John William Henderson (he adopted the name James Williamson  early in his career), was born in Somerville, Tennessee, in, or sometime before 1910, although his actual birth date has never been verified. He claims that he was born as early as 1905 which may be true since by the early 1920's he had left home to go on the road, playing guitar and performing on street corners and at parties and fish fries. For the next decade he travelled around Mississippi and the Carolina's and during this period he often performed with contemporaries such as Sleepy John Estes, Yank Rachell, Big Joe Williams and Blind Boy Fuller. In the early 1930's he settled in Chicago and made his first recordings for RCA Victor.  During the 1940's he began playing with Sonny Boy Williamson (Rice Miller) and in the 1950's he frequently joined up with Elmore James (who he claimed was his cousin), recording with him on occasions. Probably his best recordings are as a solo performer and he gained his nickname relatively late in his career in 1952 when his recorded his classic track "Homesick" for Chance Records. He continued to record prolifically throughout the 1960's and 1970's, and even when he was well into his 90's (and possibly nearing 100 years old) he continued touring and recording. His last public appearance was at a festival in July 2006 in England when he was clearly ailing, and he passed away later that year.

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