Who was/is Sonny Boy Williamson ? - CDs, Vinyl LPs, DVD and more

Sonny Boy Williamson

Although he wasn't on the cutting edge when it came to amplifying his harmonica, John Lee 'Sonny Boy' Williamson had no problem with bringing in an electric guitarist on his postwar RCA Victor sessions, keeping up with the times as Chicago blues got brasher and louder. The discographies claim that Big Bill Broonzy is the axeman on 1947's rollicking Better Cut That Out—a role Big Bill should have been accustomed to by then, since he'd first backed Sonny Boy in the studio in 1939.

Sonny Boy's place in the blues pantheon is a revered one. He was the first man to render the harmonica a full-fledged solo instrument with his boundlessly imaginative, instantly identifiable wailing. All of a sudden, even the local AFM had to bestow its seal of approval on the harmonica (prior to Sonny Boy's emergence, it was considered more of a novelty). "They found what harps could do, a man sellin' all them records," said the late Chicago pianist Sunnyland Slim. "Sonny Boy went down to the Club Georgia and all the people went down to see him, and the Unions put the harps in." 

He was so influential that a legion of disciples hung on his every note and a certain wizened harpist down in the Delta appropriated his name as his own (more about that rascal later). The original Sonny Boy was born March 30, 1914 in Jackson, Tennessee. In his mid-teens, he rambled with fellow bluesmen Yank Rachell and Sleepy John Estes. At 20 he came to the Windy City, and by 1937 Williamson was a member of A&R man Lester Melrose's recording stable. 

The young harpist made his first session for Bluebird as a leader in May of '37 in Aurora, Illinois (a Chicago suburb); among the fruits of his debut date was the classic Good Morning, School Girl. Williamson was responsible for introducing a fair amount of blues standards-to-be: Sugar Mama Blues, Blue Bird Blues, My Little Machine, Elevator Woman, and his 1947 hit Shake The Boogie to name a few.

Better Cut That Out was a hit for Sonny Boy as well, going to #15 R&B for a week near the end of 1948. Cut November 12 of the previous year with a Chicago band consisting of Broonzy, pianist Blind John Davis, bassist Ransom Knowling, and drummer Judge Riley, the infectious stop-time romp tragically turned out to be the last track Williamson ever cut. He died June 1, 1948 after being viciously beaten in the street—a devastating turn of events for 12-year-old Billy Boy Arnold, who had only recently received his first harmonica lessons from his idol.

"He was such a warm, friendly guy. He told me he'd teach me anything I needed to know," says Arnold. "The third time I came by his house, he had gotten murdered. He was a young guy. He was only 34 when he got killed. I didn't want to be a professional. I just wanted to learn how to do it. I said, 'All I want to do is learn how to play, make the sounds that he made.' And it just snowballed from there."


Bill Dahl
Chicago, Illinois


Electric Blues 1939-2005. - The Definitive Collection!

More information about Sonny Boy Williamson on
Sonny Boy Williamson: The Original (4-CD-Box)
Art-Nr.: CDJSP7797

Item in stock

(1937-39) (307:45/100) Restexemplare / Last copies.

Instead of:$29.25 * $18.66 *

Sonny Boy Williamson: More Real Folk Blues
Art-Nr.: CD579252

Item in stock

​1959-63 'Chess', 34:04/12. Japanese reissue of the original LP

$18.43 *

Sonny Boy Williamson: The Hunt - Little Vilage 7inch, 45rpm
Art-Nr.: REP23046

Item in stock

Massiv and electric BLUES STOMPER!

$12.58 *

Sonny Boy Williamson: Later Years (4-CD-Box)
Art-Nr.: CDJSP77101

Item in stock

(1939-47) (303:51/104) Restexemplare / Last copies.

$18.66 *

Sonny Boy Williamson: Down And Out Blues (LP, 180g Vinyl)
Art-Nr.: LPCAT147

Item in stock

(Not Now Music) 12 Tracks - Original Checker recordings 1955-1959!  The great blues musician Sonny Boy Williamson was on stage until 1965 and was able to come to Europe to influence the British blues boom. Sonny Boy made a name for herself in Great Britain...

