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Billy Boy Arnold (born William Arnold, September 16, 1935, Chicago, Illinois) is a leading American blues harmonica player, singer and songwriter.

Billy Boy Arnold performing at the International Jazz Festival in Wellington, New Zealand in 2006.

Billy Boy ArnoldBorn in Chicago, he began playing harmonica as a child, and in 1948 received informal lessons from his near neighbor John Lee "Sonny Boy" Williamson, shortly before the latter's death. Arnold made his recording debut in 1952 with "Hello Stranger" on the small Cool label, the record company giving him the nickname "Billy Boy".

In the early 1950s, he joined forces with street musician Bo Diddley and played harmonica on the March 1955 recording of the Bo Diddley song "I'm a Man" released by Checker Records.

Arnold signed a solo recording contract with Vee-Jay Records, recording the originals of "I Wish You Would" and "I Ainít Got You". Both were later covered by The Yardbirds,. "I Wish You Would" was also recorded by David Bowie on his 1973 album, Pin Ups and by Sweet on their 1982 album, Identity Crisis.

In the late 1950s Arnold continued to play in Chicago clubs, and in 1963 he recorded a LP, More Blues From The South Side, for the Prestige label, but as playing opportunities dried up he pursued a parallel career as a bus driver and, later, parole officer.

By the 1970s Arnold had begun playing festivals, touring Europe, and recording again. He recorded a session for BBC Radio 1 disc jockey John Peel on 5 October 1977.

In 1993 he released the album Back Where I Belong on Alligator Records, followed by Eldorado Cadillac (1995) and Boogie íní Shuffle (2001). As of 2010, Arnold continues to write and record new material, and occasionally tours the U.S. and Europe.

Festival appearances

San Francisco Blues Festival - 1992
Long Beach Blues Festival - 1994
North Sea Jazz - 2009
Chicago Blues Festival - 2010