b. 4 July 1905, Hightower, Texas, USA. Apart from a spell of wartime defence work in the north, Holmes was based in Houston from 1930, by which time he was already a blues singer and guitarist, working in clubs on Dowling Street. His first recordings in 1947 were not issued because the producer felt he sounded too much like Lightnin’ Hopkins, a judgment belied by three titles recorded the same year, and issued by Miltone and Gotham. Some of Holmes’ lyrics come from Alger ‘Texas’ Alexander (‘Alley Special’ is based on two Alexander recordings), but both words and music (including vocal melodies) sound completely improvised; his guitar playing determinedly obscures its basic pulse with syncopations, changes of tempo, and explosive, random-sounding runs. Holmes gave up blues by 1950, and was last seen in 1967, by which time he had lost a leg and turned to religion.
Share this page