"Mighty Long Time"
The Story of Sonny Boy Williamson
- by Craig Ruskey

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(Sonny Boy Williamson II - circa 1963)

So, do we know who he really was? Perhaps not, but more information has come to light in recent years concerning the man referred to as Sonny Boy Williamson II. He was born in, or near, Glendora, MS, and that is about all there is for fact. His birth date has been listed as December 5, either in 1894, 1897, 1899, 1901, or 1909, while March 11, 1908, is what his headstone reads, but his passport, in the name of Sonny Boy Williams, stated he was born on April 7, 1909. Bill Donoghue, who has been gathering information on Sonny Boy, retained blues scholar, Dr. David Evans, to search census records from 1920 which provided further clues ultimately pointing to December 5, 1912 as the actual date of his birth. Donoghue also reportedly talked with Miller's two sisters, Mary Ashford and Julia Barner, who stated the only musician in their family, which consisted of 21 siblings total, was their baby brother, "Alex," the name that appeared in the 1920 census. The date of his death seems to have been May 25, in 1965, but even that has met with conflict as his headstone erroneously marks his passing on June 23, while Bruce Iglauer's liner notes from an Alligator CD list it as being May 26. About all that is known for certain surrounding this man whose mysteries run as deep as those of his friend Robert Johnson, is that Sonny Boy Williamson died in 1965 in Helena, AR, then a small but growing Delta community.

He was the son of Millie Ford and Jim Miller, but his actual given name is still rather clouded. Aleck Ford, Aleck Miller, Alex Miller, Willie Miller, or Rice Miller were all possibilities, although his sisters were quick to point out that "Rice" was certainly his nickname. His childhood and adolescent years are almost a complete blur where very little is known, simply because it was something he emphatically refused to discuss when questioned, a subject curious writers learned to steer completely clear of when they interviewed him. However, when liquor flowed freely, he seemed quite willing to prattle on at great length, telling conflicting stories that he concocted for anyone interested.

He seems to have taken up playing the harmonica at a very early age, but following a heated battle at home, perhaps in 1927, Miller took to the road and by the mid-1930's was billing himself as Little Boy Blue when broadcasting over WEBQ in Illinois. In the late 1930's, he married Chester Burnett's sister, Mary, and Williamson was responsible for teaching his brother-in-law, the man known as Howlin' Wolf, the rudiments of harmonica. Miller regularly traveled throughout the Delta, and apparently quite a bit farther, with luminaries like Robert Johnson, Robert Nighthawk, Elmore James, Robert Jr. Lockwood, Honeyboy Edwards and many more. Juke joints, porches, street corners, storefronts, and Saturday night fish-fries were the theme of the day, and with him, his harps went too.

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(Little Boy Blue - earliest known photo of SBWII)

By the early 1940's, his popularity was on the rise due to the now-famed King Biscuit Time radio show on KFFA, an Arkansas station, where Miller found opportunities to strengthen his name and reputation. The Interstate Grocer Company sponsored the program in an effort to promote product, which included their brand of King Biscuit Flour. An interesting idea in marketing then presented itself, which, as Cub Koda wrote, became "one of the major ruses in blues history." It seems that Max Moore, one of Interstate Grocer's key figures, convinced Miller to begin using the name "Sonny Boy Williamson" on the show, hoping to capitalize on the popularity of an artist in Chicago. Miller's caricature was then emblazoned on sacks of Sonny Boy Meal, which saw him sitting atop a massive ear of corn, holding up his trusted harmonica. The original King Biscuit Flour and the new product touting his likeness, began selling in incredible quantities to the many families that listened to a show so popular, with Sonny Boy hawking his upcoming performances at local jukes, that many people recalled running from the fields they worked in, back to their small sharecropper homes in order to catch it from 12:15 to 12:30, a time slot it still holds today as the longest running blues radio show in history.

