Aaron Willis was born on 6 October 1932, in Greensboro, Alabama, USA. Little Sonny Willis plays harmonica and sings. His musical career has been intermittent. Willis moved to Detroit in 1954. Working as a photographer in the bars of the Hastings Street area, he also learned to play the harmonica. His first gig was in the Good Time Bar with Washboard Willie's band. Willis gained some harmonica tuition from Sonny Boy Williamson II, from whom he adopted his nickname.