Elmore James

Elmore James is widely regarded as one of the finest bluesmen to emerge in the postwar period in the USA. He was born in Mississippi and as a teenager played local dance halls and music venues under a variety of names including Cleanhead and Joe Willie James. During World War II, he signed up to the US navy where he distinguished himself and was promoted to coxwain taking part in the invasion of Guam. After being discharged from military service he settled back in Mississippi in Canton, Madison County and began working at his adopted brother's electrical shop. During this time he perfected his guitar technique and developed his trademark sound using equipment sourced through the shop, in particular two detachable DeArmond pickups James fitted to a modified hollow body guitar. The distinctive sound he achieved defined James's style and he went on to become known as the 'king of the slide guitar'. His best known song is the blues classic 'Dust My Broom' and although it is often credited to James the song was actually a re-make of an earlier Robert Johnson track called 'I Believe I'll Dust My Broom'. It went on to become the most successful recording of James's career. For much of his adult life James was aware he had a serious heart problem and eventually he died of a heart attack in Chicago in 1963 at the age of 45.

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