Blues harpist Billy Boy Arnold
birth name: William Arnold

Billy Boy Arnold

September 16, 1935, Chicago, IL

Born in Chicago rather than in Mississippi (as many of his musical forefathers were), young Arnold gravitated right to the source in 1948. He summoned up the courage to knock on the front door of his idol, harmonica great John Lee Williamson (Sonny Boy Williamson I), who resided nearby. Sonny Boy kindly gave the lad a couple of harp lessons, but their relationship was quickly severed when Williamson was tragically murdered. Still in his teens, Arnold cut his debut 78 for the extremely obscure Cool logo in 1952. ‘Hello Stranger’ went nowhere but gave him his nickname when its label unexpectedly read ‘Billy Boy Arnold.’ ~ Allmusic: Billy Boy Arnold ~ retrieved September 8, 2013 © Allmusic

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September 16, 1978 ~ Billboard Hot 100 ~ #3 (3) Foreigner, Hot Blooded ~ #2 (2) Commodores, Three Times A Lady ~ #1 (1) A Taste Of Honey, Boogie Oogie Oogie


His wailing harmonica playing and soulful vocals are a perfect match for his streetwise songwriting. The combination of Delta-influenced blues with a more urban sophistication not only defines Arnold's sound, but was also a significant contribution in the early, formative days of rock and roll. His early work with Bo Diddley and his highly influential singles in the late 1950s (including ‘I Wish You Would’ and ‘I Ain't Got You’), brought him some local attention, but he never received the recognition he rightly deserved. ~ Alligator Records: Billy Boy Arnold ~ retrieved September 8, 2013 © Alligator Records

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