Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Sonny Boy Williamson II – "Eyesight to the Blind" (1951)

Every time the little girl starts lovin'
She bring eyesight to the blind

"Eyesight to the Blind" is a classic 12-bar blues song that was written by Sonny Boy Williamson and released as a single in 1951.

The Who included a cover of the song in Tommy.  Until recently, that was the only version of the song I had ever heard.  

By Sonny Boy Williamson, I mean Alex (pronounced "Aleck") Miller, not John Lee Curtis "Sonny Boy" Williamson.

Sonny Boy Williamson I
John Lee, who was born in Tennessee in 1914 and moved to Chicago in 1934, was one of the most recorded blues musicians of the thirties and forties.  He was the first great blues harmonica player.

Alex Miller, who was born in Mississippi in 1912 (or perhaps 1908, or perhaps 1899) was also a blues singer/songwriter who could play a mean harmonica.  The sponsor of a Helena, Arkansas radio show that Miller appeared on began billing him as Sonny Boy Williamson in what appears to have been a blatant attempt to capitalize on the fame of the Chicago Williamson.

Sonny Boy Williamson II
John Lee, who was killed by a robber in 1948 – his last words were "Lord, have mercy!" – is now referred to as "Sonny Boy Williamson I."

Miller, who died of a heart attack in 1965, is known as "Sonny Boy Williamson II."

Williamson II recorded a live album with the Yardbirds at a UK club in 1963, when Eric Clapton was that group's lead guitarist. That album wasn't released until two years later.

While he was in the UK, Williamson II supposedly set his hotel room on fire while trying to cook a rabbit in a coffee percolator.  (I'm guessing drugs and/or alcohol were involved, but that's just a guess.) 

Here's "Eyesight to the Blind":

Click below to buy the song from Amazon:

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