Skip James

Nehemiah Curtis “Skip” James

American Folk and Blues Festival (Cologne, Germany – October 9, 1967)

At the top of my personal list of favorite Delta blues artists, Skip James reigns supreme.

Skip James played in the greatest alternate tuning ever, the open D-minor “Bentonia” tuning, named after the town where he was born. I call it the “Scorpio” tuning.

Skip James got done wrong. He got done dirty.

Back in the 1960s, a few years before Skip’s death, a “biographical author” weaseled into his world and had the honor of spending one-on-one time with Skip as he recounted the good times and bad times of his life.

This “author” individual was profoundly mentally ill… twisted, sick, sorry and sad.

Here’s the book.

The author shall not be named.

Skip James was (presumably) audio recorded over a period of time, sharing stories and other information, and this audio has never been made public, most likely because it would contradict what was ultimately written in the book.

The only solace regarding this book and its portrayal of Skip James is that Skip died before it was released, and thankfully, he never knew how badly he had been betrayed by this cretin.

Yes, I do think the author was very mentally ill. But that doesn’t excuse what he did. Nothing excuses the magnitude of this wasted opportunity…

Imagine getting to sit down with such an historically significant musician and have the honor of listening to him recount his life, only to turn around and paint a warped picture of that legend.

This article goes a long way in explaining how and why the “biographical” book was so wrong…

“Meeting Skip James” by Tom Jacobson

The transcribed letters from Skip (and his wife) are my favorite thing about this article.

Predictably, someone in proximity to the psycho “biographical” author got hold of a letter that was written by Skip James to the author’s sister and put it up for auction. While it is a bittersweet piece of memorabilia due to the betrayal that took place, it’s still fascinating to see Skip’s handwriting.