I finally got around to watching this movie. I actually dug it to the degree that I really enjoyed the music. That being said, this flick is so annoyingly inaccurate, it’s impossible to recommend. Much of the errors are sloppy timeline issues. Other than what has already been mentioned, one that jumped out at me is when Muddy is recording “Forty Days and Forty Nights”. After it’s recorded, there’s a push to give Little Walter a shot at a record, and they go into cutting “Juke”. The problem is that “Juke” was done four years prior to “Forty Days and Forty Nights”.
Another problem is that the film devotes way too much time to Etta James, including a fictitious relationship with Leonard Chess. This is unfortunately done at the cost of completely neglecting the likes of Bo Diddley and Sonny Boy Williamson.
Must troublesome of all though, is the film’s agenda of highlighting white musicians ripping off Chess artists. While true to a degree, the actual story doesn’t quite fit the movie’s timeline. There was in fact a huge underground blues scene in London in the early-to-mid sixties. However, it was through pop music that any widespread success was achieved during this era. It wasn’t until the emergence of the album oriented focus of acts of the late 60’s that blues was a key component of their success (Led Zeppelin, Foghat, Jeff Beck Group, Allman Brothers, etc.). And the truth of the matter is that the success of these acts helped to greatly propel Chess artists to much of the acclaim they receive today. Instead, the movie goes to great lengths to revise history. Other than the Beach Boys copping of Chuck Berry (not a blues number, btw), the film is left with fictitiously showing (as pointed out) the Stones’ hit recording of “Can’t Be Satisfied” tearing up the charts. Fact is that the Stones NEVER released a blues single in the U.S. period – completely because, despite their love of the music, they knew the blues’ appeal was too narrow to have chart success. And, to top things off, there is of course there is no mention of Willie Dixon deceitfully buying publishing rights of unknown artists, only to turn around and have them cut under his own pen; or of Muddy Waters taking liberties with songwriting credits of tunes previously released by other artists.
The final annoyance is the film’s attempt to show some sort of thread connecting the music of Chess Records to hip-hop music of today – closing with a god-awful hip-hop take of “I’m a Man”. What a sour ending.
Nah, that was really a Sonnyboy Williamson incident. And I really have no idea if it ever took place. But the story is, after the original Sonny Boy died in the 30s, a harmonica player named Rice Miller took the name...he had his own radio show (sponsered by King Biscuit Flower) while he was still living in the south and had quite a few blues hits after moving to Chigago. Rice Miller was also the same guy who went to England and was backed by the Animals and the Yardbirds which someone had the smarts to record.
But somewhere early on before any of that happened, someone else was going around doing gigs as Sonny Boy Williamson but again, it wasn't because he was trying to steal something from Rice Miller, he just had tghe same idea to take the name as the original had died in the 30s. If the guy ever was taken down by Rice Miller, I don't know.