Posted by themusicsover on October 19, 2009
Eddie “Son” House
March 21, 1902 – October 19, 1988
Son House was a pioneering Delta blues musician who was an immediate influence on the likes of Robert Johnson and Muddy Waters. His innovative style of slide guitar playing and chain-gaing style of repetitive singing further influenced a slew of contemporary artists as well. His songs have been covered by the White Stripes, John Mellencamp, and Gov’t Mule. Born outside of Clarksdale, Mississippi, House’s early teens were filled with gospel music while he was a practicing Baptist minister. He soon became intrigued by the blues and taught himself to play the guitar in his early 20s. He set his sights on music as a career and started playing with the likes of Charley Patton and Robert Johnson from Clarksdale to Memphis. In 1928, House served about one year of a 15-year sentence at the notorious Parchman Work Farm for shooting a man in what he claimed was self-defense. The story goes that while House was performing at a juke joint, an unknown man came in and opened fire in an apparent random shooting spree. After being shot in the leg, House grabbed his gun and shot the man dead. Upon his release, House made several recordings for famed musicologist, Alan Lomax. But like so many of his contemporaries, House and his music fell out of favor as the ’50s dawned. Fortunately, he was “re-discovered” like many of the others during the folk revival of the mid ’60s. After years working on the railroad, House found himself touring again and playing high-profile gigs at the Newport Folk Festival. Son House permanently retired in 1974 due to health problems and died from cancer of the larynx in 1988.