Born: Nov 4, 1937 in Russell County, AL
Died: Dec 11, 2010 in Tampa, FL
Styles: Modern Electric Blues, Soul-Blues
Instruments: Guitar, Vocals
Florida-based guitarist, singer and songwriter James Peterson plays a gritty style of southern-fried blues that is at times reminiscent of Howlin' Wolf and other times more along the lines of Freddie King. He formed his first band while he was living in Buffalo, NY and running Governor's Inn, House of Blues in the 1960s. He and his band would back up the traveling musicians who came through, including blues legends like Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, Big Joe Turner, Freddie King, Lowell Fulson and Koko Taylor.
Peterson was born November 4, 1937 in Russel County, Alabama. Peterson was strongly influenced by gospel music in the rural area he grew up in, and he began singing in church as a child. Thanks to his father's jukejoint, he was exposed to blues at an early age, and later followed in his footsteps in upstate New York. After leaving home at age 14, he headed to Gary, Indiana, where he sang with his friend John Scott. While still a teen, he began playing guitar, entirely self-taught. Peterson cites musicians like Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf (Chester Burnett), Jimmy Reed and B.B. King as his early role models. After moving to Buffalo, N.Y. in 1955, he continued playing with various area blues bands, and ten years later, he opened his own blues club.
In 1970, Peterson recorded his first album, The Father, Son and the Blues on the Perception/Today label. While he ran his blues club at night, he supplemented his income by running a used-car lot during the day. Peterson's debut album was produced and co-written with Willie Dixon, and it featured a then-five-year-old Lucky Peterson on keyboards. Peterson followed it up with Tryin' to Keep the Blues Alive a few years later. Peterson's other albums include Rough and Ready and Too Many Knots for the Kingsnake and Ichiban labels in 1990 and 1991, respectively.
The album that's put Peterson back on the road as a national touring act is his 1995 release, Don't Let the Devil Ride for the Jackson, Mississippi-based Waldoxy Records. A master showman who has learned from the best and knows how to work an audience, he's also a crafty songwriter endowed with a deep, gospel-drenched singing style.
- Richard Skelly (All Music Guide)