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Glendora in Tallahatchie County, Mississippi — The American South (East South Central)
 

Sonny Boy Williamson

 
 
Sonny Boy Williamson Marker (Front) image. Click for full size.
By Mark Hilton, October 18, 2015
1. Sonny Boy Williamson Marker (Front)
Inscription.
Front
Sonny Boy Williamson (c. 1912-1965), one of the premier artists in blues history, was born on a Glendora plantation under the name Alex Miller. A colorful character and charismatic performer, he was widely known as “Rice” Miller or "Sonny Boy No. 2"—in deference to another bluesman who had recorded earlier as "Sonny Boy "Williamson. Miller’s mastery of the blues idiom resonated through all phases of his work as a singer, songwriter, and harmonica player.

Rear
Sonny Boy Williamson was perhaps the greatest harmonica player ever born in the Mississippi Delta and one of the most remarkable and poetic blues composers as well. He left an impressive musical legacy through his recordings of “Eyesight to the Blind,” “Help Me,” “Your Funeral and My Trial,” “Fattening Frogs for Snakes,” “Nine Below Zero,” "Mighty Long Time," "Unseeing Eye," and many others made for Trumpet Records in Jackson (1951-1954) and the Chess/Checker company in Chicago (1957-1964). He was also the first star of blues radio broadcasting in the South, famed for his live performances on the influential King Biscuit Time radio show out of Helena, Arkansas, which began in 1941.

Williamson’s estimated birthdate of December 5, 1912, is based
Sonny Boy Williamson Marker (Rear) image. Click for full size.
By Mark Hilton, October 18, 2015
2. Sonny Boy Williamson Marker (Rear)
on census data and recollections of his sisters. The inscription on his gravestone reads “Aleck Miller, Better Known as Willie ‘Sonny Boy’ Williamson, Born Mar. 11, 1908.” A trickster who was often in trouble with the law, he also confounded authorities and interviewers by using various other names and birthdates. Williamson songs such as “Don’t Start Me Talkin’” and “Keep It To Yourself” reflected his guarded, suspicious nature, which may well have been influenced by a harsh childhood environment. He was born on a plantation owned by Selwyn Jones, who was called to task by Mississippi Governor Earl Brewer for mistreatment of African Americans in 1915; in earlier years at least a dozen lynchings had been reported in Tallahatchie County, including several in Glendora.

During his career, Williamson teamed with such legendary artists as Robert Johnson, Elmore James, Robert Lockwood, Jr., Muddy Waters, and Buddy Guy. In the 1960s he became somewhat of a celebrity in England, performing and recording with a young Eric Clapton and the Yardbirds, the Animals, and others. In 1965 Williamson made his way back to Glendora and stayed a few weeks with his cousin, Willie James Stewart. He performed at Stewart’s juke joint, the King Place, which stood at this site, according to Glendora mayor Johnny B. Thomas, also a cousin, who worked for Stewart.
Photos on rear of marker. image. Click for full size.
By Mark Hilton, October 18, 2015
3. Photos on rear of marker.
Click on onto for closeup
Williamson eventually returned to Helena, where he resumed playing on King Biscuit Time, and reportedly told his guitarist, Houston Stackhouse, that he had come home to die.

Stackhouse drove Sonny Boy back to Mississippi a few times so he could revisit the places of his youth and see friends and family one final time. After Williamson died in Helena on May 25, 1965, several tributes to him were recorded by artists in both the United States and England. He was elected to the Blues Hall of Fame in the first year of balloting, 1980. He is buried in Tutwiler.
 
Erected 2014 by Mississippi Blues Commission.
 
Marker series. This marker is included in the Mississippi Blues Trail marker series.
 
Location. 33° 49.781′ N, 90° 17.634′ W. Marker is in Glendora, Mississippi, in Tallahatchie County. Marker is at the intersection of Bridges Avenue and Gipson Avenue, on the left when traveling east on Bridges Avenue. Click for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: Bridges Avenue, Glendora MS 38928, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 14 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. King's Place (here, next to this marker); Milam's House (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); Glendora Gin
Sign at entrance to Glendora. image. Click for full size.
By Mark Hilton, October 18, 2015
4. Sign at entrance to Glendora.
(about 600 feet away); Clinton Melton (approx. ¼ mile away); Tallahatchie County (approx. 9.8 miles away); Tallahatchie County Confederate Monument (approx. 10.7 miles away); Emmett Till Murder Trial (approx. 10.7 miles away); Bryant's Grocery (approx. 13.2 miles away). Click for a list of all markers in Glendora.
 
Also see . . .
1. Wikipedia article on Sonny Boy Williamson II. (Submitted on October 27, 2015, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama.)
2. Site dedicated to Alex “Rice” Miller – AKA Sonny Boy Williamson. (Submitted on October 27, 2015, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama.)
 
Categories. African AmericansArts, Letters, MusicEntertainment
 
View of marker looking south on Gipson Avenue. image. Click for full size.
By Mark Hilton, October 18, 2015
5. View of marker looking south on Gipson Avenue.
 
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama. This page has been viewed 159 times since then and 23 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on , by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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