RICE MILLER
( Sonny Boy Williamson II )

1897 - 1965.


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Sonny Boy Williamson IIRice Miller (later known as) Sonny Boy Williamson II, born in Glendora, Mississippi the date 5 December 1897, but other dates have been rumoured 11 March 1908 and 7 April 1909.

If 1897 is correct he started to learn the harmonica in 1902.

John Lee Williamson is born 30 March 1914 in Jackson, Tennessee.( Sonny Boy I )

In 1920 Rice begins touring the southern states, honing his act in hundreds of juke joints.

By 1940 Rice Miller is a widely experienced blues musician, having played during the 1930's with such blues luminaries as Robert Johnson, Sunnyland Slim, Big Boy Crudup, Elmore James, Robert Lockwood and Howlin' Wolf, who has also become his brother-in-law.

A year later Rice changes his name to Sonny Boy Williamson and begins playing on the radio programme King Biscuit Time broadcast by the KFFA station in Helana, Arkansas.

Now famous throughout the South, Rice Miller, now firmly established under his new name he plays a concert at the New York Inn, New Orleans in 1944.

Rice joins Elmore James in 1947 for the Talaho Syrup Show on the WAZF radio station in Yazoo City, Mississippi.

John Lee Williamson dies in 1948 after being mugged on his way home from the Plantation Club in Chicago.

The following year, along with Willie Love, Willie Nix and Joe Willie Wilkins, Sonny Boy forms the Four Aces.

In 1951 Trumpet Records release Sonny Boy's first recordings and in 1953 he records with Tampa Red in Chicago.

Sonny Boy leaves Trumpet Records in 1954, the next year joins the Chess label and records several songs with Muddy Waters, Jimmy Rogers, Otis Spann and Fred Below. Two years later he records '99' and 'Born Blind' with Robert Jr Lockwood, Luther Tucker, Willie Dixon and Fred Below.

Sonny Boy's album Down and Out Blues is released in 1959. It becomes a major influence on young British blues followers.

He visits Europe for the first time in 1963. In Denmark he makes some outstanding recordings with guitarist Matt Murphy and Memphis Slim. In Britain he plays with the Yardbirds and the Animals.

Sonny Boy helps revive the King Biscuit Time show for KFFA, but he dies on 25 May 1965 in Helena, Arkansas.


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