SONNY BOY WILLIAMSON II
(1910 - 1965)
aka: Rice Miller, Sonny Boy Williamson #2,
(born Aleck Miller, 1910, Glendora, Mississippi;
died May 25, 1965, Helena, Arkansas)
Boy Williamson was one of the most influential
harmonica players in blues history. Aside from
being a harp player who helped set the course of
modern blues, he was also a legendary blues character
whose colorful personality, unpredictable actions, and
frequent stretching of the truth only served to
enliven his blues with a rare, but warmly embraced,
Williamson's harp style
included intricately woven phrases, bold sonic
textures, trills and vibrato, a wide range of
dynamic passion, and a superb sense of timing.
He was also a effective showman -- he could, for
instance, put the entire harp in his mouth and still
More important, his playing made the harp the center
attraction, no matter how many
other great blues musicians shared the stage with
him. Yet Williamson was more than just a blues
harp genius and potent performer; he was also a
superb tunesmith. Many of his songs -- "One
Way Out," "Don't Start Me Talking," "Cross My
Heart," "Eyesight To The Blind," "Mighty Long Time,"
"Help Me," and "Nine Below Zero" -- are acknowledged
blues classics and staples in any serious blues
harmonica player's repertoire.
Williamson was also a
convincing singer and the blues' first radio
star. His daily performances on the Helena,
Arkansas, radio station KFFA in the 1940s, which
were heard throughout eastern Arkansas, western
Tennessee, and the Mississippi Delta, not only made
him a celebrity, but also influenced an entire
generation of blues musicians living in the region.
-- The Big Book of Blues: A
By Carl P.
McConnell talks about the Carter Family, Doc
Original Virginia Boys and the early days of