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Sonny Boy Williamson II

Biography

Sonny Young man Williamson was, in lots of ways, the best blues legend. By enough time of his loss of life in 1965, he previously been around very long enough to get used Robert Johnson in the beginning of his profession and Eric Clapton, Jimmy Web page and Robbie Robertson by the end of it. Among, he drank a whole lot of whiskey, hoboed around the united states, experienced an effective radio present for 15 years, toured European countries to great acclaim and wrote, performed and sang a number of the ideal blues ever etched into dark phonograph information. His delivery was sly, bad and world-weary, while his harp-playing was filled with brief, rhythmic bursts about a minute and effective, impassioned blowing another. His songs had been chock-full of mordant wit, with mainly autobiographical lyrics that endure towards the scrutiny from the imprinted web page. Though he required his namesake from another well-known harmonica participant, no one actually sounded like him. A moody, bitter, and dubious man, nobody wove this type of confusing internet of misinformation as Sonny Boy Williamson II. Actually his birth time (mentioned as Dec 5, 1899 generally in most guide books, however, many sources state his birth might have been in either 1897 or 1909) and true name (Aleck or Alex or Willie “Grain” — which might or may possibly not be a nickname — Miller or Ford) can’t be confirmed with overall certainty. Of his youth times in Mississippi, nothing at all is known. What’s known is the fact that by the middle-’30s, he was vacationing the Delta functioning beneath the alias of Small Boy Blue. With blues legends like Robert Johnson, Robert Nighthawk, Robert Jr. Lockwood, and Elmore Adam as compatible playing companions, he worked well the juke bones, fish fries, nation suppers and ballgames from the period. By the first ’40s, he was the celebrity of KFFA’s Ruler Biscuit Time, the very first live blues radio display going to the American airwaves. Among the main ruses that occurs in blues background, his sponsor — the Interstate Grocery store Company — experienced they could press more sacks of the Ruler Biscuit Flour with Miller posing as Chicago harmonica celebrity John Lee “Sonny Boy” Williamson. In the current everybody-knows-everything video age group, it’s hard to believe that this idea works, significantly less prosper. In the end, the true Sonny Boy was a nationwide recording superstar, and Miller’s vocal and harmonica design was by no means derivative of him. But Williamson acquired no wish to tour within the South, therefore prosper it do, so when John Lee was murdered in Chicago, Miller became — in his personal phrases — “the initial Sonny Boy.” Among his fellow music artists, he was generally still known as Grain Miller, but to all of those other world he do, indeed, end up being the Sonny Boy Williamson. The display was an instantaneous strike, prompting IGC to bring in Sonny Boy Corn Food, filled with a likeness of Williamson on leading from the bundle. With all of this regional achievement, nevertheless, Sonny Boy had not been particularly stressed to record. Though he frequently stated in his twilight years that he previously recorded within the ’30s, no proof that seems to have been around. Lillian McMurray, who owns Trumpet Information in Jackson, MS, got literally monitored him right down to a boarding home in close by Belzoni and enticed him to record on her behalf. The music Sonny Boy designed for her between 1951 to 1954 display him in peak type, his vocal, instrumental, and songwriting abilities honed to excellence. Williamson struck paydirt on his 1st Trumpet discharge, “Eyesight towards the Blind” and even though the afterwards creation on his Chess information would make the Trumpet edges appear woefully under-recorded in comparison, they non-etheless stand today as traditional performances, recording juke joint blues in another of its finest hours. Another main contribution to the annals from the blues happened when Sonny Boy brought Ruler Biscuit Time visitor star Elmore Adam into the studio room for a program. With Williamson blowing harp, a drummer keeping period, as well as the tape machine operating surreptitiously, Elmore documented the very first edition of what would become his personal tune, Robert Johnson’s “Dirt My Broom.” By this time around Sonny Boy experienced divorced his 1st wife (who also been Howlin’ Wolf’s sister) and wedded Mattie Gordon. This might end up being the longest & most long lasting romantic relationship of his existence beyond music, with Mattie enduring the man’s rambling methods, and living a lifestyle of general rootlessness within the discount. On two different events Sonny Boy shifted to Detroit, taking on residence in the infant Boy Warren music group for brief intervals, and added earth-shattering solos on Warren edges for Blue Lake and Excello in 1954. By early 1955, after renting an individual to Johnny Vincent’s Ace