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This is Sonny Boy Williamson II, a man who, throughout his life, was a master of misinformation. He was an inveterate liar who even maintained that he was the original Sonny Boy Williamson – rather than the original who recorded two decades earlier and whose name was John Lee Williamson. However, Sonny Boy's liberal way with the truth, and his desire to confuse and confound should in no way detract from his talent. He was an inspiration and a wonderful Blues singer and arguably an even better harmonica player. "We used to call him Little Boy Blue. He had a belt with all his harmonicas in, and used to wear it round his waist. That was around 1932." – Homesick James Sonny Boy Williamson hobo'd around the Deep South he used the name, Little Boy Blue, and it was after him that Mick Jagger and Keith Richards' named their first band in 1961 – Little Boy Blue & The Blue Boys. He was a giant, not just of the harmonica, but also as a composer and performer. Sonny Boy commanded attention on stage, and it is clear that he had a presence even larger than his 6ft wiry frame. Quite simply he was one of the most charismatic performers in the whole blues genre. His recording debut was for the Trumpet label in Jackson Mississippi in 1951. He later played harmonica on Elmore James's classic, Dust My Broom and by 1955 his contract had been 'sold on' to Chess Records. His first sides for Checker, included Don't Start Me Talkin', featuring Muddy Waters, Otis Spann, Jimmy Rogers, Willie Dixon and Fred Below; it made No.3 on the R&B chart in 1955. Later Keep It To Yourself and Help Me also made the R&B charts. The former two tracks can be heard on his 1959 album, Down and Out Blues which also includes the quintessential, Fattening Frogs For Snakes. To give you a great overview of his career, Blues Greats – Sonny Boy Williamson is a great place to start. In 1963 he was included in the American Folk Blues Festival that toured Europe and he became much loved in Britain, where he recorded with The Yardbirds, with Eric Clapton, and The Animals having decided to stay behind to work solo for a year. He returned to the USA in 1965, but talked of returning to Britain; it was not to be – the harmonica wizard and raconteur died in his sleep in May 1965.
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