Skip James was born in Bentonia, MS, June 9, 1902. He died of cancer October 3, 1969 in Philadelphia, PA.
The first Blues Vault release, She Lyin' is a guitar collection recorded by Skip James in 1964, immediately after his "rediscovery." Skip was found in the Tunica County, Mississippi, hospital by John Fahey and Bill Barth, young guitarists who were acting on a tip from Ishmon Bracey. Like James, Bracey had recorded blues 78s during the late 20s/early 30s heyday, but, as a sanctified preacher, Bracey had no interest in returning to the Devil's music. According to Barth, age and infirmity had put James at the bottom of the plantation hierarchy, responsible for such mindless tasks as overseeing the sowing of cotton seeds into furrows, and Skip was both delighted and anxious to leave Mississippi farm life. The two young men paid the modest hospital bill and whisked Skip away to the thriving East Coast folk scene. After rehearsals and several performances, including a brief but memorable appearance at the Newport Folk Festival, Skip was ready to record again. Fahey, Barth and partner Ed Denson arranged for sessions with sound engineer Gene Rosenthal in the basement studio of the Rosenthal home in Silver Spring, Maryland. Those sessions, supplemented with live performance tapes made by Rosenthal at the Ontario Place Coffee House in Washington during the same period, are reproduced here.
Of all the so-called blues "rediscoveries" of the 1960s, Skip James was the most enigmatic. His genuine artistic temperament made him no less volatile and unpredictable than Van Gogh or Toscanini. While he could be a loyal friend and ingratiating performer, Skip was not one to suffer fools, cheats, bigots or inferior music gladly.... He possessed genuis and artistry, however, in amounts sufficient to justify that termperament, though his talents earned him precious little reward until the end of his life, when the Eric Clapton-led rock group Cream placed Skip's I'm So Glad on a best-selling LP...
~Richard Spottswood, 1993. From the liner notes
UPDATE 2005: Skip James' song I'm So Glad appears on Cream's Reunion Concert, Recorded Live at Albert Hall, released on CD and DVD in October 2005.
Gene Rosenthal attests that it's his belief that Skip James' performance of I'm So Glad on She Lyin' is his perhaps his finest performance if the song in Skip's post-rediscovery period.