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(From left: Joe Willie Wilkins on guitar, Joe Willie "Pinetop" Perkins on piano, Sonny Boy Williamson II and announcer Hugh Smith at the microphone, James "Peck" Curtis on drums, and Houston Stackhouse on guitar on the King Biscuit Time program in the KFFA studio, 1944. Gladin Collection, Southern Media Archive, The University of Mississippi.)

This marketing ploy and name-switch proved to create a bit of a small problem for both Miller and the Interstate Grocer wizards since the 'real' Sonny Boy, born John Lee Williamson in Jackson, TN, in 1914, resided in Chicago. John Lee was a largely successful recording artist who had been cutting 78 rpm blues disks for the RCA/Bluebird labels since the late 1930's. The Windy City resident does seem to have made a few paltry attempts to rectify the situation, but refusing to stray too far from his Chicago surroundings, there was little to do in the way of putting an end to the confusion. John Lee might also have been the brains behind an interesting decision by Big Joe Williams, when he cut a rousing version of "King Biscuit Stomp" in 1947, which was based solely on the product being marketed in the South. Enlisting none other than Sonny Boy I to accompany him for the session, Big Joe's track was an obvious attempt at revenge, but it's a safe bet that it also sold even more of Interstate Grocer's product. Houston Stackhouse stated in an interview with Jim O'Neal that John Lee did make at least one trip South in an attempt to put an end to the misuse of his name, but there may have been some additional confusion as to whether Miller was using the name Sonny Boy Williamson, or possibly Williams, at the time. Whatever the actual case, the difficulties ultimately came to rest in 1948, when John Lee Williamson was murdered in a street robbery while walking home from an engagement at the Plantation, a popular blues nightspot in Chicago. Miller then became, as he stated, "the original Sonny Boy Williamson."

Williamson didn't confine his chances to reach wider audiences by working at one radio station, he also employed himself as a personality selling patent 'medicines' such as Talaho and Hadacol through the 1940's, occasionally hiring Elmore James and his increasing guitar talents. Recording half-hour spots from a drug store run by O.J. Turner in Belzoni, the shows would be broadcast at a later date in towns like Greenville and Yazoo City, where Turner hoped to find more consumers. Following a two-year run with Talaho, where he would play blues during the week and sing Gospel music on Sundays, Williamson packed and moved his operations to West Memphis and began a stint promoting Hadacol on KWEM, a station where Howlin' Wolf would later find gainful employment as a musician while promoting farm implements.

In his later years, Rice claimed to have recorded as early as the 1930's, but no evidence of these assertions has been proven, although a number of artists who were working for Ralph Lembo in the pre-war years did recall him showing up at more than one session. His first chance to record seems to have been shortly after Lillian McMurray found him living at a boarding house in Belzoni, a Mississippi community close to Jackson, where she and her husband ran a successful furniture business. With some background experience operating record outlets, McMurray decided to start her own label, which she christened Trumpet. Inking his contract with McMurray's new venture by using the name of Willie "Sonny Boy" Williamson, he began working for the logo in 1951. Their relationship lasted through 1954 and in that time he produced many gems which include Nine Below Zero, Stop Crying, the possibly autobiographical West Memphis Blues, and one of the finest recordings in his extensive catalog, Mighty Long Time, a slow and mournful, tremendously moving blues where his abilities as an insightful lyricist become readily apparent in the third verse where he sings:

"Been so long, the carpet have faded on the floor. (2X)
If she ever come back to me, I'm not gonna let her leave no more."


In Pontiac Blues, while in the company of a woman, he seemed determined to keep tabs on his competition:

"We gonna drive out on the highway, turn the bright lights off.
Oh, drivin' on the highway, cut the bright lights off.
We gonna turn the radio on and get music from up the north."


