Monday, December 05, 2011

It's the Birthday of Aleck "Rice" Miller aka Sonny Boy Williamson II

His Best
Sonny Boy Williamson - His Best

Today could possibly be the birthday of one of my favorite bluesmen. Aleck "Rice" Miller aka Sonny Boy Williamson II. It is reported that before he died he commented that they broke the mold when he was born. All my reading and research on him indicates that he was truly one of a kind, so I think that was a true statement.

I'll leave it to you to read the Wikipedia article on him, it is well done and has some other cool links that you might enjoy checking out.

To me the most important part of his life was all the music that he made and the musicians that he inspired.

While tall tales, unlikely fables and outright lies make up much of what Sonny Boy Williamson II had to say about his own life, his most important contributions have been documented well through countless recordings on myriad labels. His output of recordings, both issued and unissued, for Lillian McMurray's Trumpet label, can be found on Arhoolie, Alligator, Purple Pyramid, Collectables, plus a handful of other domestic and import imprints, while his years as a resident of the Chess/Checker house appear on various compilations on MCA/Chess. His European recordings reside on Alligator, Analogue Productions, Storyville, and others.

Sonny Boy Williamson II has had an enormous influence on modern day blues and blues rock artists and other legendary artists, as is shown by the number of his songs that are still covered.

  • Muddy Waters - "Nine Below Zero", "Decoration Day"
  • Howlin' Wolf - "Cool Disposition", "Decoration Day"
  • B. B. King - "Eyesight to the Blind"
  • Mose Allison - "Eyesight to the Blind"
  • John Mayall's Bluesbreakers - "Help Me", "Checkin' Up On My Baby"
  • Led Zeppelin - "Bring It on Home"
  • Van Morrison - "Take Your Hands Out of My Pocket", "Help Me" - both on the 1974 live album It's Too Late to Stop Now. Morrison has often sung "Help Me" in live performances throughout his long career.
  • The Allman Brothers Band - "One Way Out"
  • New York Dolls - "Don't Start me Talkin'"
  • Ten Years After - "Help Me"
  • The Who - "Eyesight to the Blind"
  • Aerosmith - "Eyesight to the Blind"
  • The Blues Brothers - "From the Bottom"
  • Cowboy Junkies - "Decoration Day"
  • Lester Butler - "I Cross My Heart"
  • Rory Gallagher - "Don't Start me Talkin"; both on the Defender album and the live bootleg, Meeting With The G-Man.
  • Nine Below Zero took their band name from his song.
  • The Downchild Blues Band, also known as "Downchild", took their name from his song, "Mister Downchild".[3]
  • John Popper of Blues Traveler notes Sonny Boy Williamson as a strong influence on his harmonica playing.
  • Joe Bonamassa - "Your Funeral and My Trial"
  • Dr. Feelgood - "Checking Up On My Baby" on their live album, Stupidity

Sonny Boy Williamson: Your Funeral and my trial

Sonny Boy Williamson 1964

Sonny Boy Williamson
Sonny Boy Williamson @SqueezeMyLemon

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