Skip James Vinyl Records Lps For Sale

Check out these new and used Skip James vinyl records LPs for sale. We recommend starting your Skip James vinyl collection with the essential albums Worried Blues, The Complete 1931 Session and Delta Blues. Our inventory is always changing, so check back often, or browse our list of vinyl records for sale from blues musicians.

Skip James Vinyl Records Lps For Sale

In the hallowed halls of blues history, the name Nehemiah Curtis “Skip” James stands as a testament to the haunting beauty and emotional depth that this genre can encapsulate. Born on June 9, 1902, in Bentonia, Mississippi, James left an indelible mark on the Delta blues landscape. This article delves into the life, music, and lasting legacy of Skip James, an artist whose distinctive voice, intricate guitar work, and soul-penetrating lyrics resonate through the corridors of time.

Early Years and the Bentonia Blues:

Skip James grew up in the small town of Bentonia, located in the heart of the Mississippi Delta. His musical journey began in the rich soil of the blues tradition that permeated the region. Bentonia, in particular, became associated with a unique style of blues characterized by open D-minor guitar tuning and haunting, minor-key melodies.

James was not only a guitarist but also a pianist, and his early influences included the church music he encountered in his youth. The ethereal quality of gospel hymns would later find its way into James’s blues, contributing to the haunting and spiritual dimensions of his sound.

Early Musical Career:

Skip James started his musical career performing in juke joints and local gatherings. His distinctive guitar style and expressive voice set him apart, earning him recognition among local audiences. James’s early performances reflected the traditional Delta blues roots, with echoes of the region’s unique musical tapestry.

In the late 1920s, the recording industry cast its eye on the fertile grounds of the Delta, seeking to capture the authentic sounds that echoed through its fields and bayous. Paramount Records, in particular, recognized the potential of artists like Skip James and invited him to record in Grafton, Wisconsin, in 1931.

The Paramount Recordings:

Skip James’s recordings for Paramount in 1931 are considered some of the most haunting and influential in the history of the blues. These sessions birthed classics like “Devil Got My Woman,” “Hard Time Killing Floor Blues,” and “I’m So Glad.” James’s intricate guitar work, coupled with his falsetto vocals, created a sound that was both ethereal and emotionally intense.

“Devil Got My Woman” stands as one of James’s most iconic compositions. The song’s eerie guitar figures and the desolate lyrics encapsulate the essence of Delta blues. James’s ability to evoke a profound emotional response through his music distinguished him as a master of the craft.

The Enigmatic Tunings:

One of the defining features of Skip James’s guitar playing was his use of unique tunings. He employed open D-minor tuning, among others, to create a sound that resonated with both simplicity and complexity. The distinctive tuning, coupled with his fingerpicking technique, contributed to the richness of James’s guitar arrangements.

The Bentonia blues, with its emphasis on minor keys and unusual tunings, set James apart from other Delta blues musicians. His approach to the guitar not only reflected technical prowess but also a deep emotional connection to the music. This characteristic tuning style became part of James’s legacy, influencing subsequent generations of blues and folk guitarists.

The Long Hiatus:

Despite the brilliance of his recordings, Skip James faced challenges in the wake of the Great Depression. The economic downturn and the decline of the recording industry led many blues musicians, including James, to navigate the harsh realities of life in relative obscurity.

For more than two decades, Skip James largely disappeared from the public eye. His music, recorded in the early 1930s, was relegated to the dusty shelves of collectors and aficionados. James, meanwhile, worked various jobs, including as a furniture salesman and a hospital orderly, outside the realm of the music industry.

Rediscovery and Resurgence:

Skip James’s disappearance from the public eye was not the end of his story. In the early 1960s, a blues revival swept across America, driven by a newfound appreciation for the roots of the genre. Blues enthusiasts and researchers sought out long-forgotten artists, and Skip James was among those rediscovered.

Musicologist and blues enthusiast John Fahey played a pivotal role in locating Skip James in the early 1960s. James, now in his sixties, had never stopped playing music, and his voice and guitar skills remained intact. Fahey and others facilitated James’s return to the spotlight, reigniting interest in his work and securing his place in the pantheon of blues legends.

The Newport Folk Festival:

One of the key moments in Skip James’s rediscovery was his performance at the Newport Folk Festival in 1964. The festival, a focal point for the folk and blues revival, provided a platform for James to reintroduce his unique sound to a new and enthusiastic audience.

James’s appearance at Newport was transformative. His intricate guitar work, soulful vocals, and enigmatic stage presence left an indelible impression on the audience. The blues community embraced him, recognizing the enduring genius that had been hidden from the mainstream for far too long.

The Later Years:

In the wake of his rediscovery, Skip James experienced a late-career resurgence. He recorded new material and performed at various festivals and venues, solidifying his status as a living link to the early roots of the blues. Despite his health struggles, James continued to captivate audiences with his singular approach to the music.

James’s later recordings, such as the album “Devil Got My Woman” (1968), showcased the enduring power of his artistry. The emotional depth, haunting guitar work, and timeless quality of his voice persisted, bridging the decades and connecting new generations to the roots of the blues.

Legacy and Influence:

Skip James’s influence extends far beyond the sheer brilliance of his recordings. His unique guitar tunings, emotive vocals, and the haunting beauty of his compositions have left an indelible mark on the blues genre. Artists across genres, from blues and folk to rock and beyond, have drawn inspiration from James’s work.

The impact of James’s guitar tunings, especially the Bentonia blues style, can be heard in the playing of later blues guitarists. Musicians like Jack White, Rory Block, and Keb’ Mo’ have acknowledged Skip James’s influence on their own approaches to the instrument. His legacy persists not only in direct homage but also in the broader evolution of the blues tradition.

The Resonance of Skip James Today:

The music of Skip James continues to resonate with contemporary audiences. The raw emotion, intricate guitar work, and lyrical depth of his compositions maintain a timeless quality. The haunting quality of “Hard Time Killing Floor Blues” or the melancholic beauty of “I’m So Glad” can still send shivers down the spine of a listener today, just as they did when first recorded in the 1930s.

James’s impact is not confined to the realm of recordings; it lives on through the countless artists who have been touched by his work. His songs have been covered, reinterpreted, and passed down through the generations, ensuring that the legacy of Skip James endures.


Skip James, the enigmatic virtuoso from Bentonia, Mississippi, left an indelible mark on the blues. His haunting vocals, intricate guitar work, and unique approach to the instrument set him apart as a true original. The rediscovery of James in the 1960s brought him the recognition he deserved, allowing a new generation to appreciate.

Visited 1 times, 1 visit(s) today