Sonny Boy Williamson II

As a child, John Lee Williamson - "Sonny Boy" because of his young age - gravitated towards Sleepy John Estes and his harmonica player Hammie Nixon in Brownsville and Memphis. Taking his cue from Nixon's harmonica playing and Estes' singing, "Sonny Boy" built up a strong local reputation before moving to Chicago in 1934. In 1937, he had the opportunity to record a memorable session with Robert Nighthawk and Big Joe Williams, including "Good Morning Little Schoolgirl", "Sugar Mama" and "Bottle Up And Go"! The success of Good Morning Little Schoolgirl led to frequent studio appearances. A master of Chicago blues. While his early records remained in the Estes-Nixon spirit, "Sonny Boy" gradually integrated a number of modern elements into his music, and by 1942 he was recording an electric orchestral Chicago blues, which served as a basis for Muddy Waters and Little Walter. His warm personality and rollicking compositions, which humorously dealt with everyday life in the black ghetto, established him as one of the great masters of Chicago blues, which he dominated with an iron fist, tolerating only disciples and not rivals. But it was perhaps his exceptional talents as a harmonica player that struck a chord with his contemporaries. "Sonny Boy" synthesizes everything that jug bands and innovators like Nixon had done before him, and brings new ideas (constant use of the second position) that definitively establish the harmonica within orchestral Chicago blues. Little Walter, Big Walter Horton, Junior Wells, Snooky Pryor, Forest City Joe and Billy Boy Arnold are just some of his disciples. And Rice Miller posed as "Sonny Boy Williamson" to profit from the success of the man who was then at the height of his popularity. On June 1, 1948, "Sonny Boy", who had dedicated one of his renditions to an admirer in the club where he was playing, was followed by his jealous husband, who murdered him with an ice pick.

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