(May 3, 1914 – December 13, 2006)
Homesick James was born James Williamson on 3 May 1914 in Somerville, Tennessee. He was playing guitar at local dances and taverns at the age of 14. Homesick developed a "bottleneck" style by sliding a pocket knife up and down the strings. In 1932 he moved north to Chicago and by the end of the decade had formed a small band which toured the southern states during the 40s. Among its members were Snooky Pryor and Leroy "Baby Face" Foster. His first known recordings were in 1952 for Chance Records, recording the tracks "Lonesome Ole Train" and "Homesick" which gave him his stage name. Homesick also worked extensively as a sideman, backing harp great Sonny Boy Williamson in 1945 at a Chicago gin joint called the Purple Cat and during the 1950s with his cousin, slide master Elmore James (to whom Homesick is stylistically indebted). He also recorded with James during the 1950s on many of the latter's most famous records. He recorded his own most famous track for USA in 1962: an updated version of Robert Johnson's "Crossroads," its pounding rhythms and heavily amplified bottleneck making it a landmark in city blues. After the death of Elmore James in 1963, Homesick James saw himself as the standard-bearer of his cousin's powerful guitar style. He recorded for Prestige Records and toured Europe in 1973. Homesick continued recording into the 1990s. He also continued to tour and make appearances at festivals well into the 2000s. He died on December 13, 2006.