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(Trumpet Records - publicity photo - early 1950s)

Along with Elmore James, Arthur Crudup (as Elmer James), Willie Love, Tiny Kennedy, Jerry McCain, and a handful of other greats, Trumpet Records managed some incredible sessions which can be found on numerous imprints. The sides by Sonny Boy all seem to have a sense of reckless abandon, skills sharpened to a razor's edge and a swinging, insistent groove, whether the pace was brisk or slowed to a crawl. Williamson was also responsible for adding his harmonica to an interesting release on the imprint in 1952, which coupled Elmore James' initial recording of "Dust My Broom on one side, while the other was a stirring rendition of Catfish Blues, performed by the mysterious Bobo Thomas. The cream of Williamson's recordings for Trumpet appear on the excellent Arhoolie "King Biscuit Time" CD, which also features an actual thirteen minute recorded broadcast from the KFFA studios in 1965. The small band rolls through V-8 Ford plus three additional tunes where Sonny Boy's advancing age has little impact on either his enthusiasm or sparse, rhythmic harp flourishes. While it is known to be Peck Curtis who supplies the chaotic drumming, questions linger as to whether Joe Willie Wilkins or Houston Stackhouse provided the down-home guitar on the date. (*see information at end of article.)

Sonny Boy's contract with Trumpet was later sold to Buster Williams, from Memphis, who ran his own pressing plant. Williams had hopes of starting a label, which might have been the reason Sonny Boy was bumped from McMurray's roster, or perhaps because she saw a better financial opportunity for herself by reaping the benefits of a quick cash infusion, following the lease of a pair of tracks to Johnny Vincent's Ace label. Financial problems were a factor to some degree with Trumpet, but McMurray avoided bankruptcy, and when Buster Williams' plans fell through, Sonny Boy's contract then became the property of Leonard Chess in Chicago, and Williamson was primed for a move to the North.

Miller had left his second wife, Mattie, on a couple of previous occasions landing in Detroit in 1954, where he guested on four recordings by Baby Boy Warren which appeared in Detroit on Joe Von Battle's JVB label, Ernie Young's Excello imprint from Louisiana, and Al Benson's Blue Lake out of Chicago. Baby Boy was an accomplished guitarist and fine singer, and these sides, featuring Sonny Boy's amplified harp work, something he rarely offered, are especially interesting. It is also worth noting that, throughout it all, with or without Williamson around, the King Biscuit Time radio program carried on, due in large part to the number of musicians who regularly appeared on the broadcasts; Robert Jr. Lockwood, Pinetop Perkins, Willie Love, Houston Stackhouse, and others.

Williamson began his long association with the Chess brothers, Leonard and Phil, in the summer of 1955, waxing a number of titles at his maiden session, but it was the single Don't Start Me Talkin' which put him on the map as a Chicago bluesman. Reuniting with his old Delta running mate and King Biscuit sideman, Robert Jr. Lockwood, Williamson's recordings on Checker, an offshoot of Chess, did well enough for the artist to return on numerous occasions as he continued to produce powerful recordings, some showing his brusque and irascible nature to great effect. Willie Dixon and other Chess/Checker players recalled him being sarcastic and cantankerous just as often as not, and the evidence appeared when the Chess label began its 'Vintage' LP series over thirty years ago. Thankfully, someone at the Chess Studios seemed to realize the importance of recorded conversations between Williamson and his producer in the control booth, and for those uninitiated, listening to the track Little Village on the MCA/Chess "Bummer Road" CD, is an absolute necessity. The cut survived untouched and goes on for just over twelve minutes, with false starts, restarts, and the sidesplitting 'discussion' between artist and producer, who proceed to swear up a storm at each other arguing about the size of a town or village, and even finds Williamson including Leonard's mother in the verbal fisticuffs!

