A report on Elmore James

American blues guitarist, singer, songwriter, and bandleader.

- Elmore James

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A musician playing slide guitar style. The slide is on his left ring finger. He is playing a National-type metal-body resonator guitar using fingerpicks on his right hand.

Slide guitar

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Technique for playing the guitar that is often used in blues music.

Technique for playing the guitar that is often used in blues music.

A musician playing slide guitar style. The slide is on his left ring finger. He is playing a National-type metal-body resonator guitar using fingerpicks on his right hand.
Ry Cooder using a glass slide in 2009
Wooden resonator guitar played with a steel, angled to form a chord unavailable from straight open tuning.

Since the 1930s, performers including Robert Nighthawk, Earl Hooker, Elmore James, and Muddy Waters popularized slide guitar in electric blues and influenced later slide guitarists in rock music, including the Rolling Stones, Duane Allman, and Ry Cooder.

American blues singer Ma Rainey (1886–1939), the "Mother of the Blues"

Blues

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Music genre and musical form which originated in the Deep South of the United States around the 1860s by African-Americans from roots in African-American work songs and spirituals.

Music genre and musical form which originated in the Deep South of the United States around the 1860s by African-Americans from roots in African-American work songs and spirituals.

American blues singer Ma Rainey (1886–1939), the "Mother of the Blues"
A minor pentatonic scale;
Musicologist John Lomax (left) shaking hands with musician "Uncle" Rich Brown in Sumterville, Alabama
Sheet music from "Saint Louis Blues" (1914)
Bessie Smith, an early blues singer, known for her powerful voice
A typical boogie-woogie bass line
John Lee Hooker
Blues legend B.B. King with his guitar, "Lucille"
Texas blues guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughan, 1983
Italian singer Zucchero is credited as the "Father of Italian Blues", and is among the few European blues artists who still enjoy international success.
Eric Clapton performing at Hyde Park, London, in June 2008
Duke Ellington straddled the big band and bebop genres. Ellington extensively used the blues form.
The music of Taj Mahal for the 1972 movie Sounder marked a revival of interest in acoustic blues.

The saxophonist J. T. Brown played in bands led by Elmore James and by J. B. Lenoir, but the saxophone was used as a backing instrument for rhythmic support more than as a lead instrument.

Original 78 record label

Dust My Broom

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Blues song originally recorded as "I Believe I'll Dust My Broom" by American blues artist Robert Johnson in 1936.

Blues song originally recorded as "I Believe I'll Dust My Broom" by American blues artist Robert Johnson in 1936.

Original 78 record label
Original 78 record label

In 1951, Elmore James recorded the song as "Dust My Broom" and "made it the classic as we know it", according to blues historian Gerard Herzhaft.

Sonny Boy Williamson II

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American blues harmonica player, singer and songwriter.

American blues harmonica player, singer and songwriter.

He first recorded with Elmore James on "Dust My Broom".

Studio portrait c. undefined 1936, one of only three verified photographs of Johnson

Robert Johnson

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American blues musician and songwriter.

American blues musician and songwriter.

Studio portrait c. undefined 1936, one of only three verified photographs of Johnson
Alleged gravesite at Payne Chapel near Quito, with one of Johnson's three tombstones
The crossroads at Clarksdale, Mississippi

Fellow Mississippi native Elmore James is the best known and is responsible for popularizing Johnson's "Dust My Broom".

Tampa Red

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American Chicago blues musician.

American Chicago blues musician.

His songwriting and his bottleneck technique influenced other leading Chicago blues guitarists, such as Big Bill Broonzy, Robert Nighthawk and Muddy Waters, and many others, including Elmore James and Mose Allison.

The Sky Is Crying (song)

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"The Sky Is Crying" is a blues standard written and initially recorded by Elmore James in 1959.

Trumpet was the first label to record Sonny Boy Williamson.

Trumpet Records

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American record company founded by Lillian McMurry in Jackson, Mississippi in 1951.

American record company founded by Lillian McMurry in Jackson, Mississippi in 1951.

Trumpet was the first label to record Sonny Boy Williamson.

Elmore James recorded his original "Dust My Broom" here, and the label was the first to record Sonny Boy Williamson II.

Robinson in front of his record store, 1977.

Bobby Robinson (record producer)

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American independent record producer and songwriter in New York City, most active from the 1950s through the mid-1980s.

American independent record producer and songwriter in New York City, most active from the 1950s through the mid-1980s.

Robinson in front of his record store, 1977.

Robinson produced hits by Wilbert Harrison, The Shirelles, Dave "Baby" Cortez, Elmore James, Lee Dorsey, Gladys Knight & The Pips, King Curtis, Spoonie Gee, Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five, Doug E. Fresh, and Treacherous Three.

Ike Turner performing in 1972

Ike Turner

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American musician, bandleader, songwriter, record producer, and talent scout.

American musician, bandleader, songwriter, record producer, and talent scout.

Ike Turner performing in 1972
Ike Turner's birthplace and childhood home at 304 Washington Avenue in the Riverton neighborhood of Clarksdale, Mississippi.
Sun Studio at 706 Union Avenue in Memphis, Tennessee, where in 1951 Turner and the Kings of Rhythm recorded Rocket 88, one of the first rock and roll records. Turner would later work at the studio as in-house producer for Sam Phillips.
Ike & Tina Turner performing in Hamburg, Germany in 1972
Ike & Tina Turner arriving at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol in 1971
Ike Turner performing at the Long Beach Blues Festival in 1997

He played juke joints alongside other local blues artists such as Elmore James, Muddy Waters, and Little Walter.