label, McMurray got sold Williamson’s agreement to Buster Williams in Memphis, who subsequently marketed it to Leonard Chess in Chicago. All of the pieces had been finally tumbling into place, and Sonny Boy finally experienced grounds to consider up permanent home north from the Mason-Dixon collection; he right now was officially a Chess documenting artist. His 1st program for Chess occurred on August 12, 1955, as well as the solitary pulled from this, “Don’t Begin Me to Talkin’,” began doing quick business around the R&B graphs. By his second program for the label, he was reunited with longtime musical partner Robert Jr. Lockwood. Lockwood — who was simply among the first Ruler Biscuit Guys — got become de facto home guitarist for Chess, in addition to moonlighting for various other Chicago brands. With Lockwood’s mix of Robert Johnson rhythms and jazz chord embellishments, Williamson’s harp and parched vocals sounded fresher than ever before and Lockwood’s efforts towards the achievement of Sonny Boy’s Chess recordings can’t be overestimated. To get a national recording musician, Williamson experienced an extraordinary penchant for tugging a disappearing take action for months at the same time. Occasionally, when Chicago bookings got as well lean, he’d return to Arkansas, fronting the Ruler Biscuit radio display for brief intervals. However in 1963 he was going to European countries for the very first time, within the American Folk Blues Event. The folk music increase was completely golf swing and Europeans had been getting over blues performers, both in and past their leading, to handle wildly appreciative white viewers for the very first time. Sonny Boy unleashed his handbag of tips and stole the present every evening. He loved European countries and remained behind in Britain once the tour going home. He began operating the teenage defeat golf club circuit, touring and documenting using the Yardbirds and Eric Burdon’s music group, whom he constantly known as “de Mammimals.” Within the folk-blues trips, Sonny Boy will be extremely dignified and laid-back. However in the defeat club setting up, with youthful, white rings playing on eleven behind him, he’d grab every juke joint technique he used in combination with the Ruler Biscuit Children and drive the youngsters nut products. “Help Me” became a shock strike in Britain and across European countries. After that in his middle-’60s (or perhaps old), Williamson was really appreciative of all interest, and contemplated shifting to European countries completely. But after obtaining a harlequin, two-tone, town gentleman’s match (filled with bowler head wear, rolled umbrella and connecté case filled with harmonicas) composed for himself, he going back again to the State governments — as well as the Chess studios — for a few final periods. When he came back to Britain in 1964, it had been being a conquering hero. One of is own last recordings, with Jimmy Web page on electric guitar, was entitled “I’m Attempting to create London My House.” In 1965, he going home, back again to Mississippi one final time, and overran the Ruler Biscuit display again. Still putting on his custom-made match, he regaled the local people with tales of his moves across European countries. Some had been impressed, other people who got known him for a long time felt he might have equally well substituted the name “Mars” for European countries in detailing his exploits, very much accustomed had been they to Sonny Boy’s high stories. But after hoboing his method around america for thirty-odd years, and playing to appreciative viewers throughout European countries, Sonny Boy experienced a perfectly justification for time for the Delta; he previously get back to die. He’d enlist assistance from old close friends like Houston Stackhouse and Peck Curtis to consider him around to all or any the back-road areas he had regarded as a youngster, sometimes having to pay his respects to outdated friends, other times just whiling apart an afternoon for the banks of the river angling. When Ronnie Hawkins’ ex-bandmates, the Hawks, had been playing in the region, they made a particular point of searching for Sonny Boy and spent a whole evening support him up in a juke joint. Through the night time, Williamson held spitting right into a espresso can beside him. When Robbie Robertson got as much as keep the bandstand throughout a break, he observed the can was filled up with blood. ON, MAY 25, 1965, Curtis and Stackhouse had been waiting on the KFFA studios for Sonny Youngster to accomplish the daily Ruler Biscuit broadcast. When Williamson didn’t present, Curtis still left the place and going to the rooming home where Sonny Boy was keeping, only to discover him lying during intercourse, dead of the apparent coronary attack. He was buried within the Whitfield Cemetery in Tutwiler, MS, and his funeral was well-attended. As Houston Stackhouse stated, “He was well considered through that nation.” He was elected towards the Blues Basis Hall of Popularity in 1980.

