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Sonny Boy Williamson

John Lee Curtis "Sonny Boy" Williamson (March 30, 1914 – June 1, 1948) was an American blues harmonica player, singer and songwriter. He is often regarded as the pioneer of the blues harp as a solo instrument. He played on hundreds of recordings by many pre–World War II blues artists. Under his own name, he was one of the most recorded blues musicians of the 1930s and 1940s and is closely associated with Chicago producer Lester Melrose and Bluebird Records. His popular songs, original or adapted, include "Good Morning, School Girl", "Sugar Mama", "Early in the Morning", and "Stop Breaking Down".

Williamson's harmonica style was a great influence on postwar performers. Later in his career, he was a mentor to many up-and-coming blues musicians who moved to Chicago, including Muddy Waters. In an attempt to capitalize on Williamson's fame, Aleck "Rice" Miller began recording and performing as Sonny Boy Williamson in the early 1940s, and later, to distinguish the two, John Lee Williamson came to be known as Sonny Boy Williamson I or "the original Sonny Boy".

Birth and Death Data: Born March 30, 1914 (Jackson), Died June 1, 1948 (Chicago)

Date Range of DAHR Recordings: 1937 - 1951

Roles Represented in DAHR: vocalist, composer, harmonica, piano, speaker

Notes: His compositions are often credited under his real name, John Lee Williamson.

= Recordings are available for online listening.
= Recordings were issued from this master. No recordings issued from other masters.

Recordings (Results 1-25 of 147 records)

Company Matrix No. Size First Recording Date Title Primary Performer Description Role Audio
Victor BS-07649 10-in. 5/5/1937 Good morning, school girl Sonny Boy Williamson Male vocal solo, with harmonica and 2 guitars vocalist, composer  
Victor BS-07650 10-in. 5/5/1937 Blue bird blues Sonny Boy Williamson Male vocal solo, with harmonica and 2 guitars vocalist, composer  
Victor BS-07651 10-in. 5/5/1937 Jackson blues Sonny Boy Williamson Male vocal solo, with harmonica and 2 guitars vocalist, composer  
Victor BS-07652 10-in. 5/5/1937 Got the bottle up and gone Sonny Boy Williamson Male vocal solo, with harmonica and 2 guitars vocalist, composer  
Victor BS-07654 10-in. 5/5/1937 Skinny woman Sonny Boy Williamson Male vocal solo, with harmonica and 2 guitars vocalist, composer  
Victor BS-016518 10-in. 11/11/1937 Up the country blues Sonny Boy Williamson Male vocal solo, with guitar, piano, and harmonica vocalist, composer  
Victor BS-016519 10-in. 11/11/1937 Worried me blues Sonny Boy Williamson Male vocal solo, with harmonica and 2 guitars vocalist, composer  
Victor BS-016520 10-in. 11/11/1937 Black gal blues Sonny Boy Williamson Male vocal solo, with harmonica and 2 guitars vocalist  
Victor BS-016521 10-in. 11/11/1937 Collector man blues Sonny Boy Williamson Male vocal solo, with harmonica, guitar, and piano vocalist  
Victor BS-016522 10-in. 11/11/1937 Frigidaire blues Sonny Boy Williamson Male vocal solo, with harmonica and 2 guitars vocalist  
Victor BS-016523 10-in. 11/11/1937 Suzanna blues Sonny Boy Williamson Male vocal solo, with harmonica and 2 guitars vocalist  
Victor BS-016524 10-in. 11/11/1937 Early in the morning Sonny Boy Williamson Male vocal solo, with harmonica and 2 guitars vocalist  
Victor BS-016525 10-in. 11/11/1937 Project highway Sonny Boy Williamson Male vocal solo, with harmonica and 2 guitars vocalist  
Victor BS-020110 10-in. 3/13/1938 My little Cornelius Sonny Boy Williamson Male vocal solo, with harmonica, mandolin, and guitar vocalist, composer  
Victor BS-020111 10-in. 3/13/1938 Decoration blues Sonny Boy Williamson Male vocal solo, with harmonica, mandolin, and guitar composer, vocalist  
Victor BS-020112 10-in. 3/13/1938 You can lead me Sonny Boy Williamson Male vocal solo, with harmonica, mandolin, and guitar vocalist, composer  
Victor BS-020113 10-in. 3/13/1938 Moonshine Sonny Boy Williamson Male vocal solo, with harmonica, mandolin, and guitar vocalist, composer  
Victor BS-020114 10-in. 3/13/1938 Miss Louisa blues Sonny Boy Williamson Male vocal solo, with harmonica, mandolin, and guitar composer, vocalist  
Victor BS-020115 10-in. 3/13/1938 Sunny land Sonny Boy Williamson Male vocal solo, with harmonica, mandolin, and guitar vocalist, composer  
Victor BS-020116 10-in. 3/13/1938 I'm tired truckin' my blues away Sonny Boy Williamson Male vocal solo, with harmonica and guitar vocalist, composer  
Victor BS-020117 10-in. 3/13/1938 Down South Sonny Boy Williamson Male vocal solo, with harmonica, mandolin, and guitar composer, vocalist  
Victor BS-020118 10-in. 3/13/1938 Beauty parlor Sonny Boy Williamson Male vocal solo, with harmonica, mandolin, and guitar vocalist, composer  
Victor BS-020119 10-in. 3/13/1938 Until my love come down Sonny Boy Williamson Male vocal solo, with harmonica and guitar composer, vocalist  
Victor BS-020842 10-in. 6/17/1938 Honey bee blues Sonny Boy Williamson Male vocal solo, with harmonica, guitar, and piano vocalist, composer  
Victor BS-020843 10-in. 6/17/1938 My baby I've been your slave Sonny Boy Williamson Male vocal solo, with harmonica, guitar, and piano vocalist, composer  
(Results 1-25 of 147 records)

Citation

Discography of American Historical Recordings, s.v. "Williamson, Sonny Boy," accessed May 19, 2022, https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/116388.

Williamson, Sonny Boy. (2022). In Discography of American Historical Recordings. Retrieved May 19, 2022, from https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/116388.

"Williamson, Sonny Boy." Discography of American Historical Recordings. UC Santa Barbara Library, 2022. Web. 19 May 2022.

DAHR Persistent Identifier

URI: https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/116388

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