SonnyBoy

You got to help me, baby.I can't do it all by myself.You know if you don't help me, darling,I'll have to find myself somebody else.sonny boy williamson

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FAQs

How Do I Sort Out The Overlapping Sonny Boy I and II Recordings?

Click on the "Records" bar to your left and start with those records noted in ALL CAPITALS.

 

The Complete Career-Spanning Recordings

CD Sets

1. The Best of Trumpet Records recordings (released and unreleased) is now included in Sonny Boy Williamson: The Classic Sides 1951-1954 JSP7766 (Made in Britain) (4 CDs including 55 cuts with Sonny Boy ), 

 2  the rare (look for one on E-Bay) Sonny Boy williamson: The Chess Years CD Red Box 1  (4 CDs with 70 released and 19 unreleased alternatives) on Charly has everything released or unreleased on Chess, and

 3. d American Folk Blues Festival '62-65 ECD26100 (5 CDs including 8 cuts by Sonny Boy) and \

  4. another five performanceson The Unissued 1963 AFBF as included on The Devil's Music; The Soundtrack to The 1976 BBC TV Documentary Series INDIGO Box Set (Do not buy other versions of the Unlissued 1963 AFBF as they have an annoying high pitched feedback squeal on them. This was not released on other versions because it had that noise and they have finally engineered it out. This CD has the marvelous and unique versions of "99," "Don't Stop Me Talkin'" and "All My Love In Vain" which he has not recorded live elsewhere.).

   5. There are also 13 tracks from the BBC special with Chris Barber in May 1964 which featured Sonny Boy Williamson on Lost and Found The Blues Legacy Vol. 3  available at www.blueslegacy.net .

    6.Other bootlegs have been released but they are not on authorized CDs or currently available.

DVDs Of course the 13 performances + individual performances as a finale, with Mae Mercer, Victoria Spreey & Muddy Waters and DVDs on

   1.The American Folk Blues Festival 1962-1966 Vol 1 & 2 and

    2. The British Tours 1963-1966 and

    3. Memphis Slim and Sonny Boy Williamson Live In Europe  from Hip-O including "Sonny Boy Williamson," the Stockholm Sweden-produced film for Storyville Records in Denmark and the Jazz Prism TV show      from   Belgium are on  from Hip-O

Starter collections:  A good collection to begin with is The Essential Sonny Boy Williamson (2CDs) or His Best (1CD) or a good career retrospective is Harp From Deep South. Don't overlook the brilliant live AFBF recordings, my favorites. Also don't miss The Animals and The Yardbirds recordings, which are, at times, unpolished and prematurely recorded but surprisingly competant.Some of Sonny Boy's features are excellent.

Note: Chess a re-recorded eight Trumpet Records originals including "Eyesight To The Blind" (as "Born Blind"). The results were often strikingly different. All of Sonny Boy's recordings for Chess Records were released on their Checker label.

Sonny Boy's Lonesome Cabin

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 All currently being edited and updated..

  • A detailed discography covering over 50 full-length records, some very rare, by Sonny Boy plus numerous singles and 78's
  • A list of all versions of all songs known to have been recorded by him.
  • A discussion of his unique and moving harp style, with sample audio files.
  • A collection of rare photos.
  • A page of links to related resources and publications. Don't overlook this lively and informative section which introduces you to many of Sonny Boy's closest friends, peers and followers as well as gives you a brief history of Delta Blues History.

Whether you are a long-term Sonny Boy fan seeking an elusive recording or a budding harmonica player hoping to pick up a few tips from the maestro, we hope you find this site useful and interesting. If you have any suggestions or comments, please feel free to send us an e-mail at sonnyboy@donoghue.com before you go. 

Tell us what country you are from, your relationship to Sonny Boy and or how his music has changed your.

'fessor Mojo AKA Bill Donoghue.

**************************************** PERSONAL STORIES AND REFERRALS INVITED ...

Tell us your Sonny Boy Williamson stories - everyone has them.

Everybody who ever met Sonny Boy can tell you about him and what happened when they met him. He was one of a kind. On the other hand, those thave have discovered his musi since he died in 1965, can only speak of how his lonesome moving harmonica, his lyrics or his blues singing touched them and sometimes their music.

