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Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Chick Willis born 24 September 1934

 Robert "Chick" Willis (September 24, 1934 – December 7, 2013)was an American blues singer and guitarist who performed and recorded from the 1950s to the 2000s. He was also known as “The Stoop Down” Man.”

He was born Robert L. Willis in Cabaniss, County, Georgia, the cousin of Chuck Willis. His family moved to Atlanta when he was six. He served in the military in the early 1950s before working as a chauffeur for Chuck Willis during his heyday. He won a talent show at the Magnolia Ballroom in Atlanta and made his first record  in 1956, with the Ebb Records' single "You're Mine". Initially, he only sang, but learned guitar while touring with his cousin; Guitar Slim was one of his foremost influences. He took on the stage name Chick as a salute to his famous cousin.

After Chuck's death in 1958, Willis played with Elmore James. He also recorded singles such as"Twistin' in the Hospital Ward," cut for Alto in 1962 and more for other labels. His 1972 release, "Stoop Down Baby", was a jukebox hit but secured no radio airplay, due to its sexually explicit content. The song was one he had developed when working at a carnival show, where he would tease passers-by with ribald rhymes. Some of his later recordings reworked the song.

Willis bounced around New York, California, South Carolina, and Mississippi before returning home in 1991 to Morgan County, where he helped establish a blues festival and became a beloved “local character.”

Risqué material remained a staple of Willis's output in recent years. He released 7 albums on Ichiban Records in the 1980s and 1990s, before becoming a journeyman for various labels (Paula, Ifgam, Rockhouse, Deep South, CML, Old School) cutting another 9 albums. A 2008 effort, "The Don of the Blues", was released on the California-based CDS Records imprint. It featured the popular song "Obama". In 2009 he signed with Benevolent Blues and released the terrific “Hit & Run Blues". 

                    Here's "I Won't Give Up" from above album.

In the course of his journeyman career, Willis took the stage at the Old Royal Peacock in Atlanta, backing Jimmy Reed, Ray Charles, Sam Cooke and Big Joe Turner; and played the Apollo with Little Richard and Jackie Wilson. You can glimpse him in “Petey Wheatstraw, the Devil's Son-In-Law,” a blaxploitation flick, and as well as “The Buddy Holly Story.”

Although Chick was a great guitarist and singer he also played drums, keyboards, harmonica and bass. He  had garnered awards and honours from every possible source. A brief sample includes Living Blues Awards’ Best Live Performer of 2006, the award of honorary citizenship of Kansas City, Missouri, and the Jus’ Blues T-Bone Walker Award (twice), Best Down Home Blues Song (2009, 1,2,3,4,5 Shots of Whiskey) and the Lowell Fulson Jus Blues Award (2010). He was also a member of the Blues Hall of Fame.
Chick continued to record and perform across the country and in Europe until mid-2012. He died on December 7, 2013, in Forsyth of complications from lung cancer. He was 79. (Info edited from various sources, mainly Wikipedia)

1 comment:

boppinbob said...

For “The Best Of Chick Willis So Far” go here:

1. Stoop Down Baby Let Your Daddy See 5:46
2. Do The Hucklebuck (Remix) 4:48
3. Ribshack Blues Cafe 4:10
4. I Won't Give Up 3:39
5. Mr. Blues 4:37
6. 1,2,3,4,5 Shots Of Whiskey 3:48
7. Hattie 3:51
8. I Found The Kinda Love 3:51
9. I Want A Big Fat Woman (Live) 5:03
10. I'm The Son (I Like It Like That) 4:10
11. Jack You Up 4:04
12. Bootie Call 3:28
13. Old Man With Freaky Ideas 2:59
14. I Wanna Funk Wid You 3:18
15. Look On Yonder's Wall (Live) 4:36
16. Mother Fuyer (Live) 5:18
17. I Can't Stop Loving You (Live) 6:35