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Donoghue Collection at Ole Miss Brings Legends of Blues to Life

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Posted in January 29, 2022 |
from the University of Mississippi

Archives and Special Collections opens exhibition of Sonny Boy Williamson-related memorabilia

Sonny Boy Williamson Soap and incense, presses test from Memphis Slim And holly buddy Records, contract signed by bb king Are just a few of the many items donated by a family William “Bill” Donoghue to me J.D. Williams Library In the University of Mississippi.

Donoghue, who died in January 2017, was born in the city of West Chester, Pennsylvania, but settled in Seattle. He was a respected author and investment expert best known for his book and newsletter tracing the growth of money market mutual funds, written in 1980. The Complete Money Market Guide by William E. (Harper & Row) which reached 3rd place today New York times Best Sellers List. Follow this successful first guide with a series of similar books.

But Donoghue’s other passion was Alex Miller, better known as Sonny Boy Williamson II, which is American Blues harmonica player, singer and songwriter. Williamson first recorded with Elmore James In “Dust My Broom”, some of his famous songs include “Don’t Start Me Talkin”, “Checkin’ Up on My Baby” and “Help Me”, which became a standard recorded by many blues and rock artists. He toured Europe with the American Folk Blues Festival and recorded with English rock music including yardbird And the animals.

Sonny Boy Williamson Vol. 2 (1938-1939)

Donoghue’s brother Ned He said he was a huge fan of Williamson, as well as anything jazz or blues related that caught his eye.

“He swallowed mountains of data,” Ned Donoghue said of his brother, a longtime jazz and blues fan with an encyclopedic knowledge of musical genres, who has become a leading authority on Williamson.

Bill Donoghue also maintained a website dedicated to the musician, as well as a large collection of memorabilia. After interviewing and recording over 200 of Williamson’s friends and colleagues, Donoghue began writing an autobiography of the singer-songwriter titled Hiding in the Spotlight: The Untold Story of Sonny Boy Williamson II.

Donoghue wrote in the preface: “His mysterious life is the stuff of legend, and in my opinion, he was arguably the hottest and most overlooked character in American blue folklore.”

He went on to write that his “obsession” with Williamson began in August 1995 during his visit Memphis to facebook week, When live blues Magazine founder Jim O’Neill Give him a tour of DeltaIncluding Williamson Cemetery.

After his brother died, Ned Donoghue wanted to find the right place for Bill’s amazing amount of memorabilia, so he invited Center for the Study of Southern Culture and talk with Katie McKeeand director of the center Be a beauty queen Professor of English and Southern Studies.

“I was fascinated and moved by one brother’s interest in another group, so I hooked up Ned with Greg Johnson at The Blues Archive,” Mackie said. “I think here the collection can be accessible to as many scientists as possible and Greg can take good care of it.

“People look at the center as a stepping stone to see how others study what’s important to them, and the fun part of my job is connecting people who need to know each other.”

It is also fitting that Donoghue did research at the Blues Archive with Johnson at the university, so it made sense that his group would be in Oxford.

“I thought about the great reputation of the University of Mississippi as an institution, and I knew Greg shared his passion for jazz and blues,” said Ned Donoghue.

“The Donoghue Collection at the University of Mississippi will serve as a mecca for the world of music or popular culture seeking to immerse himself or themselves in the largest and broadest body of primary and secondary material that helps explain the Mississippi Delta citizen, man, labor and legend that was Sonny Boy Williamson II.

“In the end, the most important elements for me are seeing that my brother gets the credit he deserves for moving forward on this important project to highlight Sonny Boy, and that Sonny Boy also credits the artistry and the huge musical influence he had on the British conquest of rock stars in the 1960s of the last century, which Bell and others think he deserves.”

Donoghue originally came to the campus to do research trumpet recordswhich has recorded a number of blues, gospel, and rockabilly artists, said Johnson, the university’s blues curator and professor of archives and private collection.

“Bill came here because of Trumpet Records, which was based in Jackson in the 1950s and run by Lillian McMurray,” Johnson said. “She was the first person to register Sonny Boy and we have his recording contracts, ownership statements, correspondence and more.

“Bill looked at that and the Ivy Gladden Collection from Helena, Arkansas, which contains the famous King Biscuit photos with Sonny Boy used to sell cornmeal.”

Johnson has fond memories of spending time with Donoghue in the archives.

“I remember he was very excited about Sonny Boy,” Johnson said. “He had a lot of great anecdotes and he shared stories with me. Was really excited to see the Trumpet Collection. Watching material from an authentic source is a powerful experience, and that was his passion.”

When the massive group arrived via truck from Seattle, Johnson said he was dumbfounded.

