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Songs
Sonny Boy Williamson recorded over 150 songs between 1951 and 1965. Most of these were his own compositions, and many were recorded more than once. A brilliant improviser, he was able to make each performance unique, through differing arrangements, tempos and even lyrics (as illustrated by the 11 takes/false starts of “Little Village” recorded in one famous session).

The list below includes all versions of all songs known to have been recorded by Sonny Boy. Unless otherwise indicated, all were written by Sonny Boy Williamson II and recorded in the studio. Most are published by Arc Music Group/BMI.

For inexplicable reasons, Arc Music does not differentiate between the songs of John Lee “Sonny Boy” Williamson (Sonny Boy I) and Alex “Rice” Miller (Sonny Boy II, the subject of this website). Lost or unissued takes and Sonny Boy II songs recorded only by other artists have not been included, nor have songs in which Sonny Boy was accompanying another artist.

Each song listing includes the following details:
◾ The full title (or titles)
◾ The writer (if not Sonny Boy Williamson)
◾ The recording date (or dates)
◾ The albums on which the song appears (in order of release), with links to the relevant pages.

23 Hours Too Long
8/12/63 (LIVE), SBW&TY , SBWIE

“309”
14/4/53, CWTW, BWS, FTB

“99” [a.k.a. Ninety Nine]
1/9/57, CKR 883, DAOB, TIMS, SBW, TESBW, HB

All My Love In Vain
12/8/55, CKR 824, DAOB, TIMS, SBW, TESBW, HB

All Night Boogie [instrumental]
5/11/63, BMV12

Baby Don’t Worry [a.k.a. Baby, Don't You Worry]
8/12/63 (LIVE), SBW&TY
30/12/63 (LIVE), TAASBW

Baby Please Come Back Home
5/11/63, BMV12

Boppin’ With Sonny [retitled take of Clownin' With The World]
2/11/54, ACE 511, GIYD, BWS, FTB

Born Blind [a.k.a. Eyesight To The Blind]
1/9/57, CKR 883, OWO, SBW, TESBW, HB

Bring It On Home [Willie Dixon]
11/1/63, CKR 1134, TRFB, TIMS, SBW, TESBW, HB

Bye Bye Bird [Willie Dixon, Sonny Boy Williamson]
11/1/63, CKR 1036, MRFB, TESBW, HB
8/12/63 (LIVE), SBW&TY , SBWIE
28/2/64, DSMNF

Bye Bye, Sonny, Bye Bye
30/12/63 (LIVE), TAASBW

Cat Hop
23/3/53, TPT 212, DMAM, GIYD, BWS, FTB

Checkin’ Up On My Baby
14/4/60 (TAKE 1),TRFB, TIMS, TESBW, HB
14/4/60 (TAKE 2), CHARLY BOX 1

Chicago Bounce
1/11/63, TBOSBW

City Of New Orleans
14/4/53, CWTW, BWS, FTB

Close To Me — see (I Want You) Close To Me

Clownin’ With The World [Instrumental]
2/11/54 (TAKE 1), CWTW, BWS
2/11/54 (TAKE 2) — SEE BOPPIN’ WITH SONNY

Come Go With Me
5/65 (RADIO BROADCAST), KBT

Come On Back Home
5/8/51, TPT 140, KBT

Coming Home To You Baby
1/11/63, APIB, KITO

Cool, Cool Blues
5/8/51, TPT 139, KBT

Cool Disposition
30/1/60, OWO, TESBW

Crazy About You Baby
12/3/51, TPT 129, KBT

Cross My Heart
1/9/57, CKR 910, DAOB, TIMS, SBW, TESBW, HB


Decoration Day (John Lee “Sonny Boy” Williamson)

