Song:Nine Below Zero
I know this is confusing but there were two blues musicians who played harmonica known as Sonny Boy Williamson. The better known of these two who recorded for Chess Records in the 50s and 60s is commonly known as Sonny Boy Williamson II. He was born Alex Ford. He claimed he was born in 1899 but evidence indicates that he was born Dec. 5, 1912 in Tallahatchie County, MS. He took his stepfather's name and was known as Aleck Miller. He left home in the early 30s and traveled the south with another blues legend Robert Junior Lockwood. At the time he was known as either Rice Miller or Little Boy Blue. Rice was a childhood nickname. In 1941 Miller was hired to appear on the King Biscuit Time radio show owned by King Biscuit Flour at KFFA tn Helena, AR. The real John "Sonny Boy" Williamson was already famous. King Biscuit started billing Miller as Sonny Boy Williamson to capitalize on that. They both play harmonica. Who knew the difference? His blues musician pals still called him Rice Miller. After the original Williamson died in 1948, Miller used the Sonny Boy Williamson name from that point. He continued to appear on the radio and first recorded in 1951 for Trumpet Records. When they went bankrupt in 1955, Williamson's contract was sold to Chess and he recorded for Checker Records until his 1965 death. Williamson had modest success on the R & B charts. Don't Start Me To Talkin' was probably his biggest hit. But most of his fame came from 60s European tours. This budget comp is a great intro to his music. Williamson was back doing radio in the mid-60s. When he didn't show up for his broadcast, he was found dead of a heart attack in his room on May 24, 1965 in Helena, AR at age 53. Because the name confusion was deliberate, we now call him Sonny Boy Williamson II. Here's Sonny Boy Williamson II with Matt "Guitar" Murphy on guitar, Otis Spann on piano and Willie Dixon on bass performing Nine Below Zero in England 1964.