Eddie James “Son” House was born in the winter of 1902 in a hamlet, of Lyon near Clarksdale Mississippi. His father was a musician and occasionally he and his two brothers played guitar with the father. He grew up listening to the delta blues singers and guitarist. He sang with his soul and perfected the bottle neck slide, which is what it sounds like, a broken bottle neck on his fret finger. He left music for a few years to be a preacher but returned to music at the age of 25. While playing in a delta juke joint, a man went on a shooting spree, wounding House in the leg. When the carnage was over, House had killed the man and spent a few years in the Parchman Farm penitentiary.
While incarcerated, he perfected his style and upon his release began playing with Charley Patton, a prominent blues artist. He continued working with several blues performers and recorded a dozen songs. In 1942, his drinking was severe and a year later, he faded from the music scene and moved to Rochester, New York. He did a variety of labor jobs including working as a railroad porter and chief but did not play music.
In 1964 after a long search of the Mississippi Delta region, three young musicians found Son House living in an apartment building on Greig Street. During the early ’60s and ’70s, better than 150 residences were demolished in Corn Hill. 61 Grieg Street was one of the apartment buildings razed.
For the next ten years, he would have some renewed opportunity to play his guitar and record. He did a European tour as well as several Jazz and folk festivals. He played with some of the best blues men, including Alan Wilson (later Canned Heat), Willie Brown (mandolin), fiddling Joe Martin and harmonica player Leroy Williams. These musicians frequently recorded with House.
In 1974, his ill health and years of alcohol abuse caught up with him. He moved back to Detroit and died of cancer of the larynx on October 19, 1988. He was married five times and is buried in Detroit.
In 2007, House was honored with a marker on the Mississippi Blues Trail.
In 2017, his single “Preachin’ the Blues” was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame. Follow this link to hear Son House “Preachin’ the Blues”.