Saturday, January 28, 2012

Elmore James and his strange legacy



Besides being Mozart's birthday, January 27 is, or was, the birthday of one of my favorite blues musicians, Elmore James.

Back in my blues days Elmore James was my favorite. I still love his raw sound.



Years ago I heard a rumor that Elmore James' son was an opera singer, having inherited the family pipes. I heard that from Shakin' Smith, the harmonica genius I used to be friends with, I mean back when he lived in Buffalo. Shake told me that Elmore James Jr. was an opera singer but he never wanted to talk about his father because his father had not been in his life. Something like that. This is years ago that I heard that story. I do not remember it exactly

Just now I took it upon myself to Google the situation. After all these years!

And lo and behold I did find an Elmore James who is an opera singer.

Elmore James the blues singer apparently had another son who is a blues singer and goes by the name Elmore James Jr. That is inevitable.

The Elmore James who is an opera singer does not go by Jr. And what references I can find of him, he does not mention that his father is the blues singer, if indeed it is. But come on, it has to be.

The New York Times praised an Elmore James as Leporello in "Don Giovanni" back in 1987.

And this same Elmore James seems to have appeared as Masetto in a Peter Sellars film version of "Don Giovanni" set in a ghetto. Alas, I cannot find a clip of him in that.

It has to be the blues singer's son. He inherited the voice.

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