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(The Chess Brothers - Leonard & Phil)

An important part of this discussion is how Sonny Boy's music changed over time once he became a Chicago label resident. Stylistically, his recordings for Trumpet are what can be considered "down-home." He was surrounded by musicians who grew up in, and were also influenced heavily by what they heard around the Delta. Dudlow Taylor and Willie Love's piano accompaniment were the epitome of juke-joint playing, as was the drumming of Peck Curtis and Junior Blackmon, or the guitar work of J.V. Turner and Joe Willie Wilkins. Upon his move to Chicago though, the musicians Williamson recorded with were certainly playing a more urban form of blues. While Robert Jr. Lockwood was raised and played in the same Delta locales as Sonny Boy, his guitar playing changed dramatically over time once in Chicago. He began using jazz inflections much more than other blues guitarists in the city, which in turn, helped change Williamson's sound as a whole. Sonny Boy still wrote with the same keen sense he had while making records in Jackson, and his harmonica work seems not to have changed at all, but by playing with the likes of Fred Below and his powerful jazz-influenced drumming, Lockwood's ever-evolving guitar voicings, Luther Tucker's defined urban approach, or Leonard Chess and Willie Dixon's advice and assistance on nearly everything he waxed, his sound was reshaped to reflect the large city influence. Comparing tracks cut for McMurray's label in the early 1950's, or those re-done on Checker from the early 1960's, such as Nine Below Zero, it is readily apparent that Williamson's music was taking on more of a harsh and urbanized quality.

As a writer, Sonny Boy Williamson, was without question, one of the finest to ever craft songs, not only in the blues idiom, but in general. The importance of men like Muddy Waters, Little Walter, or Howlin' Wolf, is cemented firmly in place from their incredible contributions to blues, but while Waters relied on his sexual prowess through tracks like "Hoochie Coochie Man or Mannish Boy, and Little Walter sang of lost love in Blues With A Feeling and Last Night, or while Wolf expressed his attraction to various women through Shake For Me or Hidden Charms, the work of Sonny Boy was completely different. He certainly sang of the opposite sex and nearly every other subject, but what set him apart, and so far apart from any of his contemporaries, was his ability to take events of everyday life, that could otherwise seem boring and mundane, and shape them into completed works of utter brilliance. In Don't Lose Your Eye, he warned:

"Don't lose your eye, man to spite your face.
I don't want you to lose no eye, man to spite your face,
because the people, steady snitchin' on you,
can't hide at no place."


The grinding, slow blues of Keep Your Hands Out Of My Pocket, first issued on an import Flyright LP in the 1970's, offered more advice:

"You know I heard about your racket,
the day I dropped in your town.
If you don't keep your hand out of my pocket,
I'm gonna have you taken down."


Let Your Conscience Be Your Guide, Unseen Eye, and many more Checker cuts are absolutely stunning in the imagery created through the close watch of one who paid attention to every detail that life dealt with, and all offer his rasping, muscular harmonica which differed greatly from other Chicago practitioners. While Little Walter Jacobs, Big Walter Horton, and other Windy City players were blowing the roofs off clubs by plugging directly into amplifiers, Sonny Boy made everyone sit up and take notice by using the vocal microphone, which in turn, gave his harmonica work a sound that perfectly matched his pungent vocals.

Sonny Boy and Mattie later called Milwaukee home, but Williamson was playing with Robert Jr. Lockwood for an extended period during the early 1960's, in Cleveland, where Lockwood had taken up residence. During thinner times, when opportunities for engagements in Chicago or the suburbs didn't seem to be panning out quickly enough, Williamson thought nothing of packing his bags for a trip back to his old stomping grounds in the Delta. He'd wind up back in Arkansas, walk into the KFFA studios, announce his arrival, and would be fronting the short radio program within a day, reuniting with his friends who still lived in the area. But things would begin to change again for this country-born harmonica wizard.

