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Billy Boy Arnold

Talk about a comeback. After too many years away from the studio, Chicago harpist Billy Boy Arnold returned to action in a big way with two fine albums for Alligator: 1993's Back Where I Belong and 1995's Eldorado Cadillac. Retaining his youthful demeanor despite more than four decades of blues experience, Arnold's wailing harp and sturdy vocals remained in top-flight shape following the lengthy recording layoff.

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 "Sonny Boy" Williamson, 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."

Arnold made an auspicious connection when he joined forces with Bo Diddley and played on the shave-and-a-haircut beat specialist's two-sided 1955 debut smash "Bo Diddley"/"I'm a Man" for Checker. That led, in a roundabout way, to Billy Boy's signing with rival Vee-Jay Records (the harpist mistakenly believed Leonard Chess didn't like him). Arnold's "I Wish You Would," utilizing that familiar Bo Diddley beat, sold well and inspired a later famous cover by the Yardbirds. That renowned British blues-rock group also took a liking to another Arnold classic on Vee-Jay, "I Ain't Got You." Other Vee-Jay standouts by Arnold included "Prisoner's Plea" and "Rockinitis," but by 1958, his tenure at the label was over.

Other than an excellent Samuel Charters-produced 1963 album for Prestige, More Blues on the South Side, Arnold's profile diminished over the years in his hometown (though European audiences enjoyed him regularly) and he first ended up driving a bus in his hometown of Chicago, then working as a parole officer for the state of Illinois. Fortunately, that changed: Back Where I Belong restored this Chicago harp master to prominence, and Eldorado Cadillac drove him into the winner's circle a second time. After a six year lull between recordings, 2001's Boogie 'n' Shuffle on Stony Plain found Arnold still in fine form, backed by Duke Robillard and his band on a set of rough and ready blues.~ Bill Dahl
full bio

Selected Discography

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Track List: Billy Boy Arnold Sings: Big Bill Broonzy

1. Sweet Honey Bee

2. Going Back To Arkansas

3. Girl In The Valley A.K.A. Water Coast Blues

4. Key To The Highway

5. Looking Up At Down

6. Rider Rider Blues

7. Willie Mae Blues

8. Cell No. 13 Blues

9. I Want You By My Side

10. San Antonio Blues

11. Living On Easy Street

12. When I Get To Thinkin'

13. I Love My Whiskey

14. It Was Just A Dream

15. Just Got To Hold You Tight

x

Track List: Boogie 'n' Shuffle

1. Bad Luck Blues

2. Let's Work It Out

3. Just Got To Know

4. Greenville

5. Hello Stranger

6. Home In Your Heart

7. Blackjack

8. Boogie & Shuffle

9. Every Night, Every Day

10. Come Here Baby

11. Just Your Fool

12. Greenback

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Track List: Eldorado Cadillac

1. I Ain't Got You

2. Sunday Morning Blues

3. Don't Stay Out All Night

4. Lowdown Thing Or Two

5. Been Gone Too Long

6. Mama's Bitter Seed

7. Man Of Considerable Taste

8. How Long Can This Go On

9. Too Many Old Flames

10. Slick Chick

11. It Should Have Been Me

12. Sunny Road

13. Loving Mother For You

x

Track List: Back Where I Belong

1. I Wish You Would

2. Move On Down The Road

3. Fine Young Girl

4. You Got Me Wrong

5. Fool For You

6. Wandering Eye

7. Shake Your Hips

8. Whiskey, Beer And Reefer

9. Prisoner's Plea

10. High Fashion Woman

11. Young And Evil

12. Shake The Boogie

13. Worried Life Blues

14. Streetwise Advisors

Comments

Report as inappropriate
Love this song.....Two drinks of wine.....tel l s a story that is very familiar to many of us..... sorry we lost him so soon. RIP
Report as inappropriate
epic
Report as inappropriate
frannie1024
stay out all night long,....
Report as inappropriate
mrschaffins
good blues
Report as inappropriate
stepfan47
Loving this song & its meaning!

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