Elmore James

Elmore James (January 27, 1918 – May 24, 1963) was an American blues guitarist, singer, songwriter, and band leader. He was known as King of the Slide Guitar but he was also noted for his use of loud amplification and his stirring voice.

The most famous guitarist who admired James was Jimi Hendrix. Early in his career Hendrix styled himself variously as ‘Maurice James’ and subsequently as ‘Jimmy James.’ This, according to former bandmate and recording partner Lonnie Youngblood, was a tribute to Elmore James. There is a photo of Hendrix (that can be seen in the sleeve of his Blues album) in London wearing his iconic military jacket and holding Elmore James’s UK LP The Best Of Elmore James. (Hendrix was frequently photographed throughout his performing career holding LP covers of musicians that influenced him.) He performed James’ “Bleeding Heart” during the Experience’s Royal Albert Hall concert in 1969, and also with the Band of Gypsys at their New Year’s concerts at the Fillmore East in 1969/70 as well as recording two different versions of it in the studio.

James is mentioned in The Beatles’ song “For You Blue”: while John Lennon plays the slide guitar (James’ trademark), George Harrison says, “Elmore James got nothin’ on this, baby.” Other artists influenced by Elmore James include Frank Zappa.