$21.00 *

Sonny Boy Williamson: Real Folk Blues
Art-Nr.: CD579251

Item in stock

​1957-63 'Chess', 31:51/12. Japanese reissue of the original LP

$18.43 *

Sonny Boy Williamson: U.K. Blues (CD, Cut-Out)
Art-Nr.: CD0611302

Item in stock

(1963 'Fontana/BYG') (77:07/20) Seine beiden Live-Alben mit Eric Clapton und den Yardbirds bzw. Eric Burdons Animals / his European live sessions.

$11.64 *

Sonny Boy Williamson: The Best Of Sonny Boy Williamson (LP, 180g Vinyl, Ltd.)
Art-Nr.: LP6017003

Item in stock

(Storyville) 10 tracks - Remastered Re-issue on 180g vinyl of the original 1965 'Storyville' album - Free digital download of the album included

$35.04 *

Sonny Boy Williamson: Portrait Of A Blues Man
Art-Nr.: CDCAPR3017

Item in stock

(1963 'Storyville') (39:05/10) Überspielung von den Originalbändern / extremely fine sound quality, mastered from the original tapes.

$22.52 *

Sonny Boy Williamson: Down And Out Blues (LP)
Art-Nr.: LPRUM2011136

Item in stock

(2017/Rumble) 12 tracks.

$23.34 *

Sonny Boy Williamson: Down And Out Blues - In Memorium (CD)
Art-Nr.: CDBGO603

Item in stock

(1950s/60s 'Chess') (65:46/24). Two original LPs on one CD.

Instead of:$19.60 * $11.64 *

Sonny Boy Williamson: Keep It To Ourselves (LP, 180g Vinyl)
Art-Nr.: APB036

Item in stock

one of the most beautiful acoustic harmonica albums, ever, in superb quality. Limited 180 gram edition.

$58.44 *

Sonny Boy Williamson: Down & Out Blues
Art-Nr.: CD579250

Item in stock

1955-58 'Chess'​. 53:37/19. Japanese reissue of the original LP with 7 additional tracks .

$18.43 *

Sonny Boy Williamson: Goin' In Your Direction
Art-Nr.: CDAA801

Currently not available

(1951-54 'Trumpet') (42:04/15) Drei Takes erstmals erhältlich / three takes previously unreleased; Klasse Harmonica Blues / superb harmonica blues, from way down south w/ BOBO 'SLIM' THOMAS, WILLIE LOVE, ROBERT Jr.LOCKWOOD, B.B.KING, etc.

Instead of:$17.49 * $11.64 *

Sonny Boy Williamson & The Yardbirds: Live In London (CD)
Art-Nr.: CDLS42020

Currently not available

-& The Yardbirds (1963 London) (42:18/11)

$11.64 *

Sonny Boy Williamson: From The Bottom
Art-Nr.: CD250336

Currently not available

$18.43 *

Sonny Boy Williamson: One Way Out
Art-Nr.: CD579253

Currently not available

​1955-59 'Chess', 39:33/15. Japanese reissue of the original LP

$18.43 *

Sonny Boy Williamson: Bummer Road
Art-Nr.: CD34291

Currently not available

(1957-60 'Chess') (39:18/11) SONNY BOY WILLIAMSON - hca/voc, OTIS SPANN - pno, LAFAYETTE LEAKE - pno, ROBERT JR. LOCKWOOD - gtr, EDDIE KING MILTON - gtr, WILLIE DIXON - upright bass.

$11.41 *

Sonny Boy Williamson: Keep It To Ourselves
Art-Nr.: CDSCD4176

Currently not available

One of the greatest harmonica LPs of all times! SONNY BOY WILLIAMSON - hca/voc, MATT 'GUITAR' MURPHY - acoustic gtr. Special guests: MEMPHIS SLIM - pno, BILLIE STEPNEY - drums.

$21.94 *