In 1963, Sonny Boy made his first trek overseas as part of a package tour with Memphis Slim, Matt Murphy, and others, playing London, Denmark, Paris, or various cities throughout Europe. Numerous recordings survive from this era, and show a return to the more down-home style he was known for in the early 1950's, but just as many find him paired with the Yardbirds or Eric Burdon's Animals, where Williamson would match the rocking British youngsters, blow for blow. Sonny Boy was treated with kid gloves, as were other visiting bluesmen, and saw nearly every whim attended to by throngs of faithful followers. He was certainly better off financially than he had been prior to these journeys, but in a humorous story, Willie Dixon recalled returning to a hotel one night and smelling the distinct aroma of downhome cooking wafting through the hallway on their floor. Dixon found Sonny Boy, against hotel policy and regulations, saving a few dollars by making use of a hot-plate he'd come into possession of, cooking up some soul food in his room.

Williamson took a liking to the European fans, as did many other blues artists, and on his return in 1964, he'd had a custom-made, two-tone suit tailored personally for him, making sure to purchase a bowler hat, matching umbrella, and an attaché case for his harmonicas, which completed the outfit. Proving that old adage, "you can take the man out of the country, but you can't take the country out of the man," there are a number of pictures from these years which show Williamson dressed to the nines, sporting the famous suit and a pair of well-shined, but more-than-slightly-battered shoes. Perhaps not wanting to return to his familiar Delta or Chicago roots, one of his final recordings from England, in 1964, found him singing I'm Trying To Make London My Home with Hubert Sumlin providing the guitar.


Sonny Boy was not the only bluesman to find the surroundings of Europe appealing; Champion Jack Dupree, Eddie Boyd, Memphis Slim, and many more became expatriates living abroad. Williamson had even gone as far as applying for citizenship in London, but he would leave again, possibly because his visa had expired, although other circumstances might well have been the reason. Why then, after finding so much success in Europe, did this man come home to the Mississippi Delta of his childhood, a place he returned to again and again, throughout his lengthy life? To those like Stackhouse and Peck Curtis, who knew him best, and perhaps those whom Williamson trusted more than any others in his life, this would be his final visit back home.

Upon his return to the Delta, and due to his many years of relating convoluted, fictional accounts of his life to friends and family, many found it hard to fathom that Sonny Boy had been across the Atlantic, visiting Europe, seeing the Eiffel Tower, Big Ben, or other landmarks, and indeed, recording there. He just as easily could have inserted any city or town in where he mentioned locations like London or Paris and it wouldn't have made any difference to most who listened to his stories. Those who saw him as a rambler and juke-joint performer, one constantly on the move, found it hard to accept that he'd become a hero and highly respected blues artist on another continent, regardless of how sharp he looked in his hand-crafted European clothing.

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(Shortly before his death - photo by Chris Strachwitz)

Calling on friends like Stack, Peck, or Joe Willie Wilkins, Sonny Boy asked them to take him around to many of his old haunts in the area. One particular day, he spent an entire afternoon on the banks of a river with his fishing rod, staring into the water, and had hardly spoken but a few words, according to a story Stackhouse had relayed from Carrie Wilkins, the wife of his old friend, Joe Willie. Williamson, Stackhouse, and Peck still played the King Biscuit Time show on KFFA, and managed some performances around Helena, but those few and very close friends knew the reason Williamson had come home, and indeed, wanted to see the memories of his early years. His days were closing in on him and it was time for him to move on to the last chapter in his life, to be in a place so far removed from the booming city of Chicago or the cultured locations in Europe he loved so much... he had returned home to be with his friends for one last time before he would die, something he seemed to know was imminent.

As Houston Stackhouse and Peck Curtis waited at the KFFA studios for their friend on May 25, 1965, the 12:15 broadcast time was closing in and Sonny Boy was nowhere in sight. Peck left the radio station and headed out to locate Williamson, figuring the most likely place to find him would be the rooming house where he'd taken up residence. Sonny Boy Williamson had gone to sleep the night before and Peck Curtis found him, in bed, finally at rest. He'd gone peacefully in his slumber from an apparent heart attack.

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(L to R - Stackhouse/SBW/Peck - photo by Chris Strachwitz)

The importance of Sonny Boy Williamson was well described by Ace Atkins in the book, Crossroad Blues, where the novel's main character describes a location in Tutwiler, MS.

"This is where it all began," Nick said. "The home of the blues. Over there is where Handy first heard a field hand playin' slide. He was just waitin' for a train and heard this weird music. Now it really started from God knows where, maybe Dockery Farms, but this is where a man really took a good listen. Wrote the lyrics and structure down. And right there, you see those murals?"
He punched on his high beams to hit the back of the deserted storefronts. Painted on the brick walls were five colored murals. "That one right there is the one I told you about. Sonny Boy Williamson rising from the grave."

It was a dark mural of the famous harp player halfway out of the ground. A Second Coming-type image.


While Crossroad Blues may well be a fictional story, the fact that Sonny Boy Williamson makes an appearance is no less important. Levon Helm also shares his memories of Rice Miller in This Wheel's On Fire, and although Helm's book deals primarily with The Band, in earlier years Levon was a part of Ronnie Hawkins' group, the Hawks, an outfit that tracked Williamson down for the expressed purpose of playing a supporting role to the harmonica man in a local juke-joint.

How influential Alex "Rice" Miller, or Sonny Boy Williamson II, and John Lee "Sonny Boy I" Williamson were, is best exemplified by showing how popular the name itself was to other performers in the same era, a situation that led to much confusion for researchers and discographers. The Decca label featured Enoch Williams, a jazz vocalist in the 1940's, who first recorded as Sonny Boy Williams, and later in his post-war offerings as Sunny Williams. From Shreveport, LA, came Jeffrey Williamson, who was tagged as Sonny Boy Williamson on his Ram recordings in 1958, while Nashville also sported their own Sonny Boy Williams, an artist who recorded for Duplex in the late 1950's, and even Joe Hill Louis, who found his 1953 sides on Meteor issued under the name Chicago Sunny Boy.

Williamson's influence on blues resonates loudly, even today, more than three decades after his death. There are many practitioners playing blues currently who were directly influenced by both Williamson and his noted student, Howlin' Wolf; James Harman, Kim Wilson, Sugar Ray Norcia, and many more proudly carry the tradition on, and those who copy the approach of these modern stylists are taking indirect lessons from Miller. While his stamp as a harp player still rings, his 'creative stories' reverberate almost as loudly while efforts continue in trying to distinguish fact from fiction. He claimed he was the "original" Sonny Boy, while there was clearly another who preceded him in the recording field, but exactly when he began using the moniker has never been solidified. It is also still unclear as to whether he was telling the truth when he mentioned to numerous individuals that Robert Johnson died in his arms in 1938. Although no concrete proof of this claim has come to the surface, many bluesmen active during that period remembered Sonny Boy as the one responsible for first relaying the information of the Delta blues legend's tragic death, so it seems possible that he was one of the first to know.

While tall tales, fibs, or mysteries were a part of Sonny Boy Williamson II throughout his life, his most important contributions have been documented well through countless recordings on myriad labels. His output of recordings, both issued and unissued, for Lillian McMurray's Trumpet label, can be found on Arhoolie, Alligator, Purple Pyramid, Collectables, plus a handful of other domestic and import imprints, while his years as a resident of the Chess/Checker house appear on various compilations on MCA/Chess. His European recordings reside on Alligator, Analogue Productions, Storyville, and others. Each one of his titles holds something mystical, magical, or miraculous. Perhaps it's the untouched, earthy quality of his harmonica playing, or the sly and humorous wit he always wrote with, while it may also be his voice, sounding as if he'd needed a drink of water for days, but refused to take one.

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(Storyville EP kindly provided by Alan Balfour)

The life of Alex "Rice" Miller, or Sonny Boy Williamson II, has yet to be completely documented, and considering the many unsolved pieces of the puzzle that remain, unraveling what is left will be a difficult task. He has been written about at length, and what is known about him can be found in the liner notes to his existing LP's and CD's, or numerous books where he is covered in good detail, but for every fact that is known about this man, there are indeed many more mysteries that seem forever lost to time.

Copyright © - 2002 by Craig Ruskey
(Not to be downloaded, reprinted, republished, or quoted without written consent of the author)

Special thanks to Alan Balfour for providing invaluable assistance, information, and objective views in the preparation of this article and to Chris Smith for providing information on Houston Stackhouse and Joe Willie Wilkins.

[*] While "Blues Records 1943-70" lists the guitarist on the 1965 KFFA broadcast as Houston Stackhouse, recording details which accompany the Arhoolie "King Biscuit Time" CD credit Joe Willie Wilkins.

The following information was provided by Chris Smith on March 7, 2002:

Not for certain, but the famous picture of the King Biscuit Entertainers (sic) that Strachwitz took on that visit to Arkansas shows Sonny Boy, Peck Curtis, and Stackhouse. This doesn't in itself prove anything, but in Fred D. Hay, 'Goin' Back to Sweet Memphis' (Athens, University of Georgia Press, 2001), Stackhouse talks, in a 1972 interview, about that picture, and says, "Cut me and Peck out... (Stackhouse is referring to being cut out of the picture as it appears on the sleeve of Blues Classics LP 9) He got me to go up to the station and play the program with him that day. I [sic] tried to tape that down."

This suggests to me that it's Stackhouse on the KFFA broadcast. Joe Willie Wilkins was also present and being interviewed by Hay on that occasion in 1972, so one might expect him to have said something if he'd been the guitarist.

When asked "Are you on that record?" [Blues Classics 9] Stackhouse replies, "I don't know if I'm on that record or not. Maybe, I don't know. But it seems that just Joe Willie and them, that record there."

However, this was 1972, and he's again talking about the Blues Classics LP, which didn't include the KFFA broadcast.


References:

1) Ace Atkins - "Crossroad Blues" - (St. Martin's Press/Minotaur Books - 1998)
2) Alan Balfour - Elmore James Biography -
http://www.novia.net/~cedmunds/elmore/ejsoulb.htm
3) Bill Donoghue - Sonny Boy Williamson website - www.sonnyboy.com
4) Erlewine/Bogdanov/Woodstra/Koda - "All Music Guide To Blues 2nd Edition" - (Miller Freeman Books - 1999)
5) Fred D. Hay - "Goin' Back To Sweet Memphis (Athens, University of Georgia Press 2001)
6) Bruce Iglauer - "Keep It To Ourselves" - (Alligator CD 4787 - 1990)
7) Leadbitter/Fancourt/Pelletier - "Blues Records 1943-70 Vol. 2 L-K" (Record Information Services, 1994). Revised draft entry kindly supplied by Leslie Fancourt.
8) Jim O'Neal & Amy van Singel (Editors) - "The Voice of the Blues" - (Routledge Press - 2002)
9) Mike Rowe - "Chicago Breakdown" - (Eddison Press - 1973)
10) Chris Smith - "Sonny Boy II, Don't Start Me Talkin'" (Juke Blues 45, Autumn1999) - "Excello Deep Harmonica Blues" - (Ace CDCHD 604 - 1998)

Suggested CD Listening:

Trumpet sides:

"King Biscuit Time" - Arhoolie
"I Ain't Beggin' Nobody" - Purple Pyramid
"Goin' In Your Direction" - Alligator
"Boppin' With Sonny" - Magnum

Checker recordings:

"One Way Out" - MCA/Chess
"Bummer Road" - MCA/Chess
"His Best" - MCA/Chess
"The Essential Sonny Boy Williamson" - MCA/Chess

European sessions:

"Keep It To Ourselves" - Alligator
"Portrait Of A Blues Man" - Analogue Productions

Discography and Bibliography