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Mon, 03.30.1914

Sonny Boy Williamson, Blues Musician born

Sonny Boy Williamson

*Sonny Boy Williamson was born on this date in 1914. He was a Black blues musician.

From Jackson, Tennessee, he was also known as John Lee Williamson. Williamson acquired his nickname because of the young age at which he began performing; during those early years, he traveled the South, sometimes in the company of his biggest influence, Sleepy John Estes, Robert Nighthawk, and others.  In the late 1930s, he moved to Chicago, where he worked as a session player and became an influential and successful mainstay of the city's blues scene as a performer and recording artist.

Sonny Boy Williamson's innovative skill with the harmonica brought it to center stage as a lead instrument in Chicago blues. He also popularized the "call and response" performance technique with the instrument, delivering a vocal line, answering with his characteristically sharp harp riffs followed by another vocal delivery.  The essential song that he performed were "Good Morning Little Schoolgirl," "Early in the Morning," "Whiskey-Headed Woman Blues," and "Shake that Boogie.”

He is credited with composing many original songs that became blues standards, especially for the harmonica.  He influenced a long line of superb harmonica players, including Junior Wells, Little Walter, and Rice Miller, also known as Sonny Boy Williamson II.  Sonny Boy Williamson died in Chicago, Illinois, on June 1, 1948.

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