Sonny Boy Williamson the first was a black man. He was also a bluesman. He was from Jackson Tennesee. Where I come from Jackson’s was a supermarket (until ruddy Sainsbury’s took it over) but in America, Jackson is a town.
They have a funny way with names in America. To be honest Sonny Williamson wasn’t even Sonny Boy Williamson the First’s real name. His real name was John Lee Curtis. But he fancied being called Sonny boy Williamson, so that’s what everyone called him. He played the mouth-organ, although he had always fancied playing the harp, so he became known as “the father of the modern blues harp.” But it wasn’t a harp, it was a ruddy mouth-organ.
Any Road, in 1937, at the age of 23, he recorded his greatest hit. “Good morning little schoolgirl. Now, I don’t know what the school leaving age was for girls in Tennessee, in the late 1930s, but I would be pretty ruddy surprised if it was anywhere near the age where it would be appropriate for the likes of Sonny Boy to be wishing them good morning, and offering them diamond rings if they will be his little woman, the filthy so and so. He was probably hanging around the school gates all afternoon, drinking ruddy bourbon mash and working himself into a tizzy, thinking about the state he was in when he woke up that morning.
Still, it was probably only a song. Bluesman probably just sang about chatting up little schoolgirls in them days, much the same as glam rock stars did in Britain in the 1970s… Ohh ruddy Norah! I’m just digging myself in deeper aren’t I.
Any road, what was interesting about sonny boy was that at the height of his fame another black bluesman, called Alex Miller, who had already tried changing his name to Little Boy Blue, and Rice Miller, decided to start going under the name of Sonny Boy Williamson. So The first Sonny Boy Williamson went to Tellahachie to have it out with him. But when he got there he found out that the second Sonny boy Williamson was a lot bigger than him, and looked a lot meaner, so he decided to change the subject, and went back home. Honestly, it must have been like when ruddy Tupac met the notorious Big.
But poor old Sonny Boy Williamson the First met an early end at the age of 34, when he got shot as he was walking past a robbery in Chicago. Ruddy Americans eh? Conspiracy theories are obviously rife. Had Sonny Boy Williamson the Second hired a hitman? Had the little schoolgirl of 1937 grown up and was she looking for the promised diamond ring? Or was it all just a terrible gun related accident, of the kind that so often happens in the land of the free?
What I do know is that Sonny Boy Williamson the Second lived on to have a long and successful career, and became more famous than the schoolgirl loving harpist that he pinched his name off.