He was born in Riverton, Mississippi.
Son House made recordings for Paramount Records in 1930 and for Alan Lomax from the Library of Congress in the early 1940s. He then faded from public view until the country blues revival in the 1960s when he was "re-discovered". He subsequently toured extensively in the US and Europe and recorded for CBS records. Like Mississippi John Hurt he was welcomed into the music scene of the 1960s and played at Newport Folk Festival in 1964.
It was Son House who, more than anyone else, invented the delta blues. Unlike some blues guitarists of the 1920s and 30s, he was not a virtuoso, and there is nothing technically impressive about his playing. He more than made up for this by his innovative style, featuring very strong, repetitive rhythms, often played with the aid of a bottleneck, coupled with singing that owed more than a nod to the hollers of the chain gangs. The music of Son House, in contrast to that of, say, Blind Lemon Jefferson, was emphatically a dance music, meant to be heard in the noisy atmosphere of a barrelhouse or other dance hall. House was an important influence on not only Charley Patton but also Robert Johnson, who would later take his music to new levels. It was House who, speaking to awe-struck young blues fans in the 1960s, spread the legend that Johnson had sold his soul to the Devil in exchange for his musical powers.