Open main menu

Skip James

American Delta blues singer, guitarist, pianist and songwriter

Nehemiah Curtis "Skip" James (June 21, 1902October 3, 1969) was an American Delta blues singer, guitarist, pianist and songwriter.

Skip James
Birth nameNehemiah Curtis James
BornJune 21, 1902
Bentonia, Mississippi, USA
DiedOctober 3, 1969(1969-10-03) (aged 67)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
GenresDelta blues
OccupationsMusician, Songwriter
InstrumentsVocals, Guitar, Piano
Years active1931
1964 - 1969
LabelsParamount, Vanguard, Biograph, Adelphi, Document, Snapper Music Group, Universe, Body & Soul, Yazoo, Genes

BiographyEdit

Early yearsEdit

James was born near Bentonia, Mississippi. He worked on road construction in the early 1920s, and wrote what his earliest song, "Illinois Blues", about his experience as a worker. He began playing guitar in open D-minor tuning with three fingers.

1920s and '30sEdit

Skip James traveled to Grafton, Wisconsin to record for Paramount. James recorded blues and spirituals and cover versions of other songs.

The Great Depression happened just as James' records were put on the market. Not many people bought them because of this and James had to give up Blues music and worked in a church with his father.

After the depressionEdit

For the next thirty years, James did not record any songs. In July 1964, James started playing again and he recorded for the Takoma, Melodeon, and Vanguard labels and played until his death in 1969.

DiscographyEdit

Paramount 78s: 1931

  • Complete 1931 Session Yazoo, 1986
  • Complete Recorded Works (1931) Document, 1990
  • The Complete Early Recordings of Skip James - 1930 Yazoo, 1994
  • Cypress Grove Blues Snapper Music Group, 2004
  • Illinois Blues Universe, 2004
  • The Complete 1931 Recordings Body & Soul, 2005
  • Hard Time Killin' Floor Yazoo, 2005

After the depression: 1964-1969

  • Greatest of the Delta Blues Singers Biograph, 1964
  • She Lyin Adelphi, 1964 (first released: Genes, 1996)
  • Skip James Today! Vanguard, 1965
  • Devil Got My Woman Vanguard, 1968
  • I'm So Glad Vanguard, 1978
  • Live: Boston, 1964 & Philadelphia, 1966 Document, 1994
  • Skip's Piano Blues, 1964 (Genes, 1998)
  • Blues From the Delta Vanguard, 1998 (two unreleased recordings)
  • The Complete Bloomington, Indiana Concert - March 30, 1968 Document, 1999
  • Skip's Guitar Blues, 1964(?) (Genes, 1999)
  • Studio Sessions: Rare and Unreleased, 1967 (Vanguard, 2003)
  • Hard Time Killing Floor Blues Biograph, 2003
  • Heroes of the Blues: The Very Best of Skip James Shout!, 2003
  • Hard Time Universe, 2003

Other websitesEdit