3/9/63, CKR 1065,MRFB, TIMS, TESBW

Dissatisfied
1/9/57, CKR 910, DAOB, TRFB, TIMS
9/10/64 (LIVE), SBWIE

Do It If You Wanna
5/8/51, TPT 139, KBT

Do The Weston [Instrumental]
8/12/63 (LIVE), SBW&TY , SBWIE

Don’t Let Your Right Hand
1/11/63, APIB, KITO

Don’t Lose Your Eye
24/1/56, OWO, SBW, TESBW

Don’t Make A Mistake
8/64 (TAKE 1), DMAM
8/64 (TAKE 2), DMAM

Don’t Send Me No Flowers
4/65, DSMNF

Don’t Start Me To Talkin’
12/8/55, CKR 824, DAOB, TIMS, SBW, TESBW, HB

Down And Out
1/11/63 (TAKE 1), BMV12
1/11/63 (TAKE 2), BMV12

Down Child [a.k.a. Mr. Downchild]
4/12/51, TPT 168, KBT
15/9/60, CKR 1134, TRFB, TIMS, TESBW, HB
8/12/63 (LIVE), SBW&TY , SBWIE

Empty Bedroom
2/11/54, TPT 228, GIYD, BWS, FTB

Eyesight To The Blind [a.k.a. Born Blind]
12/3/51, TPT 129, KBT

Fattening Frogs For Snakes
8/2/57 (TAKE 1), CKR 864, DAOB, TIMS
8/2/57 (TAKE 2), DMAM, TESBW, HB
30/12/63 (LIVE), TAASBW

Find Another Woman
8/64, DMAM

From The Bottom [written by Lillian McMurry but credited to "Willie Williamson"]
12/11/54 (TAKE 1), SBR
12/11/54 (TAKE 2), TPT
12/11/54 (TAKE 3), SBR
12/11/54 (TAKE 6), SBR 228, GIYD, BWS

Gettin’ Out Of Town
24/10/53, TPT 215, GIYD, BWS, FTB
4/65, DSMNF

Gettin’ Together
1/11/63, APIB, KITO

Going In Your Direction
24/10/53, TPT 216, DMAM, GIYD, BWS
(TAKE 4), SBR
(TAKE 5), SBR,
(UNRELEASED TAKE),FTB

Good Evening Everybody
12/8/55, OWO, TESBW, HB

Got To Move
11/1/63, TRFB, TIMS, SBW

Had My Fun (Goin’ Down Slow)(St. Louis Jimmy Oden)
1963/64 (LIVE), SBWIE

Have You Enjoyed My Play?
11/63, BMV12

Have You Ever Been In Love
7/8/56, OWO, TESBW

Help Me [R. Bass, Sonny Boy Williamson]
11/1/63, CKR 1036, MRFB, TIMS, SBW, TESBW, HB

Hurts Me So Much
8/2/57 (TAKE 1), DMAM
8/2/57 (TAKE 2), DMAM
8/2/57 (TAKE 3), DMAM

I Can’t Be Alone
8/64, SBW, TESBW

I Can’t Do Without You
14/4/60, BR

I Can’t Understand
1/11/63, APIB, KITO

I Cross My Heart
5/8/51, TPT 144, KBT

I Don’t Care No More
8/12/63 (LIVE), SBW&TY , SBWIE
30/12/63 (LIVE), TAASBW

I Don’t Know
8/2/57 (TAKE 1), CKR 864, DAOB, TIMS, DMAM, SBW, TESBW, HB
8/2/57 (TAKE 2), CH CD 9330
13/10/63 (LIVE), DMAM, SBWIE

I Know What Love Is All About
24/1/56, OWO

I Never Do Wrong
30/1/60, SBW

I See A Man Downstairs
4/65, DSMNF

(I Want You) Close To Me [a.k.a. Close To Me] [Willie Dixon]
30/4/64, CKR 1080, MRFB, TESBW

