Today is the birthday of Sonny Boy Williamson II (1912-1965), not to be confused with the original Sonny Boy Williamson. Nor is this one the son of the original Sonny Boy Williamson. This is just another guy named Sonny Boy Williamson. His real name was Alex “Rice” Miller; he began using Sonny Boy’s name in the 1940s, even going so far as to claim that it was he who had used the name first, although the original was actually NAMED Williamson and had been called “Sonny Boy” at least since 1937. But the original died in 1948, leaving Sonny Boy II free to use that name for another 17 years.
To complicate matters further, the only thing phony about Sonny Boy II is the name. His music is mighty terrific. In honor of the season we give you “Sonny Boy’s Christmas Blues”:
For more on show business history consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.
And don’t miss my new book Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, just released by Bear Manor Media, also available from amazon.com etc etc etc