Elmore James was one of the giants of the blues. To understand just how influential he was, read his Wikipedia entry. Every great blues guitar player has studied James closely. Less well know is that James was one of the great blues songwriters, with three of the greatest blues tunes of all times to his credit. His greatest was, in my opinion, The Sky is Crying.
I studied James’ style very closely when I was in college. I bought many of his LPs more than once, because I wore them out on my turntable. His slide guitar style influenced every guitarist who every bought a bottle neck slide, including Muddy Waters and Hound Dog Taylor.
I love everything about Elmore James’ style, from his adaptation of church hymn vocal stylings to the incredible pastoral story telling style of his songwriting. Here’s another fantastic James’ tune, It Hurts Me Too. This is the first song I ever played for my late wife, Myrna. She, too, fell in love with the tune.
Everybody has covered an Elmore James' tune, from The Allman Brothers to Stevie Ray Vaughan to Eric Clapton. James' influence cannot be overestimated.
If James had only written The Sky is Crying and It Hurts Me Too, he would have secured legendary status as a songwriter. He also wrote the legendary rocker, Shake Your Money Maker, also covered by every serious blues musician.
Elmore James was, truly, a giant figure in the history of the blues. If you don’t know his music and his legacy, go listen to him now. He was fantastic. Unfortunately, he was a little before my time in the Chicago blues scene. I wish I could say that I caught his live show, but I can’t. What a pity!