Sonny Boy Williamson’s grave near Tutwiler, Mississippi

The grave of Sonny Boy Williamson (Aleck “Rice” Miller) is in a small cemetery near Tutwiler, Tallahatchie County, Mississippi.

Cemetery where Sonny Boy Williamson II is buried, Tutwiler, Mississippi
Cemetery where Sonny Boy Williamson II is buried, Tutwiler, Mississippi

The photo above shows how the cemetery in which Sonny Boy Williamson is buried appears from the road. This cemetery was once a church cemetery, but the church building is no longer standing at this site.

There is no Mississippi Blues Trail marker for Sonny Boy Williamson at this cemetery. The Mississippi Blues Trail marker for Sonny Boy Williamson is in Glendora, Mississippi, which is on Highway 49E between Tutwiler and Minter City. The Mississippi Blues Trail added a second marker for Sonny Boy Williamson in downtown Helena, Arkansas in 2015.

Sonny Boy Williamson’s grave is at the back of the cemetery in the treeline.

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The GPS location of Sonny Boy Williamson’s grave is N 34° 01.108′ W 90° 27.464′

 

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This is the headstone on Sonny Boy Williamson’s grave.

The inscription reads:

“ALECK MILLER

BETTER KNOWN AS

WILLIE SONNY BOY WILLIAMSON

BORN MAR. 11, 1908

DIED JUNE 23, 1965

SON OF

JIM MILLER AND MINNIE MILLER

INTERNATIONALLY FAMOUS HARMONICA AND VOCAL BLUES ARTIST DISCOVERED AND RECORDED BY  TRUMPET RECORDS, JACKSON MISS. FROM 1950 TO 1955.”

Sonny Boy Williamson’s grave was unmarked until 1980, when this monument was erected by Lillian McMurray, the founder of Trumpet Records in Jackson, Mississippi, who had made the first recordings of Sonny Boy Williamson in 1950.

Despite its relative isolation and its not being included on the Mississippi Blues Trail, Sonny Boy Williamson’s grave still gets regular visits by blues fans.

Like many graves of blues musicians, Sonny Boy Williamson’s grave has been adorned with souvenirs and tokens left by visiting fans. Harmonicas and liquor are frequently left on the grave.

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At Sonny Boy Williamson’s grave we met this fellow Mississippi Blues Traveller, who told us he is travelling to blues related sites throughout Mississippi with his dog, Maximus.

We will post more about Sonny Boy Williamson II in the next few weeks. In the meantime here’s a video on Sonny Boy Williamson performing Keep It To Yourself

2 November 2015

Mississippi John Hurt’s grave, Avalon, Mississippi

Mississippi John Hurt (1892-1966) was one of the great early blues players from Mississippi.

Cover of Mississippi John Hurt's Today album
Cover of Mississippi John Hurt’s Today album

He recorded 13 tracks for Okeh Records in 1928 and then faded into obscurity until two music researchers traced him to his home in Avalon, Mississippi in the early 1960s.

His re-discovery led Mississippi John Hurt to a new recording contract with Vanguard Records and a successful new recording and performing career until his death in 1966.

Last year, a friend and I visited Mississippi John Hurt’s grave in Avalon, Mississippi.

Site of Mississippi Blues Trail marker for Mississippi John Hurt
Site of Mississippi Blues Trail marker for Mississippi John Hurt

The Mississippi Blues Trail has placed a marker in Avalon, Mississippi commemorating Mississippi John Hurt.

Mississippi Blues Trail marker for Mississippi John Hurt
Mississippi Blues Trail marker for Mississippi John Hurt

Mississippi John Hurt’s grave can be difficult to find if you are unfamiliar with the area. It’s in an abandoned and overgrown cemetery, obscured by trees, off the side of a dirt road.

Cemetery where Mississippi John Hurt is buried
Cemetery where Mississippi John Hurt is buried

Mississippi John Hurt’s grave is at the back of the cemetery.

Mississippi John Hurt's grave, Avalon, Mississippi
Mississippi John Hurt’s grave, Avalon, Mississippi

Here are some close ups of the gravestone.

Mississippi John Hurt's grave, Avalon, Mississippi
Mississippi John Hurt’s grave, Avalon, Mississippi

Fans visiting the graves of Mississippi blues musicians often leave tributes of flowers, liquor, musical instruments and other tokens on the grave. Mississippi John Hurt’s grave is no exception.

Tribute of flowers, liquor and other items left by fans on Mississippi John Hurt's grave
Tributes left by fans on Mississippi John Hurt’s grave

We will post more information about Mississippi John Hurt and other great Mississippi blues musicians in due time.