Son House

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Biography

Eddie James "Son" House, Jr. was born in Riverton, Mississippi, 21 March 1902, about two miles from the home of the Delta Blues, Clarksdale, the second of three brothers. When he was around seven or eight years old, his parents seperated, and his mother brought the boys south to Tallulah, Louisiana. At the age of fifteen Son House was to be found preaching sermons and was soon to become a young Baptist preacher. A self taught guitarist, Son House didn't take up the guitar until 1927 or 1928 after he was inspired by the slide guitar work of Willie Wilson. Son served time in Parchman State Farm, in Parchman, MS c1928-9. The "devil's music" was preached against by the Baptist Church, so it must have been difficult for Son to break away from his ministry to join up with the local bluesmen such as Willie Brown and Charlie Patton. He played with them or solo at jukes, parties, and plantations around the Robinsonville area of Mississippi north to Memphis through 1942. In 1943 he moved to Rochester, N.Y. to work for the New York Central Railroad. He worked outside of music for sixteen years from 1948 to 1964.

Son House recorded both for Paramount and the Library of Congress in the '30s and '40s, mainly for field recording units. Son's first recording session for Paramount in 1930 produced masterpieces considered to be at the summit of country blues recordings.

During the "rediscovery" period of blues in the early/mid 1960's he could be found playing the folk and blues festivals, working Washington, Philadelphia, and Newport amongst others. From this period on he started recording and touring again. Covering the Montreux Jazz Festival, and extensive recording in England (with Stephan Grossman), working college and club dates.

From the early 70's onwards, Son was plagued by ill health, playing infrequently and living outside the music genre he mastered and made his own. Despite all this, he still managed five wives before his death. He died in Detroit, Michigan on 19 October 1988 of cancer of the larynx.

The influence of Son House was felt by Robert Johnson and Muddy Waters, both greatly influential in their own right.


Discography

Son House : Selected Discography

BIOGRAPH CD 118 :
Son House - Delta Blues (1941-1942)
BIOGRAPH 12040 :
Son House - & Blind Lemon Jefferson (1926-1941)
BLUE GOOSE 2016 :
Son House - The Real Delta Blues (1964-65 recordings)
COLUMBIA 2417 :
Son House - Father of The Delta Blues
DOCUMENT CD 5002 :
Son House - & The Great Delta Blues Singers (w/Brown,)
DOCUMENT 5148 :
Son House - At Home : Complete 1969
FOLK LYRIC 9002 :
Son House (Library of Congress)
FOLKWAYS 2467 :
Son House - Blues from the Mississippi Delta (w/Short)
LIBERTY 83391 :
Son House - John The Revelator
OPTIMISM CD 2070 :
Various - American Folk Blues Festival '67 (1 cut)
PRIVATE RECORD PR-01 :
Son House - 1965-1969 (mostly TV appearances)
SMITHSONIAN 31028 :
Son House - Delta Blues (1941-1942)
SONY/LEGACY CD 48867 :
Son House - Father of the Delta Blues : Complete 1965
STACK-O-HITS 9004 :
Son House - In Concert (Oberlin College, 1965)
TRAVELIN' MAN CD 02 :
Son House - The Complete Library of Congress Sessions
VERVE/FOLKWAYS 3010 :
Various - Living Legends (1 cut, 1966)
TAKOMA 7081 :
Various - Real Blues (1 cut, U of Chicago, 1964)
SEQUEL CD 207 :
Son House - John The Revelator - 1970 London Sessions
VANGUARD CD 77/78 :
Various - Great Bluesmen/Newport (2 cuts, 1965)
VANGUARD CD 77005 :
Various - Blues With A Feeling (3 cuts, 1965)
YAZOO VIDEO 500 :
Son House/Bukka White - Masters of the Country Blues

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Joel Snow
Created November 1, 1996
Revised February 15, 1997