Sonny Boy Williamson
Sonny Boy Williamson is thought by many American music enthusiasts to be one of the end-all, be-all blues legends. He was one of the few crooners to have played with Robert Johnson, the man who allegedly sold his soul to the devil at the crossroads. Williamson bummed around the U.S., drank heavily (whiskey was his poison), and eventually landed a posh job hosting a radio show for about fifteen years. KFFA's King Biscuit Time was the first blues-focused radio show to ever juice through a radio transmitter onto the public airwaves. His dark, autobiographical recorded material personifies the blues. Williamson's songs were marinated in an unaffected, melancholic paranoia and delivered with gritty, sinister wit. His phenomenal harmonica playing was celebrated most in Europe, where he would dazzle the crowds with passionate bursts of tuneful blues harp honks and passionate wailing. His vocals were deep and breathy accounts of hard living. In 1955, he first recorded "Don't Start Me to Talkin'" for Chess Records, a song that did well on the R&B charts. Williamson later fell in love with England, where he would play with the Yardbirds and Eric Burdon's band the Animals (who he called "de Mammimals"). One of his final recorded songs, "I'm Trying to Make London My Home," was played with Jimmy Page on guitar. Sonny Boy Williamson was inducted into the Blues Foundation Hall of Fame in 1980, fifteen years after the heart attack that took his life in 1965.