Sonny Boy Williamson II – The Real Folk Blues

By Michael Rubin

Written by Michael Rubin on . Posted in Blog: Harmonica Articles, Harmonica Players

Sonny Boy Williamson II (AKA Alex Rice Miller) set the stage for all harmonica players who followed him. He was the BEST at cupping the hands to get a wah-wah sound.

This album is classic, with incredible songs and playing. He played acoustically without a bullet mic and amplifier. Throughout his playing, notice little quick groups of two holes played at once, called double stops. Rick Estrin calls these the glue that holds the carpet together. Notice repetitive tongue slaps. He will often play 2 through 5 draw, slap into 5 draw and repeat multiple times.

He created many classic licks that are copied by endless players. Listen to Got To Move, or Down Child. He was a master at well-spaced phrases. Listen to Checkin’ Up On My Baby. He could be very melodic. His harmonica sings on Too Young To Die and Bring It On Home and yes, that is where Led Zeppelin got it from!

One Way Out: Key of A on D harp, 2nd position
Too Young To Die: Key of D on a G harp, 2nd position
Trust My Baby: Key of G on a G harp, 1st position
Checkin’ Up On My Baby: Key of A on a D harp, 2nd position
Sad To Be Alone: Key of C on an F harp, 2nd position
Got to Move: Key of G on a C harp, 2nd position
Bring It On Home: Key of E on an A harp, 2nd position
Down Child: Key of C on an F harp, 2nd position
Peach Tree: Key of G on a C harp, 2nd position
Dissatisfied: Key of Ab on a C Koch Chromatic (BEST GUESS), 9th position
That’s All I Want: Key of F on a Bb harp, 2nd position
Too Old To Think: Key of C on an F harp

Comments (2)

  • Paul


    My inspiration for playing Harmonicaa an absolute genius.


Tell the harmonica world what you think...

(Spamcheck Enabled)