'fessor Mojo AKA Bill Donoghue, Host, www.sonnyboy.com can be reached at fessormojo@yahoo.com

Author, Don't Start Me To Talkin' (Preview of Sonny Boy's Bio) Available on Amazon.com

Sonny Boy is buried in Tutwiler MS next to the remains of the Whitfiield Baptist Church where it is rumor that Sonny Boy preached back in the 1930 and where his funeral was held. Sonny Boy's last two sisters Mary Ashford and Julia Barner are buried nearby. I personally visited the two sisters about three months before the fire in which they perished. The gravesite is overseen by and ta clinic is run a nun, Sister Dr. Anne Brooks who also runs The Tutwiler Medical Clinic. Visit The Sonny Boy Club www.SonnyBoyClub.com and consider donation to this worthy cause.

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Original Chees

Sonny Boy Williamson was a prolific recording artist, recording from 1951 for Trumpet Records in Jackson, through his 1955-1964 recordings for Chess in America and 1963-65 in the studio for Storyville and live on the American Folk Blues Festival for L+R and in 1963-1964 live with the Yardbirds, the Animals and a jam with Jimmy Page through his final informal recording of a "King Biscuit Time" radio show in Helena for Arhoolie.

Don't be deceived with the Chess cover photos which captured him at a much later time in life than the music captured within. Such combinations, along with the photo of an anonymous street bum (certainly not the dapper Rice Miller) on the cover of his 1959 classic "Down and Out Blues" on Chess, reinforced his claim that he was "born in 1897 in a little town, Glendora Mississippi."

After several attempts at early recording contracts and a highly successful and influential radio show, "King Biscuit Time" on KFFA in Helena Arkansas, starting in late 1941, he was first signed and recorded by Lillian McMurry of the Diamond Record Company, Jackson, Mississippi in December 1950.

Mrs. McMurry was unaware of his history during his lifetime and knew him as Willie 'Sonny Boy' Williamson the remainder of his life. It was only after he died that she knew of "King Biscuit Time." He recorded a series of 78 and 45 RPM discs followed on the Trumpet label, including the classic "Eyesight To The Blind" featured in Tommy, The Who's rock opera. Some of these have been included in compilations by Arhoolie, Blue Moon and Alligator Records.

When Diamond was essentially forced out of the increasingly competitive record business 1955. First presented to Diamond's pressing plant owner as partial settlement of their bill (Diamond did NOT got bankrupt) and later sold to Chicago's Chess Records, where he was reunited with his fellow King Biscuit Entertainer alumni, Robert Lockwood Jr., and recorded a substantial body of work by him over the next ten years. Released on the Checker and Chess labels, these recordings include Sonny Boy's most widely known performances.

During both his Trumpet and Chess periods, he made sideman appearances with such artists as Tampa Red, Josh White, Baby Boy Warren, Rahsaan Roland Kirk. Charles Clark, The Skunks and King Biscuit Boys Dudlow Tayor and Peck Curtis and others. Sonny Boy continued to record for Chess until his death, recording over 70 tracks for them, despite numerous spats with Leonard Chess, some of which were caught on tape ("Little Village")-- to the amusement of generations of Sonny Boy fans and irritation of sideman Robert Lockwood Jr..

Sonny Boy toured Europe with the 1963 and 1964 editions of the American Folk Blues Festival. The result included, along the way, live sessions with the Animals and the Eric Clapton-led Yardbirds (precursors of the later "In London" albums by Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley), a series of excellent live Festival performances and a moving and spare marathon one-night recording session for Storyville Records (his first true "album" session) where his harp virtuosity was allowed to express its full and mournful sound in stark contrast. Conducted in Copenhagen, Denmark over 20 new, previously recorded songs were, apparently written in a short time or in the studio, recorded.

Sonny Boy Williamson II (Alex "Rice" Miller) died on May 25, 1965 (although his grave marker erroneously reads "June 23, 1965") and he was laid to "rest" just outside of Tutwiler Miss. In front of his gravemarker is an indentation and, in many continually surprising ways, his unstoppable spirit is still very much of this world! On the other hand, I have heard four disturbingly similar and independently reported accounts of sightings of his ghost in the past few years..

The following discography includes all Sonny Boy's major recordings, but it is far from complete. We would appreciate any corrections or information about missing material. (Send us an e-mail -- all contributions will be acknowledged.)

TRUMPET RECORDINGS

STORYVILLE RECORDINGS

COMPILATIONS

MISCELLANEOUS

* ESSENTIAL COLLECTIONS

(Tailor to fit your budget or add to your "wish list.")