Willie Nix (August 6, 1922 – July 8, 1991) was an American Chicago blues singer and drummer, active in Memphis, Tennessee, United States, in the 1940s and 1950s.
Willie Nix came out of the rural South with a great beat and a way with lyrics that made him something of a topical urban poet. Despite recordings for RPM and Sun, and then Chance in Chicago, he never advanced beyond the ranks of the also-rans in the quest for blues success, in either Memphis or Chicago; however, if anyone ever deserved to do better based on the evidence that's left behind, it was Willie Nix.
Born in Memphis, as a child he learned to tap dance, later working as a teenager as part dancer, part comedian, with the Rabbit Foot Minstrels. This led to work in various variety shows in the 1940s, and Nix later became a part of the blues scene that grew up around Beale Street. His musical work saw him appear on local radio with Robert Lockwood Jr., and work alongside Willie Love, Joe Willie Wilkins and Sonny Boy Williamson II, billed as the Four Aces, who toured the Deep South.
Nix joined B.B. King and Joe Hill Louis for appearances on Memphis radio, and worked with The Beale Streeters during the late '40s. He made his first records in Memphis for RPM in 1951, and cut sides for Chess Records' Checker offshoot in 1952. Nix wrote the songs "Nervous Wreck" and "Try Me One More Time", and reworked others such as Catfish Blues and Curtis Jones' Lonesome Bedroom Blues.
Sam Philips signed him up as "the Memphis Blues Boy" for Sun in early 1953, as a singing drummer with a band, and he later cut sides for Art Sheridan's Chance label in Chicago. He worked with Elmore James, Sonny Boy Williamson, Johnny Shines, and Memphis Slim during the mid '50s, but at the end of the decade was back in Memphis, and did a short stretch in prison late in the decade. In the late 1950s Nix was briefly a member of Willie Cobbs' band.
The next twenty years saw Nix perform sporadically, and as his health declined, his behaviour became more eccentric. He did not record again, although his mid-1950s work is held in high regard for his lyrical dexterity and compelling beat.
Nix never saw any success as a recording artist, and never stayed with one label long enough to record anything resembling an album's worth of material. His work appears on various label compilations, however, and is distinctive for his driving beat and his extraordinary cleverness with lyrics, especially the Chance sides.
Nix died in Leland, Mississippi, in 1991. (Info edited from AMG & Wikipedia)