Detroit’s Electric Harmonica King Little Sonny
It was an instrumental song called “The Creeper Returns” that really raised my attention about the artist Little Sonny. Amazed by the grooving harmonica that takes you by the hand, I got more interested in this Detroit Bluesman and harmonica player. In the encyclopidias you read that around 1955 Little Sonny hopped on a bus and found himself in Detroit, in the middle of the blues. Little Sonny was born in Alabama but moved in 1953 to the Motor City.
New King of the Blues Harmonica
In Detroit He hung out with his namesake, Sonny Boy Williamson II who provided him with some harmonica tips, but it was his mother who gave him that name. In Detroit Little Sonny develepod his harmonica style alongside John Lee Hooker, Eddies Burns and Kirkland.
He worked in a car lot by day, in the night he would walk from bar to bar to make a little money taking pictures and hoping for a chance to sit in with the musicians onstage. After a session with Wasboard Sam he was offered a regular gig for three nights in the week by the club owner.
In 1970 Little Sonny released his, in my opinion best album “New King of the Blues Harmonica for Enterprise Records, a division of Stax Records. This album contains some of the best blues Harmonica you will find. Compare it to Little Walter or Junior Wells, but you will notice it is down and out grooving City Blues.
Blues or Baseball
A Funny Fact about Little Sonny is that his main interest before the Blues was Baseball. On the website of Stax Records he recalls: “He played on sandlot teams in Alabama for a few years before moving to Detroit seventeen years ago. “I knew no baseball scout was going to see me as far back in the woods as I was. I didn’t really have aspirations of being a musician when I came to Detroit. But then, I saw Sonny Boy Williamson.”
Second Album for Stax Black and Blue
According to the Stax Labe Little Sonny Flew for his second album, Black and Blue released in 1972 , Sonny flew to the Stax studios in Memphis and recorded eleven sides in one weekend. It was the #1 blues album in Detroit and #3 on the local LP charts.
Photo Credit: By Arthur Siegel, FSA-OWI [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons