Sonny Boy Williamson II: December 5, 1912
Alex Miller was born in Mississippi in 1912 and was a highly influential and prolific early blues singer and harmonica player. Miller was also known by a wide variety of monikers back in the day, including Rice Miller and Little Boy Blue. But, the name that he primarily went by was Sonny Boy Williamson II, not to be confused with another well-known blues harpist, John Lee Williamson who went by Sonny Boy also. Although John Williamson had already recorded several albums under his stage name, Miller insisted that he was born in 1899, a tactic used to convince people that he used the name before Williamson could.
Despite all of this confusion, Sonny Boy Williamson II went on to have a successful performing and recording career in the 50’s and 60’s, being featured on many singles and Eps. He also performed at a few blues festivals and recorded with the Animals, the Yardbirds, and Jimmy Page. You might recognize his song “Bring It On Home” recorded and performed by Led Zeppelin.
J.J. Cale: December 5, 1938
ohn, AKA J.J. Cale was born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma and was a songwriter, guitarist, and singer in a vast variety of genres. Cale was a prominent musical figure from the early seventies until he passed in 2013. However, Cale did not fancy the limelight like a lot of musicians tend to. Instead, he wrote many hit songs and was still referred to as “one of the most important figures in the history of rock” by none other than Eric Clapton.
Cale was even one of the originators of a style of music called the Tulsa Sound. This style blends elements from blues, rockabilly, country, and jazz. Some of his most recognizable compositions include “After Midnight” and “Cocaine” recorded by Eric Clapton, and “Call Me Breeze” performed by Lynyrd Skynyrd and John Mayer, as well as many other.
Tom Waits: December 7, 1949
Tom Waits is perhaps one of the most bizarre and uniquely talented musicians to ever perform. His style is usually described as rock or blues, but when he gets behind his piano and begins to sing, his music cannot really be confined to a specific genre. As a music critic once stated, “his voice sounds like it was soaked in a vat of bourbon, left hanging in a smokehouse for a few months, and then run over by a car.” His music is more of an experience, mixing his trademark growl with elements of a vaudeville show.
Over his career, Waits has released 15 studio albums and has performed all over the world. He has slowed down with the live concerts recently, but his music still appears on television shows and in movies. Also, Scarlet Johansson released an album in 2008 featuring covers of Waits’ tunes.
Jim Morrison: December 8, 1943
Jim Morrison was a poetic, lyrical, and musical genius who was also one of the most wild and entertaining front men in rock music history. He also passed away when he was only 27 years old. James Morrison was born in Melbourne, Florida but moved around a lot due to his father’s military career. After going to college and learning a lot about the literary and poetry masters who helped influence his future songwriting. After living in various parts of Florida, he transferred to UCLA in Los Angeles in 1964. After college, he led a vagabond and bohemian lifestyle, living on rooftops and on people’s couches.
By 1965, Morrison had met the future members of the standout band The Doors. The group got the name from an Aldous Huxley book entitled “The Doors of Perception.”
Because of his vocal talents, stage antics, and being a member of the infamous 27 club, Morrison is regarded as one of the most iconic front men in history. He passed away in Paris, France in 1971 with the official cause of death ruled as heart failure.
Gregg Allman: December 8, 1947
Gregory Allman AKA Gregg Allman, as half of the Allman Brothers Band’s namesake and a founding member, this iconic musician was a driving force behind the southern rock juggernauts throughout its both endearing and rugged 45 years in action. The sounds of his gruff vocals and haunting organ were an irreplaceable component of the group’s legendary sound. Just the same, his talents as a lyricist were equally as important as he penned many of the words of such Allman Brothers classics as “Midnight Rider”, “Melissa”, “It’s Not My Cross to Bear” and the powerful epic “Whipping Post”. In the early 70’s he also set about beginning an acclaimed solo career which he continues to this day, one that has been steeped in blues, R&B, rock, gospel, and the genre he helped to create, Southern rock.