Elmore James

© Euphus Ruth

In early September 1991, after reading an article about the Robert Johnson ceremony at the Mt. Zion Church in Billboard Magazine, Phil Walden of Capricorn Records contacted Skip Henderson and commissioned a bronze sculpture mounted on a granite headstone through the Mt. Zion Fund in honor of Elmore James. The memorial was placed on James’ grave in the Newport Baptist Church Cemetery in Ebenezer, Mississippi on December 10th, 1992. 

© Euphus Ruth
The ceremony was attended by approximately 100 people including members of James’ family from as far away as Chicago, three members of the Mississippi State Legislature, Capricorn Records’ President Phil Walden, musician and songwriter Marshall Crenshaw, numerous members of the local media, and dozens of blues fans from all across America and Europe. Walden humorously admitted at the event that his dentist, Dr. Sam Barnes of Nashville, an amateur sculptor who was also in attendance, suggested the headstone design after having administered anesthesia to Walden during a dental procedure. Dr. Barnes’ bronze likeness of Elmore James now adorns the specially designed headstone. 

(Jackson, MS) Clarion Ledger, Dec 6, 1992.
(Jackson, MS) Clarion Ledger, Nov 6, 1992.
(Carbondale, IL) Southern Illinoisan, Dec 9, 1992.

Chicago Tribune, Nov 19, 1992.
Billboard magazine, Feb 13, 1993.