Sonny Boy Williamson | Greatest Harmonica Player of All Time
Sonny Boy Williamson – Live session in Sweden!
The tag “legendary” seems all too appropriate for the man known the world over as Sonny Boy Williamson II, born on December fifth in… 1894, 1897, 1889, 1901 & 1909 have all been given as the year of his birth at one time or another, a few by Sonny Boy himself. The consensus now is that 1912 is the most likely.
His given name has never been confirmed with any more certainty than his age; Alec or Alex or Willie; Rice which may have been a nickname or a last name; Miller or Ford have also been proposed as last names!
He was old enough to have known Robert Johnson and lived long enough, (and was successful enough) to have played with Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, and Robbie Robertson before he passed.
Given the possible years of his birth, and the region and circumstances into which he was born, it is most likely that he received little to no formal schooling growing up, yet his songs are highly original, featuring sly and often mordant humor, and stunning, sometimes surreal imagery, helping to make his songs some of the most often covered in the blues canon.
His appearances with the 1963 and 1964 American Folk Blues Festivals brought him to an entirely new audience in the U.K. where he influenced a generation of blues players. He would do the same back in the States in the mid-sixties.
Williamson’s first recordings were done for Trumpet Records, with his recorded debut released on the label in 1951.
He released eleven singles on the label between 1951 and 1954. When the label folded in 1955, creditors sold his contract to the Chess brothers and his first release on their Checker subsidiary was the classic ‘Don’t Start Me to Talkin’, now a blues standard.
This number was one of his later Trumpet singles; I have been unable to verify who the “Houserockers” were on this session, but they certainly lived up to their name.
Empty Bedroom by Sonny Boy Williamson and his Houserockers.