I Wonder Do I Have A Friend
1/11/63, APIB, BMV12

I Wonder Why
24/1/56, OWO, SBW

I’m Gonna Put You Down
30/12/63 (LIVE), TAASBW

I’m Not Beggin’ Nobody
2/11/54 (TAKE 1), CWTW, BWS, FTB
2/11/54 (TAKE 2), GIYD

I’m So Glad
1/11/63, TBOSBW, BMV12

I’m Trying To Make London My Home
12/10/64 (LIVE), SBWIE

It’s A Boody Life
4/65, DSMNF

It’s Rainy Outdoors, Baby
11/63, BMV12

(It’s) Sad To Be Alone [a.k.a. Sad To Be Alone]
30/1/60, CKR 943, TRFB, TIMS, SBW, HB

Keep It To Yourself
24/10/53, CWTW, BWS, FTB
7/8/56 (TAKE1), CKR 847, OWO, SBW, TESBW, HB
7/8/56 (TAKE 2), DAOB

Keep Your Hand Out Of My Pocket
27/3/58, BR, SBW, TESBW, HB

Key To Your Door — see The Key (To Your Door)

Leavin’ Blues
5/11/63, BMV12

Let Me Explain
24/1/56, CKR 834, DAOB, TIMS, SBW, TESBW

Let Your Conscience Be Your Guide
1959, CKR 927, OWO, SBW, TESBW

Like Wolf
8/2/57, OWO, SBW, TESBW

Little Girl
1/11/63, APIB, BMV12

Little Girl How Old Are You
4/65, DSMNF

Little Village
1/9/57 (TAKES 1-11), BR
1/9/57 (EDITED), TESBW

Lonesome Cabin
6/60, CKR 956, BR, TESBW
28/2/64, DSMNF

Mighty Long Time
4/12/51, TPT 166, KBT

Movin’ Down The River
1/11/63, TBOSBW, BMV12

Movin’ Out
1/11/63, TBOSBW, KITO

Mr. Downchild — see Down Child

My Babe
30/12/63 (LIVE), TAASBW

My Younger Days
3/9/63, CKR 1080, MRFB, TIMS, HB

Night Time Is The Right Time
30/12/63 (LIVE), TAASBW

Nine Below Zero
4/12/51, TPT 166, KBT
8/9/61, CKR 1003, MRFB, TIMS, SBW, TESBW, HB

Ninety Nine — see “99”

No Nights By Myself [same tune as "Mighty Long Time"; new lyrics written by Lillian McMurry but credited to "Willie Williamson"]
12/11/54, ACE 511, GIYD, BWS, FTB

Nobody But You
30/12/63 (LIVE), TAASBW

November Boogie [Instrumental]
5/11/63, BMV12

On My Way Back Home
1/11/63, TBOSBW, BMV12

Once Upon A Time
1/11/63, TBOSBW, KITO

One Way Out [Sonny Boy Williamson, Elmore James, Marshall Sehorn]
8/9/61, CKR 1003, OWO, SBW, TESBW, HB
3/9/63, CHARLY BOX 1
30/4/64, TRFB, TIMS

Open Road
14/4/60, BR

Out On The Water Coast
8/12/63 (LIVE), SBW&TY , SBWIE

Peach Tree
6/60, TRFB

Pontiac Blues
5/8/51, TPT 145, KBT
8/12/63 (LIVE), SBW&TY , SBWIE
30/12/63 (LIVE), TAASBW
28/2/64, DSMNF

Rebecca Blues [Peter Chatman]
1/11/63, BMV12

Red Hot Kisses [written by and credited to Lillian McMurry]
24/10/53, TPT 216, DMAM, GIYD, BWS

