James who learned to play guitar a guitar his father bought him from a share cropper in 1929 for $8 has past away. James had a photographic memory and would often tell of meeting and playing with Robert Johnson who happened to be dating Honeyboy's cousin. Honeyboy won a Grammy for traditional blues album and also received a lifetime achievement award in 2010. His death represent a direct loss of a direct link to the first generation of Mississippi blues musicians. That part history will have to be read about from now on.
Born in 1915, Honeyboy was playing professionally by the age of 17. He had a wonderful story about his first paid gig where they gave him some alcohol and he played for many hour - but all the same tune with different lyrics. Honeyboy learned to hobo and spent 32 years on the road as a bluesman. "If you stay out of the cotton fields then you are doing pretty good," Honeyboy said. His first recording was in Clarksdale in 1942, when Alan Lomax recorded blues music by HoneyBoy, Son House, Willie Brown, and Muddy Waters for the library of congress. “I did 17 numbers for him!” Honeyboy wrote. “… And after he gave me $20. That twenty kicked like a hundred dollars in my pocket then. That was my first recording and I felt good! I felt all right with $20 in my pocket, too; I appreciated that.”
From the movie - Lightning in a bottle - 2004!
Up until his death Honeyboy was still playing 75 shows a year. Colorful and enduring, Honeyboy loved to tell stories and had plenty to tell. He was a living breathing museum and national treasure whose time has come to pass. God speed Honeyboy!