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Photographer's Note

Here's another picture with a story from our trip through the American Deep South.

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SONNY BOY WILLIAMSON (1912-1965) is one of the most fascinating characters in blues history. To begin with, Sonny Boy Williamson isn't who he says he is.

Here's the stoy. Sonny Boy Williamson was born Aleck (or Alex) Miller (maybe Ford), and started out impersonating a famous local musician called Sonny Boy Williamson. He got away with it, because way back in those radio days, nobody knew what he looked like anyway.

Gradually Sonny Boy Williamson, the imposter, became more famous than the original Sonny Boy Williamson, and he basically stole his career and just took over.

Sonny Boy Williamson, sometimes called Sonny Boy Williamson II, to distinguish between him and the original Sonny Boy, was one mean guy, not a pleasant person to deal with, by almost all accounts.

But he made it big time. Sonny Boy Williamson was part of the Chicago scene, later toured in Europe too, that's where he got the bowler hat.

He is one of the greatest, if not the greatest, harmonica player in the history of the blues. His most famous songs include "Help Me", "Bring it on Home" (which was stolen by Led Zeppelin) and "Don't Start Me Talkin'".

Quite a character!

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THIS PICTURE shows Sonny Boy Williamson (II) on a mural in Helena, Arkansas. It is located on the Mississippi levee, a fine place to go for an evening stroll.

Next to Sonny Boy is James Cotton, another local blues hero, a harmonica player too. On the far right is a white musician whom I don't know for sure. It might be Levon Helm (of the Band) who is another famous Helena musician. Maybe there is someone out there who can...help me?

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song title reference: Sonny Boy Williamson

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Additional Photos by Benny Verbercht (BennyV) Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2913 W: 35 N: 6291] (32926)
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