Quick Facts


Full Name Sonny Boy Williamson II
Died May 25, 1965, Helena, Arkansas, United States
Profession Singer, Songwriter, Music Arranger, Bandleader
Nationality American
Parents Millie Ford
Music Songs Bring It on Home, One Way Out, Eyesight to the Blind, Keep It to Yourself, Don´t Start Me to Talkin´, Checkin' up on My Baby, Nine Below Zero, Cross My Heart, Mr. Down Child, All My Love in Vain, Trying to Get Back on My Feet, Your Funeral and My Trial, Good Evening Everybody, I´m A Lonely Man, Pontiac Blues, Lonesome Cabin, West Memphis Blues, Born Blind, Bye Bye Bird, Too Close Together, The Sky Is Crying, Ninety Nine, Take Your Hand Out Of My Pocket, Take It Easy Baby, The Story of Sonny Boy Williamson, Mighty Long Time, My Younger Days, Boppin' With Sonny, The Goat, Keep Your Hands Out of My Pocket, Unseen Eye, Stop Now Baby
Albums Bummer Road, Keep It to Ourselves, Live in Europe, UK Blues, King Biscuit Time, Live in England, Original Sonny, Sonny Boy Williamson Vol. 1 (1937 - 1938), Bluebird Blues - When The Sun Goes Down Series, Bluebird Blues, Good Morning School Girl, Eyesight To The Blind 1951-1954, Portrait Of A Blues Man, the European Tour, 1963 (Hd Remastered Edition, Doxy Collection), Sonny Boy Williamson, Vol. 1: 1937-1939 (Blues Collection Historic Recordings), Sonny Boy Williamson & The Yardbirds (Live), Sonny Boy's Rhythm, Jackson, Mississippi 1953-1954 (Hd Remastered, Restored Edition, Doxy Collection), 1951-1953, Million Years Blues Vol 2, Sonny Boy Williamson : The Classic Sides 1951-1954, Good Morning Little Schoolgirl, The Real Folk Blues (Hd Remastered Edition, Doxy Collection), Sonny Boy Williamson: 55 Masterpieces, True Blues, 20 Blues Greats, Love Me, Baby, Throw A Boogie Woogie, Drink on, Little Girl, Let It Rock, Million Years Blues Vol 3, Million Years Blues Vol 1, 45 Blues Hits, Sonny Boy Williams (1940-1947), Sonny Boy Williamson's Better Cut That Out, The Greatest Blues Collection, Best Blues, Too Young to Die, Memories Suite, Sonny Boy Williamson: Essential 10, Jazz Figures / Sonny Boy Williamson (1937-1939), Sonny Boy Williamson, Vol. 2: 1940-1942 (Historic Recordings), "Sonny Boy" Williamson Volume 1, Legendary Country Blues Artists - CD C, Down and out Blues (Bonus Track Version), Good Morning Little School Girl Vol 2, My Little Machine, I Have Got to Go, Million Years Blues Vol 4, She Was a Dreamer, Little Boy Blue, Sonny Boy Williamson, Saga Blues: Harmonica Wizard


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Soundtrack

Soundtrack

TitleYearStatusCharacter
Wetlands Preserved: The Story of an Activist Nightclub 2008 Documentary writer: "One Way Out"
Fields of Fuel 2008 Documentary writer: "One Way Out" ca 1961
American Gangster 2007 writer: "Checkin' Up On My Baby" 1965
The Departed 2006 writer: "One Way Out" 1961-65
Parashat Ha-Shavua 2006 TV Series performer - 1 episode
The Dukes of Hazzard 2005 writer: "One Way Out"
Lords of Dogtown 2005 writer: "One Way Out"
The Blues TV Series documentary writer - 2 episodes, 2003 performer - 1 episode, 2003
Secondhand Lions 2003 performer: "Help Me" / writer: "Help Me" - as Willie "Sonny Boy" Williamson
Mulholland Dr. 2001 performer: "Bring It On Home"
Almost Famous 2000 writer: "One Way Out"
Jonny Lang Live at Montreux 1999 1999 TV Movie documentary writer: "Good Morning Little School girl" - uncredited
Listening to You: The Who at the Isle of Wight 1970 1998 TV Movie documentary writer: "Eyesight To The Blind The Hawker"
Frogs for Snakes 1998 writer: "Fattening Frogs for Snakes"
The Funeral 1996 performer: "Mr. Down Child", "Pontiac Blues" / writer: "Mr. Down Child", "Pontiac Blues"
Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead 1995 writer: "Help Me"
Who Shot Patakango? 1989 performer: "Don't Start Me Talking"
Barfly 1987 "Nine Below Zero"
Tommy 1975 "Eyesight To The Blind"
Groupies 1970 Documentary writer: "HELP ME BABY"

Music Department

Music Department

TitleYearStatusCharacter
Where Has Poor Mickey Gone? 1964 harmonica

Self

Self

TitleYearStatusCharacter
Ready, Steady, Go! 1965 TV Series Himself
Tempo 1964 TV Series Music performer
The Beat Room 1964 TV Series Himself
Hullabaloo! 1963 TV Series Himself

Archive Footage

Archive Footage

TitleYearStatusCharacter
The Who: The Making of Tommy 2013 TV Movie documentary Himself
My Kinda People 2003 TV Movie Himself
The Howlin' Wolf Story 2003 Documentary Himself
The Blues 2003 TV Series documentary Himself
Blues Odyssey 2001 TV Movie documentary Himself
Long John Baldry: In the Shadow of the Blues 2000 Documentary Himself
Bluesland: A Portrait in American Music 1993 Documentary Himself - Performer

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