Sonny Boy # 1

gtrmac@prodigy.net gtrmac@prodigy.net
Thu Mar 31 12:25:46 EST 2005


John Lee "Sonny Boy" Williamson

Biography
Generally regarded as the original "Sonny Boy", John Lee Williamson was born
in Jackson, Tennessee on March 30, 1914. He hoboed with Yank Rachell and
John Estes through Tennessee and Arkansas in the late 1920's and early
1930's. He worked with Sunnyland Slim in Memphis in the early 1930's. John
Lee Williamson moved to Chicago in 1934 where he worked Maxwell Street and
as a sideman with numerous blues groups at the local clubs. His first
recording, made in May of 1937 at the Leland Hotel in Aurora, Illinois for
the Bluebird label, is also the first recording of Good Morning Little
School Girl, which has become a much recorded blues classic tune. Bluebird
recorded him until 1945 when Victor recorded him into 1947. Williamson
worked frequently with Muddy Waters from 1943 and toured with Lazy Bill
Lucas through the 1940's. He recorded with Big Joe Williams for the Columbia
label in Chicago in 1947. In 1948 upon leaving the Plantation Club in
Chicago after playing a gig, he was mugged and beaten. He died of a
fractured skull and other injuries on June 1, 1948 and is buried in Jackson,
Tennessee.

John Lee Williamson is regarded as "the first truly virtuosic blues
harmonica player", "who brought the harmonica to prominence as a major blues
instrument". He played a tremendous role in influencing the classic Chicago
blues of the 1940's and 1950's. Among the artists he has influenced are
Billy Boy Arnold, Shakey Jake Harris, Big Walter Horton, Little Walter, Dr.
Ross, Junior Wells, and Johnny Young.

Guitar Mac.

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----- Original Message -----
From: "BJL" <louis.music@VIRGIN.NET>
To: <BLUES-L@LISTS.NETSPACE.ORG>
Sent: Thursday, March 31, 2005 8:33 AM
Subject: Re: Sonny Boy # 1


> There's a case to be made that SBW #1 actually gained from the imitation -
> Rice Miller was providing free advertising for John Lee Williamson.   SBW
> #2 had a very popular radio show through the mid-south when SBW #1 was
> based in Chicago.   When the audience heard #2 on the radio and wanted to
> buy his records, the only SBW records they could buy from 1941-51 were by
> #1.
>
> #1 was certainly aware of #2 - he even recorded SBW#2's "King Biscuit
Time"
> theme song in 1947 as "King Biscuit Stomp" for Columbia.
>
> BTW: SBW #2 was older than SBW #1.
>
> BJL
>
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