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Elmore James

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Elmore James album cover

Elmore James (January 27, 1918May 24, 1963) was an American blues singer and guitarist. He was known as "The King of the Slide Guitar".

James was born Elmore Brooks in Richland, Mississippi, 50 miles north of Jackson (not to be confused with another Richland just south of Jackson). He began playing as a teen, under the names Cleanhead and Joe Willie James, alongside musicians like Sonny Boy Williamson, Howlin' Wolf, and Robert Johnson. During World War II James joined the Navy and was stationed in Guam.

Upon his discharge Elmore returned to central Mississippi and eventually settled in Canton. He began recording with Trumpet Records in nearby Jackson in January 1951, first as sideman to Alec "Sonny Boy Williamson [II]" Miller and others, then debuting as a session leader in August with what became his signature song, "Dust My Broom." It was a surprise R&B hit in 1952 and turned James into a star. His "I Believe" was another hit a year later. During the 1950s he recorded for the Bihari Brothers' Flair and Modern labels, as well as for Chess Records. His backing musicians were known as the Broomdusters. In 1959 he began recording what are perhaps his best sides for Bobby Robinson's Fire label. These include "The Sky Is Crying" (credited to Elmo James and His Broomdusters), "Stranger Blues," "Look On Yonder Wall," "Done Somebody Wrong," and "Shake Your Moneymaker," all of which are among the most famous of blues recordings.

The slide guitar riff from "Dust My Broom" is one of the best-known openings in all of blues. It was even transformed into a doo-wop chorus on Jesse Stone's "Down in the Alley," recorded by the Clovers and Elvis Presley. Stone transcribed the riff as:

"Changety changety changety changety chang chang!" [sample]

He died of his third heart attack in Chicago in 1963, already a major influence on guitarists such as the Rolling Stones' Brian Jones. His classic "Done Somebody Wrong" was often covered by the Allman Brothers Band, who cited James as a major influence.fr:Elmore James de:Elmore James

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