Homesick James (April 30, 1910 – December 13, 2006) was an American blues musician known for his mastery of the slide guitar. He recorded covers of “Stones in My Passway” and “Homesick”. He worked with his cousin, Elmore James, and with Sonny Boy Williamson II. His birth name is variously reported as John William Henderson, James Williams, or James Williamson.
Homesick James was born in Somerville, Tennessee, the son of Cordellia Henderson and Plez Williamson Rivers, who were both musicians. The year of his birth is uncertain. He stated that he was born in 1905, 1910, or 1914, while his union records give 1924.
Homesick James Little is known about his early life. He developed a self-taught style of slide guitar through playing at local dances in his teens. He claimed to have played with Yank Rachell, Sleepy John Estes, Blind Boy Fuller and Big Joe Williams, among others, and to have been acquainted with Robert Johnson. He also claimed to be the older cousin of Elmore James, to have bought James his first guitar, and to have taught him how to play slide. However, some of these claims are unconfirmed.
Homesick James By the mid-1930s he was based in Chicago, working with Horace Henderson’s band at the Circle Inn and with the pianist Jimmy Walker at the Square Deal Club. He may have first recorded for RCA Victor in 1937, but this is also unconfirmed, and by 1938 may have begun playing electric guitar. His first known recordings were in 1952 for Chance Records, recording the tracks “Lonesome Ole Train” and “Homesick”, which gave him his stage name. During the late 1940s and 1950s he worked with Sonny Boy Williamson II (Rice Miller), and with Elmore James, and in the early 1950s he worked in bands including Baby Face Leroy Foster, Snooky Pryor, Floyd Jones, and Lazy Bill Lucas.[11