Right Now [Willie Love]
5/65 (RADIO BROADCAST), KBT

Sad To Be Alone — see (It’s) Sad To Be Alone

Same Girl
1/11/63, TBOSBW, KITO

Santa Claus
14/4/60, BR, SBW, TESBW

She Brought Life Back To The Dead
4/12/51, TPT 215, GIYD, KBT

She Got Next To Me
27/3/58 (TAKE 1), BR
27/3/58 (TAKE 2), SBW

She Was Dumb
4/65, DSMNF

She’s Crazy
14/4/53 (TAKE 1), >GIYD
14/4/53 (TAKE 2), CWTW, BWS, FTB

She’s My Baby
14/12/60, MRFB, TESBW

Shuckin’ Mama
2/11/54, CWTW, BWS, FTB

Slow Walk
28/2/64, DSMNF

Slowly Walk Close To Me
1/11/63, APIB, KITO

Somebody Help Me
6/60, MRFB, TESBW

Sonny Boy’s Christmas Blues
5/8/51, TPT 145, KBT

Sonny Boy’s Girlfriends
1/11/63, TBOSBW, KITO

Sonny Boy’s Harmonica Boogie
13/10/63 (LIVE), SBWIE

Sonny’s Rhythm [Instrumental]
14/4/53 (TAKE 1), CWTW, BWS, FTB
14/4/53 (TAKE 2), GIYD

Sonny’s Slow Walk
30/12/63 (LIVE), TAASBW

Steady Rollin’ Man
1958, FLYR LP 567, PAULA CD 07

Stop Crying
5/8/51, PT 140, KBT
30/4/64, SBW

Stop Now Baby
4/12/51, TPT 168, KBT

Stop Right Now
14/12/60, CKR 975, MRFB, TESBW

Stormy Monday
5/65 (RADIO BROADCAST), KBT

Take It Easy Baby
8/12/63 (LIVE, VERSION 1), SBW&TY , SBWIE
1963 (LIVE, VERSION 2), SBWIE

Take Your Hands Out Of My Pocket
1958, FLYR LP 567, PAULA CD 07

Temperature 110
6/60, CKR 956, BR, TESBW

That’s All I Want [Willie Dixon]
8/9/61, TRFB

The Goat
30/1/60, CKR 943, MRFB, TIMS, TESBW
4/65, DSMNF

The Hunt
14/12/60, CKR 975, MRFB

The Key (To Your Door) [a.k.a. Key To Your Door]
7/8/56 (TAKE 1), CKR 847, DAOB, SBW
7/8/56 (TAKE 2), TESBW

The Sky Is Crying [Lewis, Robinson, James]
/11/63, APIB, KITO

The Story Of Sonny Boy Williamson
1/11/63, APIB, BMV12

This Is My Apartment
8/2/57, OWO

This Old Life
15/9/60, BR

Tippin’ Through Customs
1/11/63, BMV12

Too Close Together
4/12/51, TPT 212, KBT
15/9/60, CKR 963, OWO, SBW, TESBW

Too Old To Think
8/9/61, TRFB, TESBW

Too Young To Die
14/12/60, TRFB, TIMS, TESBW

Trust My Baby
15/9/60, CKR 963, TRFB, TIMS, TESBW

Trying To Get Back On My Feet
3/9/63, CKR 1065, MRFB, TIMS, TESBW

Understand My Life
8/64, SBW

Unseen Eye
1/9/57, BR, TESBW

Unseeing Eye
1959, CKR 927, TESBW

V-8 Ford
5/65 (RADIO BROADCAST), KBT

Wake Up Baby
27/3/58, CKR 894, DAOB, TIMS

Walking
4/65, DSMNF

West Memphis Blues
5/8/51, TPT 144, KBT

When The Lights Went Out
1/11/63, TBOSBW, KITO

Who’s Gonna Take Care Of You?
11/63, BMV12

Why Are You Crying?
1/11/63, TBOSBW, KITO

Work With Me
12/8/55, OWO

You Killing Me
12/8/55, OWO, TESBW

Your Funeral And My Trial
27/3/58 (TAKE 1), CKR 894, DAOB, TIMS, TESBW, HB
27/3/58 (TAKE 2), BR

Your Imagination
24/1/56, CKR 834, BW, TESBW

KEY:
APIB – A Portrait In Blues
BMV12 – Blues Masters, Vol. 12
BR – Bummer Road
BWS – Boppin’ With Sonny
CKR – Checker / Chess Singles
CWTW – Clownin’ With The World
DAOB – Down And Out Blues
DMAM – Don’t Make A Mistake
DSMNF – Don’t Send Me No Flowers
FTB – From The Bottom
GIYD – Goin’ In Your Direction
HB – His Best
KBT – King Biscuit Time
KITO – Keep It To Ourselves
MRFB – More Real Folk Blues
OWO – One Way Out
SBR – Sonny Boy’s Rhythm
SBW – Sonny Boy Williamson
SBW&TY – Sonny Boy Williamson & The Yardbirds
SBWIE – Sonny Boy Williamson In Europe
TAASBW – The Animals And Sonny Boy Williamson
TBOSBW – The Blues Of Sonny Boy Williamson
TESBW – The Essential Sonny Boy Williamson
TIMS – This Is My Story
TPT – Trumpet 78’s
TRFB – The Real Folk Blues

_________________________________________________________

Records

Sonny Boy Williamson was a prolific recording artist, recording from 1951 for Trumpet Records in Jackson, through his 1955-1964 recordings for Chess in America and 1963-65 in the studio for Storyville and live on the American Folk Blues Festival for L+R and in 1963-1964 live with the Yardbirds, the Animals and a jam with Jimmy Page through his final informal recording of a “King Biscuit Time” radio show in Helena for Arhoolie.

Don’t be deceived with the Chess cover photos which captured him at a much later time in life than the music captured within. Such combinations, along with the photo of an anonymous street bum (certainly not the dapper Rice Miller) on the cover of his 1959 classic “Down and Out Blues” on Chess, reinforced his claim that he was “born in 1897 in a little town, Glendora Mississippi.”

After several attempts at early recording contracts and a highly successful and influential radio show, “King Biscuit Time” on KFFA in Helena Arkansas, starting in late 1941, he was first signed and recorded by Lillian McMurry of the Diamond Record Company, Jackson, Mississippi in December 1950.

Mrs. McMurry was unaware of his history during his lifetime and knew him as Willie ‘Sonny Boy’ Williamson the remainder of his life. It was only after he died that she knew of “King Biscuit Time.” He recorded a series of 78 and 45 RPM discs followed on the Trumpet label, including the classic “Eyesight To The Blind” featured in Tommy, The Who’s rock opera. Some of these have been included in compilations by Arhoolie, Blue Moon and Alligator Records.

When Diamond was essentially forced out of the increasingly competitive record business 1955. First presented to Diamond’s pressing plant owner as partial settlement of their bill (Diamond did NOT got bankrupt) and later sold to Chicago’s Chess Records, where he was reunited with his fellow King Biscuit Entertainer alumni, Robert Lockwood Jr., and recorded a substantial body of work by him over the next ten years. Released on the Checker and Chess labels, these recordings include Sonny Boy’s most widely known performances.

During both his Trumpet and Chess periods, he made sideman appearances with such artists as Tampa Red, Josh White, Baby Boy Warren, Rahsaan Roland Kirk. Charles Clark, The Skunks and King Biscuit Boys Dudlow Tayor and Peck Curtis and others. Sonny Boy continued to record for Chess until his death, recording over 70 tracks for them, despite numerous spats with Leonard Chess, some of which were caught on tape (“Little Village”)– to the amusement of generations of Sonny Boy fans and irritation of sideman Robert Lockwood Jr..

Sonny Boy toured Europe with the 1963 and 1964 editions of the American Folk Blues Festival. The result included, along the way, live sessions with the Animals and the Eric Clapton-led Yardbirds (precursors of the later “In London” albums by Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley), a series of excellent live Festival performances and a moving and spare marathon one-night recording session for Storyville Records (his first true “album” session) where his harp virtuosity was allowed to express its full and mournful sound in stark contrast. Conducted in Copenhagen, Denmark over 20 new, previously recorded songs were, apparently written in a short time or in the studio, recorded.

