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Elmore James

Elmore James (January 27, 1918 - May 24, 1963) was an American blues singer and guitarist. He was born in Canton, Mississippi and began playing as a teen under the names Cleanhead and Joe Willie James.

At this time, he played with traveling musicians like Sonny Boy Williamson[?], Howlin' Wolf and Robert Johnson. During World War 2, James joined the Navy and was stationed in Guam.

Upon his release, he began recording with Trumpet Records[?], starting with his characteristic song, "Dust My Broom". It was a surprise hit and turned James into a star.

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!"

James then released a series of singles with his Broomdusters for The Bihari Brothers[?]' various labels. This was followed by numerous label shifts in the 1950s, and several singles (such as "The Sky Is Crying"). Despite his identification with gutbucket blues, James was a sophisticated, jazzy guitar player who also worked as a studio musician for Atlantic records[?] and other labels.

He died in 1963 of a heart attack.



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