“This is a huge group with a huge amount of research and show potential,” he said. “There is great value to researchers and many beautiful posters, photos and publications. We can’t wait to roll out the physical collection.

“Archives depend on donations and the value of something like this… Who knows? You can’t go out archives and buy things like that, so donations make it all possible.”

The Best of Sonny Boy Williamson. The best of Sonny Boy Williamson

Fortunately, Johnson isn’t the only one who’ll be able to see it, like Archives and Special Collections قسم Opened an exhibition of Donoghue Group in Faulkner room. The “Bring It On Home” exhibition will run until early December, so everyone can see a large selection of items.

But first, there was the task of cataloging all the items.

At first, Johnson reviewed all audio recordings and books to inventory everything, created spreadsheets and lists to see what filled in the gaps in the library’s collection, and put everything into archival boxes and folders.

“The first thing I did was go through the ’70s, put them in acid-free archival sleeves, and write the inventory,” he said. “Everything will be put here to find help so researchers can see what we have and what we’re asking for.

“We’ve already spent several months on it, and there’s going to be a series of refining the collection. We’re going to get some initial help finding it and it’s going to be roughly organized, and then we’re going to narrow it down to add more detail to the descriptions.”

Both Johnson and the Donoghue family are looking forward to showing off the collection.

“The good thing is that all of this will be available and publicly available,” Johnson said. “It’s mostly blues and some jazz with some visual and audio interviews with the scripts.

“We process and write the inventory and then revise it and digitize the VHS tapes correctly. There is a lot to go into, but I am excited for the show to show it all.”

Written by Rebecca Lack Cleary

Items from Bill Donoghue’s collection of blues memorabilia arrived at the J.D. Williams Library in dozens of boxes. Materials have been inventoried and prepared for storage in the Blues Archive. Photo by Jimmy Thomas/UM Center for the Study of Southern Culture
Bill Donoghue originally came to the University of Mississippi to do research on Tariq Records, which recorded many blues, gospel, and rockabilly artists, including Sonny Boy Williamson. Photo by Jimmy Thomas/UM Center for the Study of Southern Culture
Items donated to the Blues Archive from Bill Donoghue’s estate include necklaces, old records, decorative items, and even food items related to Sonny Boy Williamson. Photo by Jimmy Thomas/UM Center for the Study of Southern Culture
Among the items on display in the J.D. Williams Library at the University of Mississippi, a harmonica once belonged to blues artist Sonny Boy Williamson. Photo by Greg Johnson / Archives and Special Collections
The “Bring It On Home” exhibit at the J.D. Williams Library includes a sample of a large collection of memorabilia donated by Bill Donoghue’s estate to the University of Mississippi. The exhibition is on display in the Archives and Special Collections section through early December. Photo by Greg Johnson / Archives and Special Collections
The “Bring It On Home” exhibit at the J.D. Williams Library includes a sample of a large collection of memorabilia donated by Bill Donoghue’s estate to the University of Mississippi. The exhibition is on display in the Archives and Special Collections section through early December. Photo by Greg Johnson / Archives and Special Collections
Author and investment expert Bill Donoghue was excited to research the life and career of blues artist Sonny Boy Williamson II. His vast collection of memorabilia has been donated to the Blues Archives at the University of Mississippi and is the basis of a new exhibition at the J.D. Williams Library. picture sent

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Tags: Alex Miller, BB King, Blues, Blues Music, Buddy Holly, Center for the Study of Southern Culture, Delta, Elmore James, Elvis Wake, Greg Johnson, Hiding in the Spotlight: The Untold Story of Sonny Boy Williamson II. , J.D. Williams Library, Jackson, Jazz, Jazz Music, Jim O’Neal, Katie McKee, Living Blues, Memphis, Memphis Slim, Ned Donoghue, Ole Miss, Pennsylvania, rocknroll, Seattle, Sonny Boy Williamson, The Animals, The Blues The Yardbirds, Trumpet Records, University of Mississippi, West Chester, William “Bill” Donoghue, The Complete Money Market Handbook by William E.


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University of Mississippi The University of Mississippi, affectionately known as Ole Miss, is the flagship university of Mississippi. A member of the elite group of R1: Doctoral Universities – the highest research activity of the Carnegie Classification, Ole Miss has a long history of producing leaders in public service, business, academics, and the professions. Its 16 academic departments include the main medical schools; nationally recognized faculties of accounting, law and pharmacy; An honors college known for its combination of academic rigor, experiential learning, and opportunities for community work. Known for being one of the most beautiful in the country, Ole Miss’s main campus is located in Oxford, which is routinely known as one of the best university cities in the country.




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