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Sonny Boy Williamson I

Easily the main harmonica player from the prewar era, John Lee Williamson nearly single-handedly made the humble mouth organ a worthy lead instrument for blues bands — at the forefront for the amazing innovations of Small Walter and a platoon of others to check out. If not really for his tragic murder in 1948 while on his method house from a Chicago gin mill, Williamson would doubtless have already been there alongside them, discovering new and interesting directions. It could safely be observed that Williamson produced the the majority of his limited period on earth. Currently a harp virtuoso in his teenagers, the initial Sonny Guy (Grain Miller would adopt the same moniker down in the Delta) discovered from Hammie Nixon and Noah Lewis and rambled with Sleepy John Estes and Yank Rachell before settling in Chicago in 1934. Williamson’s severe versatility and constant ingenuity gained him a Bluebird documenting agreement in 1937. Beneath the direction from the ubiquitous Lester Melrose, Sonny Guy Williamson documented prolifically for Victor both being a head and behind others in the huge Melrose steady (including Robert Lee McCoy and Big Joe Williams, who subsequently played on a few of Williamson’s edges). Williamson commenced his sensational documenting career using a resounding bang. His initial vocal providing on Bluebird was the seminal “HELLO School Gal,” protected countless times over the years. That same auspicious time also created “Glucose Mama Blues” and “Blue Parrot Blues,” both of these just as classic within their personal right. Another year brought even more gems, including “Decor Blues” and “Whiskey Going Female Blues.” The result of 1939 included “T.B. Blues” and “Inform Me Baby,” while Williamson lower “My Small Machine” and “Jivin’ the Blues” in 1940. Jimmy Rogers evidently took take note of Williamson’s “Sloppy Drunk Blues,” cut with pianist Blind John Davis and bassist Ransom Knowling in 1941; Rogers modified the listen in storming style for Chess in 1954. The mom lode of 1941 also included “Floor Hog Blues” and “My Dark Name,” as the well-known “Stop WEARING DOWN” (1945) discovered the harpist supported by guitarist Tampa Crimson and pianist Big Maceo. Sonny Boy lower a lot more than 120 edges in every for RCA from 1937 to 1947, most of them arriving in the postwar repertoires of varied Chicago blues giants. His call-and-response design of alternating vocal passages with pungent harmonica blasts was a advancement of mammoth proportions that might be adopted over the panel by just about any blues harpist to check out in his wake. But Sonny Boy Williamson wouldn’t live to enjoy any appreciable benefits from his innovations. He passed away at age 34, while at the zenith of his recognition (his romping “Tremble That Boogie” was a nationwide R&B strike in 1947 on Victor), from a violent bludgeoning about the top that occurred throughout a strong-arm robbery for the South Part. “Better Cut That Out,” another storming rocker later on appropriated by Junior Wells, became a posthumous strike for Williamson in past due 1948. It had been the last song he previously focused on posterity. Wells was only 1 young harpist to show his long lasting allegiance; a teenaged Billy Boy Arnold got recently summoned in the nerve to knock on his idol’s door to require lessons. The accommodating Sonny Boy Williamson was just too pleased to oblige, a kindness Arnold hasn’t forgotten (nor will he neglect to spend tribute to his eternal primary man every opportunity he gets). Such may be the enduring legacy from the blues’ 1st great harmonicist.

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