ALABAMA JAMES DARKNESS conceived by and written with great help from Kyle McCulloch
Born sometime around 1910 in Bellamy, Alabama, James Caffey (aka Alabama James Darkness aka James Darkness) is one of the most remarkable and enigmatic figures in the Blues genre.
While tales abound of bluesmen selling their souls to the Devil in exchange for fame or musical skill, rumors of the day claimed that Darkness had met the Devil at a crossroads and, through a well-timed distraction, managed to purchase the Devil’s soul instead. Darkness himself later claimed the Devil’s soul resided his guitar case, explaining the macabre nature of his songs. While this twist certainly makes a more entertaining legend, it is often cited as a possible reason behind Darkness’ sub-par guitar playing, lifelong poverty, and general lack of success.
Sixty years before the term Goth was coined, Alabama James Darkness was experimenting with a mix of Delta Blues and startlingly modern supernatural nihilism. His morbid focus and recurring themes (as well as his trademark white face paint and blood-red lipstick) would clearly inspire and inform late-20th-century bands such as Christian Death, Joy Division, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Bauhaus and The Cure, to name a few.