Here's a birthday tribute to Eddie James House, Jr! His high-emotion and intense style as a vocalist and slide player are about as heavy as classic blues got. As well, he mixed in a capella spirituals into his performances.
Born in the Mississippi Delta, Son House was a nomadic preacher for some time. Coming out of the church, he went blues in '27 after initially disapproving of it due to his former position. This happened after he was entranced while hearing someone play bottleneck guitar. He was already 25 when he picked up a guitar for the first time.
After killing a man he spent some time in jail. Upon release he became a popular artist in Mississippi, did some train-hopping and hoboing around, traveling with Charley Patton & Willie Brown and cutting sides for Paramount in '30. In the early '40s he was a recorded subject of Alan Lomax, who was deeply inspired by the House 78s he had prized. House quit music in '43 to move to upstate NY, but not before inspiring Robert Johnson and Muddy Waters (who, of course, inspired seemingly everyone else).
He was found in Rochester NY in '64, having not touched a guitar for many years. He was prompted to join the folk revival coffeehouse circuit, scaring the shit out of preppy cracker kids with his raw grit and moody style. Several new recordings were made (including with Canned Heat's Blind Owl Wilson), as well as tours of the States and Europe.
Son House was always one of the most intense of the folk-blues artists, as great tunes like "Death Letter" tell, and his recordings at both ends of his career are fantastic. As such, he was a major influence on many blues and rock guitarists.