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 Sonny Boy Williamson, II

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Sonny Boy Williamson, II

  • Original Name Aleck Ford Miller
  • Birth 11 Mar 1908 Tallahatchie County, Mississippi, USA
  • Death 23 Jun 1965 Helena, Phillips County, Arkansas, USA
  • Burial Tutwiler, Tallahatchie County, Mississippi, USA
  • Memorial ID 5341

Mystery surrounds the life and death of Sonny Boy Williamson II. The questions about Aleck Ford Miller begin on the day he was born, December 5, 1897 or 1899 or 1909 or March 11, 1908 near Glendora, Mississippi. Most records show that he died on May 25, 1965 in Helena, Arkansas. His headstone reads June 23, 1965. Why did he assume the name "Sonny Boy Williamson" after the death of another prominent harmonica player, John Lee "Sonny Boy" Williamson in 1948? Legend has it that the Interstate Grocery Company, sponsor of the "King Biscuit Time" radio show felt they could sell more flour with Miller posing as the Chicago harmonica star. After Williamson's death, Miller claimed he was the original "Sonny Boy." What is not a mystery is that he was a blues legend who began his career playing with Robert Johnson and lasted long enough to play with Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page. In between he drank a lot of whiskey, traveled the United States and Europe playing the blues with such greats as Robert Nighthawk, Robert Jr. Lockwood, Elmore James, Peck Curtis, Houston Stackhouse, Matt "Guitar"/"M.T." Murphy, The Animals and The Yardbirds. He was the star of KFFA's "King Biscuit Time," the first live blues radio show in America. He also found time to give harmonica lessons to his brother-in-law, Chester "Howlin' Wolf" Burnett. During his recording career with the Checker, Trumpet and Chess labels he waxed such blues classics as "Eyesight To The Blind," "Don't Start Me Talking," "One Way Out," "Let Me Explain" and "Fattening Frogs for Snakes." In 1965 he returned home to Mississippi then back to Helena, Arkansas where he resumed his starring role on the "King Biscuit" show. On May 25, 1965 when Sonny Boy did not show at the radio station for the daily broadcast, Peck Curtis went to his boarding house. There he found him dead of an apparent heart attack. Sonny Boy Williamson II was inducted into the Blues Foundation Hall of Fame in 1980.

Bio by: Jim Adams





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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 4 May 1999
  • Find A Grave Memorial 5341
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Sonny Boy Williamson, II (11 Mar 1908–23 Jun 1965), Find A Grave Memorial no. 5341, citing Whitfield Baptist Church Cemetery, Tutwiler, Tallahatchie County, Mississippi, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .