Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Sonny Boy Williamson

Sonny Boy Williamson (Aleck "Rive" Miller) had a show on KFFA. I've written of Sonny Boy Williamson once before in passing and of KFFA twice. This third time is far more obscure, it is too arcane to resist. There turns out to be a song detailing the facts of his last day.

Sonny Boy Williamson was born in 1914 and died in 1948 but his death is largely unexplained. He was only 34 and died of a heart attack. His longtime band-mates at KFFA James Peck Curtis and Houston Stackhouse wrote an ode to him that described the morning of their last show. The Uncensored History of the Blues was kind enough to post the song already. It's 17 minutes into the program and appears on the album Blow My Blues Away Vol 1. The lyrics to "The Death of Sonny Boy Williamson" are below:
"Now ladies and gentlemen, this is ol' James Peck Curtis with the life story of Sonny Boy Williamson. The last night he was with me. I mean, Sonny Boy Williamson used to be on King Biscuit Time on radio station KFFA. The last night we were sitting down at my home listening to the St. Louis Cardinals and the Brooklyn Dodgers. But on that night when he got ready to leave he told me daddio, I'm going home and put the old man to bed. I'll see you in the morning early. Which he had been coming around to my house each and every morning taking breakfast, drinking his coffee we;d sit there and talk to near about broadcasting time.

But on May the 25th which was on a Tuesday, I went around to pick up the program and he hadn't made it there. I hurries to the radio station and check with the disc jockey -they told me that James, they hadn't saw him this morning. That's word I left with the Disco at radio station KFFA. I say I'll go back and check -and which was Neil Wallace. I told him get out some records just in case something done happen and play them if I don't get back. I walked upstairs to Sonny Boy's room, knocked on the door. Nobody said a thing. Awful sad, I pushed the door open and there he lay with his hand across his chest, mouth twisted to one side, I circled and he didn't even smile.

I rushed back downstairs to his landlord. I told them about it. He told me the best thing james, you can do is go call the morgue. I call the morgue and the coroner come . The coroner come and investigate the body. Told me that Sonny Boy had been dead six hours and a half. I thought him had to die between 4:30 and 6:00 that morning. On the back stregnth of that I turn right around call Miss Mattie Williamson in Milwakee Wisconsin and told them about the decease of her husband. Sonny Boy, great guy, my great manager. That's all."


  1. Anonymous11:07 AM

    His dates are 1912-1965...(1914-48 is the "first" Sonny Boy Williamson!)

  2. I was of the impression that there was some debate as to his year of birth, usually favoring the later date. Do you have a source on 1912?