This gospel sounding Blues singer from Pritchard AL got started in 1957 as an opening act for Guitar Slim, who gave him the ‘Thunderbird’ tag after a drinking contest. Duke Records of Houston signed James up and his emotive style on ‘Blue Monday’ and ‘Your Turn to Cry’ were great examples of the current Blues scene, but didn’t make much impact outside the South. James left Duke in 1966 and spent some time as an opening act for other peoples tours before quitting the business. Black Top Records got him back in the studio in 1989 to cut ‘Check Out Time’, where he showed that his pipes were still in great form as he re-visited his old songs along with some classic tracks. While James was onstage at The Blues Saloon in St. Paul MN, he suffered a massive heart attack half-way through his set and checked out for the last time.

James belts out a track from the ‘Check Out Time’ album;