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Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Boogie Bill Webb born 24 March 1924

Boogie Bill Webb (March 24, 1924 – August 22, 1990) was an American Louisiana blues and R&B guitarist, singer and songwriter. Webb's own style of music combined Mississippi country blues with New Orleans R&B. His best known recordings were "Bad Dog" and "Drinkin' and Stinkin'". Despite a lengthy, albeit stuttering, career, Webb nevertheless only released one album.

Born 1924 in Jackson, MS, Webb received his first guitar -- a cigar box with strings made of screen wire -- at the age of eight; his style was most profoundly influenced by local bluesman Tommy Johnson, an entertainment fixture at the myriad fish-fry dinners organized by Webb's mother. He acquired a real guitar as a teenager, and in the years to follow split his time between Jackson and New Orleans, their respective musical cultures shaping the mutant blues of Webb's later work.

Circa 1947, he won a Jackson talent show and was awarded a role in the musical short film The Jackson Jive for his efforts; he nevertheless settled in New Orleans in 1952, and via longtime friend Fats Domino he was introduced to R&B great Dave Bartholomew, who helped Webb land a deal with Imperial Records.

The following year, he issued his recorded debut, "Bad Dog," an archetypal slab of country boogie that found few takers in the face of growing listener demand for more urbanized R&B. A frustrated Webb left New Orleans for Chicago, where he spent the next five years toiling in a series of factory jobs. 

He continued playing guitar at house parties and sat in with John Lee Hooker, Jimmy Reed, and Chuck Berry and thanks to the influence of Windy City bluesmen like Muddy Waters, he was an even more original musician by the time he returned to the Crescent City in 1959.

While working by day as a longshoreman, Webb gigged only infrequently, but in 1968 he recorded several songs for folklorist David Evans later issued on the Arhoolie LP Roosevelt Holts and His Friends. The album proved a major favorite among European blues enthusiasts, several of whom even travelled to New Orleans to meet Webb in person. The 1972 compilation album, The Legacy of Tommy Johnson contained five tracks performed by Webb.

After multiple invitations to tour Europe, he finally accepted an offer to play the 1982 Dutch Utreck Festival. In 1989, thanks to funding from the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities, he also issued his first full-length LP, the Flying Fish release Drinkin' and Stinkin', but he died on August 22, 1990, at the age of 66. (Info mainly from All Music)

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