Eddie James (Son) House Jr. was born in 1902 in a little town called Riverton, Mississippi, two miles from the famed blues capitol of Clarksdale, Mississippi.
1n 1926 House started playing guitar under the tutelage of a local musician named James McCoy. He developed quickly as a guitarist and within twelve months he had fallen in with Delta musician Rube Lacy and began emulating his slide guitar style. House shot and killed a man in 1928 and he was in return, sentenced to work on Parchment Farm, but was released within two years after a judged re-examined the case. The judge advised him to leave the Clarksdale vicinity and so he relocated to Lula, where he met legendary bluesman Charley Patton.
Patton befriended House and in 1930, Patton brought him, pianist Louise Johnson and guitarist Willie Brown to Wisconsin for a recording session with Paramount Records. House continued playing with Willie Brown through the 1930’s and developed a friendship with Robert Johnson after moving to Robinsville, Mississippi.
House, along with Leroy Williams, Fiddlin’ Joe Martin and Willie Brown, were recorded by the now legendary folklorist Alan Lomax in 1941 for the Library of Congress. Lomax returned the next year to record House in Robinsville, but House did not make another commercial record until the mid-1960’s, when he was “re-discovered” by by Nick Perls, Dick Waterman and Phil Spero.
He subsequently toured extensively in the US and Europe, including performing at the Newport Folk Festival, the New York Folk Festival, and touring Europe with the the Montreux Festival and the American Folk Festival, the latter including such artists as Skip James and Bukka White.
Ill health plagued his later years and in 1974 he retired for the last time, living in Detroit, Michigan until his death from cancer of the larynx in 1989.
Son House was an amazing guitar player who mastered the art of slide guitar and sang with a passion that can not be anything less than sincere, often reminiscent of the hollers of the chain gangs. House is nothing less than a Delta Blues legend, and if you listen to Muddy Waters, Robert Johnson, and many others, you can hear Son’s influence come through.
Two Son House videos below.
John the Revelator.
Forever My Mind.