second sample of the riff from Dust My Broom featured in this very different song, Elmore – like most other performers who have a hit tune – was pressured into using this as a "hit formula" in many of his subsequent songs, although his later big sellers bore no semblance to this:
"Dust My Broom"
Most electric slide guitar players will admit to the massive influence of James' style. Slide guitar or bottleneck guitar is a particular method or technique for playing the Guitar. He was also a major influence on successful blues guitarists as Homesick James (Elmore's older cousin who was a member of Elmore's band The Broomdusters since 1957 and featured on many of his recordings), John Littlejohn, Hound Dog Taylor, J.B. Hutto and many others. Homesick James ( 30 April, 1910 - 13 December 2006) was a black American Blues musician Theodore Roosevelt "Hound Dog" Taylor ( April 12 1915 - December 17 1975) was an American Blues Guitarist He also influenced many rock guitarists such as The Rolling Stones' Brian Jones and Fleetwood Mac's Jeremy Spencer. Lewis Brian Hopkin Jones (28 February 1942 – 3 July 1969 was a founding member and Guitarist of the English Rock group The Rolling Stones. Fleetwood Mac are a British / American Jeremy Spencer (born 4 July, 1948, in Hartlepool, County Durham) is a British musician best known as one of Fleetwood
Elmore James' songs "Done Somebody Wrong" and "One Way Out" were often covered by The Allman Brothers Band, who cited him as a major influence. " One Way Out " is a Blues song first recorded and released in the early-mid 1960s by Sonny Boy Williamson II and Elmore James, an R&B The Allman Brothers Band is a Southern rock band based in Macon, Georgia. James was also covered by blues-rock band Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble many times in concert. In Popular music, a cover version, or simply cover, is a new rendition ( Performance or Recording) of a previously recorded commercially released Stephen "Stevie" Ray Vaughan ( October 3, 1954 August 27, 1990) was an American Blues-rock Guitarist The most famous of these covers is one that came by an indirect route: James' fellow bluesman Albert King recorded a cover of "The Sky Is Crying", and Stevie Ray Vaughan copied King's version of the song. Albert King ( April 25 1923 &ndash December 21 1992) was an American Blues Guitarist and Singer That song was also covered by George Thorogood on his second album, Move It On Over and by Eric Clapton on his album There's One in Every Crowd. George Thorogood (born February 24, 1950) is a Blues-rock performer from Wilmington Delaware. Move It on Over is the second album by George Thorogood & The Destroyers released by Rounder Records in 1978 Eric Patrick Clapton, CBE (born 30 March 1945 is an English Blues-rock Guitarist, singer Songwriter and Composer There's One in Every Crowd is a 1975 album by Blues rocker Eric Clapton.
Perhaps the most famous guitarist who admired Elmore James was Jimi Hendrix. James Marshall Hendrix (born Johnny Allen Hendrix) (November 27 1942 – September 18 1970 was an American Guitarist, Singer and Songwriter Early in Hendrix's career, he styled himself variously as 'Maurice James' and subsequently as 'Jimmy James'. This, according to former band mate and recording partner Lonnie Youngblood, was a tribute to Elmore James.  There is a photo of Hendrix (that can be seen in the sleeve of his :blues album) in London wearing a military jacket and holding Elmore James's UK LP The Best Of Elmore James. Blues is a posthumous Compilation album by musician Jimi Hendrix, released April 26, 1994 on MCA Records (Hendrix was frequently photographed throughout his performing career holding LP covers of musicians that influenced him. ) He performed James' "Bleeding Heart" during the Experience's Royal Albert Hall concert in 1969, and also with the Band of Gypsys at their New Year's concerts at the Fillmore East in 1969/70 as well as recording two different versions of it in the studio. The Royal Albert Hall is an Arts venue situated in the Knightsbridge area of the City of Westminster, London, England, best known Band of Gypsys is a Live album and a project by Jimi Hendrix, backed by Billy Cox and Buddy Miles, that followed Hendrix's Buddy Miles also sang lyrics along with Hendrix playing some motifs from James' "The Sky Is Crying" during his famous jam session at the Newport Pop Festival on June 22, 1969. George Allen Miles Jr ( September 5, 1947 &ndash February 26, 2008) known as Buddy Miles, was an American rock Hendrix quoted several lyrics and motifs from Elmore's catalogue throughout his career.
James is mentioned in The Beatles' song "For You Blue": while John Lennon plays the slide guitar (James' trademark), George Harrison says, "Elmore James got nothin' on this, baby. The Beatles were a pop and rock band from Liverpool, England formed in 1960 " For You Blue " is a Beatles song written by George Harrison for his wife Pattie Boyd, who would be the subject of many of his love songs including John Winston Ono Lennon, MBE (born George Harrison, MBE (25 February 1943 – 29 November 2001 was an English rock Guitarist Singer - Songwriter, Author " Other artists influenced by Elmore James include Frank Zappa and Jeffrey Evans of the band 68 Comeback. Frank Vincent Zappa (December 21 1940 – December 4 1993 was an American Composer, Electric guitarist Record producer and Film director 
The Grateful Dead, John Primer (Blue Steel CD), Billy Gibbons, and Eric Clapton are other notable artists to have recorded Elmore James covers. The Grateful Dead was an American rock band formed in 1965 in the San Francisco Bay Area. John Primer (born 3 March 1945, Camden, Minneapolis) is an American Blues Singer and Guitarist. William Frederick (Billy Gibbons (born December 16, 1949) Nicknamed the Reverend Willie G, is best known as the Guitarist for
Because of its strong association with Elmore James who was a familiar figure there, Canton, Mississippi was officially listed on the Mississippi Blues Trail by the Mississippi Blues Commission. Canton is a city in Madison County, Mississippi, United States. Mississippi ( is a state located in the Deep South of the United States The Mississippi Blues Trail, created by the Mississippi Blues Commission is a project to place interpretive markers at the most notable historical sites related to the growth of the James learned electronics by working in a radio repair shop on Hickory Street. A Mississippi Blues Trail historic marker was placed there to honor the great contribution of James to the development of the blues in Mississippi. 
In his dedication of Hickory Street, Governor Haley Barour said,
With his innovative contributions to the electric slide guitar style, legendary Elmore James is among the many reasons Mississippi is truly the birthplace of America’s music. Like so many others, Elmore’s work was greatly influenced by his childhood home in Canton, where he joined the ranks of musicians like B. B. King and Little Milton to play the blues on Hickory Street. Today’s blues trail marker not only recognizes the achievements of the talented Elmore James but also pays tribute to Canton’s colorful blues heritage. 
Elmore recorded in an era when very few 'Blues' artists recorded LPs. The only LP released (after he had left their management) in his lifetime (in 1961) was a budget compilation of old singles recorded by the Bihari Brothers (in common with Howlin' Wolf & BB King) — Blues After Hours (Crown 5168). This was re-released several times subsequent to his death.