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American Blues, Guitarist, Singer and Songwriter. Elmore James. Elmore James was known as ‘’the king of the slide guitar’’, he has a unique guitar style, and was particularly noted for his use of loud amplification and of his stirring voice. Elmore.

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Elmore James was known as ‘’the king of the slide guitar’’, he has a unique guitar style, and was particularly noted for his use of loud amplification and of his stirring voice.

elmore james january 27 1918 may 24 1963

James was born named Elmore Brooks in Holmes County, Mississippi.

He was the son of Leola Brooks, a field hand and Joe Willie James who moved in with Leola after he was born, which is why he took the name James, after his father.

His parents also adopted an orphaned boy called Robert Holston soon after he was born who James became close with.

Elmore james. January 27, 1918 – May 24, 1963
elmore s love for music
ELMORE’S love for music
  • Elmore began making music at the early age of 12
  • As a teenager, Elmore became very popular locally and was playing at local dances and events.
  • He didn’t play under the name of Elmore James, it was Clean head or Joe Willie James like his father.
  • In those days and especially in Mississippi, being a well known musician came a lot of rewards for Elmore:
  • Free food
  • Free alcohol
  • Woman’s favours
  • The escape from the hard agricultural work and slavery
facts facts


  • Elmore married three times, his first wife was Minnie Mae in 1942 who he apparently never divorced, his second was Georgianna Crump in 1947 and then he married Janice Circa in 1954.
  • During world war 2 James joined the US Navy and took part in the invasion of Guam against the Japanese
  • When he came back he settled in Canton with his adopted brother Robert Holson
  • He worked in Roberts electrical shop and this is where he devised his unique electric sound on the guitar
  • It was also at this time he learned he had a serious heart condition
facts facts1


  • He began recording with ‘Trumpet Records’ in nearby Jackson in January 1951
  • First as a sideman to the second Sonny Boy Williamson, then to their mutual friend Willie Love and others too.
  • Then debuting as a session leader in August with the famous ‘’Dust my broom’’ .It was a surprise R and B hit in 1952 and turned James into a star.
  • During the 1950’s he recorded for the Bihari Brothers, Flair Records as well as for Chess Records and Mel London’s Chief Records
  • This is when all of his music turned into massive hits, such as ‘i believe’, ‘The sky is Crying, ‘My Bleeding heart’, ‘Stranger Blues’ all of which are among the most famous blues recordings.
  • James Died of his third heart attack in Chicago in 1963 prior to a tour of Europe with the years American Folk Blues Festival, he was then buried in Newport in Mississippi
the music
All about the music

All about the music

  • James played a variety of blues similar to Muddy Waters and BB King, but he was distinguished by his guitar.
  • Elmore will always remain the most exciting, dramatic blues singer and guitarist born
The music.....
dust my broom
Elmore’s most well know song is ‘’DUST MY BROOM’’

Elmore was very much influenced by Robert Johnson’s music, the king of Blues . There is a dispute as to whether Robert or Elmore wrote the trademark song ‘’dust my broom’’.

No Matter who it was, Elmore’s style and cover of this song was extremely popular. Here it is for you to hear.

This shows his unique guitar style and soulful voice.

There has been at least 5 artists that have covered this song as well after it was released.

the sky is crying
I am now going to play you ‘ The Sky is Crying’, which was written and recorded by Elmore in 1959

After listening to a lot of his songs a few times i began to really take to this particular song. The lyrics are very repetitive like most Blues songs It is a slow tempo twelve bar blues song, notated in 12/8 time in the key of C. It really shows off his talent for playing the guitar and of course that unique sound that he can produce.

It was one of his most popular songs and was know as one of his most ‘durable compositions’.

Eric Clapton also recorded this in 1964

his voice
Elmore is more know for playing the guitar and that amazing sound that he can produce but his voice was also very inspiring too.

Singing with a strong and rough voice, Elmore did not need a microphone.

In most of his recordings his voice reached a climax and created such a tension that it was unmistakably the down and out blues.

He has a raw voice, and sang his blues with a particular feeling, an emotion and depth that showed his country backgroundand how he felt.

Of course he was brought up at the time of slavery in Mississippi and his emotions showed this in his music, he was nostalgic.

His singing was reinforced by his own guitar accompaniment which was as rough, violent and expressive like his voice.

Together created the overall remarkable blues feeling in all of his recordings…

His voice…

In general, it is quite hard to find a lot of information about Elmore James but it

Is safe to say that Elmore is the most influential slide guitarist of that period of time.

His Wake was attended by over 400 blues luminaries which shows how popular he

Was and his music.

He was elected to the Blues Foundations Hall of Fame in 1980 and was later elected

To the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame too.

He may not have lived to reap the rewards

of the blues revival, but his music and

Influence continues to inspiretoday....