Here’s a funiosity.
On the surface this Press Release from some 46 years ago appears to be about a routine like-for-like replacement for a musician suddenly taken sick mid-tour.
However, when it landed on the desk of seasoned music journalist Max Jones at Melody Maker it didn’t take long for him to guess that there was more to this seemingly bland press release than met the eye.
“Hello Bear” (which is how Max always addressed me “don’t tell me that Home has gone off the rails again”. Naturally I denied it strenuously if not convincingly, before Max downed the receiver with his trademark chortle and a “lying sod”.
Truth to tell, it didn’t require genius to reach the same conclusion as did Max, especially for anyone who had more than a passing acquaintance with Homesick James, probably born James Williamson or maybe William Henderson in Somerville, Tennessee in 1905. He was, on his day, a totally mesmerising and captivating performer, playing wild, seemingly almost out-of-control slide guitar and delivering pure Mississippi field holler vocals.
When it wasn’t his day, he could be a nightmare. On a Blues Legends tour, playing concert halls, he would sometimes vanish just minutes before he was scheduled to go on stage, only to be found lurking in a nearby bar.
When I would remonstrate he would smile sweetly and offer me a drink. Other times, when he was really feeling the spirit, he would refuse to leave the stage at the end of his set.
And yes, this was the only time I had to do this in the many tours I did with him, I had to send him back early to Chicago.
At heart, he was a good man and I was really very fond of him. This experience in no way damaged our relationship and we continued to work and record together.