318 A BICENTENNIAL HISTORY OF MISSISSIPPI PHOTO BY GREG CAMPBELL ELMORE JAMES Known as “the king of the slide guitar,” Elmore James— originally given the name Elmore Brooks—was born in Richland on January 27, 1918. The influential blues artist grew up playing a one-string guitar and later created his own multi-string guitar using household items. As a young man in the late 1930s, James played in Belzoni with blues legends Sonny Boy Williamson II and Robert Johnson, from whom James picked up elements of his electric style. After residing on several different farms in the Delta counties of Holmes and Humphreys, James received honors for his service in the U. S. Navy during World War II from 1943 to 1945. James worked at Holston’s radio repair store in Canton where he was exposed to the newly developing musical electronics of the mid-twentieth century. James became popular while performing on radio shows in the Delta and in Arkansas, but got his career breakthrough with his first song recorded for Trumpet label in 1951. For this recording, James collaborated with Sonny Boy Williamson II on Robert Johnson’s 1936 song, “Dust My Broom,” making it a nationwide hit. During the next ten years, James split his time performing and recording for numerous well-known labels in both Mississippi and Chicago. Some of his greatest hits include “The Sky is Crying,” “I Believe,” and “It Hurts Me Too.” James passed away due to a heart attack on May 24, 1963. He is buried at the Newport Missionary Baptist Church cemetery in Ebenezer. Although James only lived to the age of forty- five, his music left a lasting legacy, influencing both blues and rock guitarists such as Alan Wilson of Canned Heat, Jeremy Spencer of Fleetwood Mac, and members of the Allman Brothers Band. PHOTO COURTESY OF BLUES ARCHIVE, UNIVERSITY OF MISSISSIPPI