Son House

From Academic Kids

Missing image
Son House, circa 1965

Eddie James House, Jr. (March 21, 1902October 19, 1988), better known as Son House, was an influential blues singer and guitarist. His date of birth is a matter of debate. While all legal records place his birth on March 21, 1902, Son House himself gave contradictory information: that he was middle aged during World War I, that he was 79 in 1965, that he was born in 1886. Certainly, the voice in his recordings for the Library of Congress in 1941 and 1942 was not one of a young man.

He was born in Riverton, Mississippi.

He played alongside Charley Patton, Willie Brown, Robert Johnson, "Fiddlin'" Joe Martin, and Leroy Williams.

After killing a man, allegedly in self-defense, he spent time on Parchman Farm.

Son House made recordings for Paramount Records in 1930 and for Alan Lomax from the Library of Congress in the early 1940s. He then faded from public view until the country blues revival in the 1960s when he was "re-discovered". He subsequently toured extensively in the US and Europe and recorded for CBS records. Like Mississippi John Hurt he was welcomed into the music scene of the 1960s and played at Newport Folk Festival in 1964.

Unlike some blues guitarists of the 1920s and 30s, House was not a virtuoso, and there is little that is technically impressive about his playing. He more than made up for this lack of technique, however, with his powerful and innovative style, featuring very strong, repetitive rhythms, often played with the aid of a bottleneck, coupled with singing that owed more than a nod to the hollers of the chain gangs. The music of Son House, in contrast to that of, say, Blind Lemon Jefferson, was emphatically a dance music, meant to be heard in the noisy atmosphere of a barrelhouse or other dance hall. House was an important influence on not only Muddy Waters but also Robert Johnson, who would later take his music to new levels. It was House who, speaking to awe-struck young blues fans in the 1960s, spread the legend that Johnson had sold his soul to the Devil in exchange for his musical powers. More recently, House's music has influenced rock groups such as the White Stripes, who covered his song Death Letter on their album De Stijl, and later performed it at the 2004 Grammy Awards.

Ill health plagued his later years and Son House stopped performing in the early 1970s and died in Detroit, House fy:Son House


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