Today on the 120th anniversary of his birth, Purple Eternity Records commemorates the legacy of blues-legend Eddie James “Son” House Jr.‘s. Known as “the man who taught Robert Johnson”, Son House is highly regarded for his unique performance style which combines his rhythmic and repetitive drive, vocal power, and emotional intensity. He had a short career as a musician during the 1930’s and 1940’s in which he played with Charley Patton and Willie Brown, and recorded for Paramount Records, the Library of Congress and Fisk University, before he left the Delta of Mississippi for Rochester, New York, and retired from music. In a later interview Son House stated that he distanced himself from the blues because many blues musicians he played with died at that time, and he was concerned that he would be next if he continued to play it, as he considered the blues to be demonic. He was rediscovered by record collectors in the 1960’s during the folk blues revival which saw the rise of international enthusiasm and critical acclaim of delta blues music, and soon relearned his repertoire before he started perform at festivals, on concert tours, and to record several albums. He recorded for CBS Records and performed at the Newport Folk Festival in 1964, the New York Folk Festival in July 1965, and the European tour of the American Folk Festival in October 1967, before also appearing at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 1970. Son House retired once again in 1974 after ill health plagued him and moved to Detroit, Michigan, where he remained until he died from cancer of the larynx on Octoebr 19, 1988. House was a critical influence for other blues legends such as Muddy Waters and Robert Johnson, as well as contemporary musicians, most notably Jack White.
And for Aaron Levin Harder, Son House meant the discovery of a way to express himself, and to play guitar and sing:
“Son House was the greatest blues player of all time. He just let it go […]. When I saw him first time, a video of him, I was like getting goose bumps and I cried. And afterwards, few weeks later, I picked up a guitar and taught myself to play. Because of Son House. The way he played is something out of this world. With which energy he plays and everything, that’s, mindblowing […]”.
Click here and watch Son House’s full live performance from November 15, 1969, where performs four of his best known songs, tells stories and talks about the meaning of the blues.