Sonny Boy Williamson II (Alex “Rice” Miller) died on May 25, 1965 (although his grave marker erroneously reads “June 23, 1965″) and he was laid to “rest” just outside of Tutwiler Miss. In front of his gravemarker is an indentation and, in many continually surprising ways, his unstoppable spirit is still very much of this world! On the other hand, I have heard four disturbingly similar and independently reported accounts of sightings of his ghost in the past few years..

The following discography includes all Sonny Boy’s major recordings, but it is far from complete. We would appreciate any corrections or information about missing material. (Send us an e-mail — all contributions will be acknowledged.)

1.The Unissued 1963 Blues Festival – Finally reissued on CD
2.New Review: AMERICAN FOLK BLUES FESTIVAL 1962-1965 5- CD BOX SET*

CHESS/CHECKER RECORDINGS
1.Chess Singles (1955-64)
2.THE CHESS YEARS* (4 CDs) (1991)
3.THE ESSENTIAL SONNY BOY WILLIAMSON* (2 CDs) (1993)
4.HIS BEST*(1 CD) (1997)
5.Down And Out Blues (1959)
6.The Real Folk Blues (1965)
7.In Memorium (1965)
8.More Real Folk Blues (1966)
9.Bummer Road (1969)
10.One Way Out (1975)
11.This Is My Story (1972)
12.Sonny Boy Williamson (1976)

LIVE RECORDINGS
1.SONNY BOY WILLIAMSON IN EUROPE* (1995)
2.LIVE IN ENGLAND* (1995))
3.AMERICAN FOLK BLUES FESTIVAL 1962-1965 5- CD BOX SET* (1995)
4.The Unissued 1963 Blues Festival (1985)
5.Blues Giants In Concert (1992)
6.The Lost Blues Tapes: American Folkblues Festival (1992)
7.Sonny Boy Williamson & Memphis Slim In Paris (1973)
8.Sonny Boy Williamson & The Yardbirds (1966)
9.The Animals And Sonny Boy Williamson (1977)
10.Don’t Send Me No Flowers (with Jimmy Page and others) (1968) Sonny Boy’s Final Studio Session, Basically A Jazz Jam Session

TRUMPET RECORDINGS
1.Trumpet 78’s (1951-55)
2.KING BISCUIT TIME* (1966)
3.Clownin’ With The World (1989)
4.Goin’ In Your Direction (1991)
5.Sonny Boy’s Rhythm (1990)
6.Boppin’ With Sonny
7.From The Bottom (1991)
8.Don’t Make A Mistake (1979)

STORYVILLE RECORDINGS
1.KEEP IT TO OURSELVES* (1990)
2.BLUES MASTERS VOL. 12* (1991)
3.A Portrait In Blues (1963)
4.The Blues Of Sonny Boy Williamson (1963)
5.Portrait Of A Blues Man (1997)

COMPILATIONS
1.THE HARP FROM DEEP SOUTH* (1991)
2.Don’t Make A Mistake (1979)
3.Sonny Boy Williamson
4.The Best Of Sonny Boy Williamson (1986)
5.Don’t Start Me To Talkin’, Vol. 1 (1991)
6.Sonny Boy Williamson, Vol. 2 (1976)
7.Keep It To Yourself (1991)
8.One Way Out (1992)
9.The Best Of Sonny Boy Williamson (1993)
10.Bring It On Home (1994)
11.Nine Below Zero (1995)
12.Open Road (Brazil, 1999)
13.The Last Sessions (not quite)

MISCELLANEOUS
1.As Sideman (courtesy of “Sonny Boy Williamson’s Info Brasil”)
2.Incomplete Listings
3.King Cobras (1980)
4.Don’t Make A Mistake

* ESSENTIAL COLLECTIONS