Today is the birthday of Skip James (1902-1969). This influential Mississippi guitar player (associated with a distinctive open E minor tuning) began his working life as a bootlegger and sharecropper, before going into music in the late 20s and early 30s. After making some recordings in 1931, he dropped off the map for three decades until his rediscovery (really, his discovery) by younger generations in the folk and blues revival of the 1960s.
So seminal was James that he may have influenced ROBERT JOHNSON. The latter is said to have based his playing on “Hell Hound on My Trail” on James’s “Devil Got My Woman” (performed here in 1966):