by Robert Wilkinson
Today would have been the 99th birthday of the legendary Hoochie Coochie Back Door Man himself, Mister Willie Dixon.
In case you didn't know who this force of Nature was, here's a little from Wikipedia:
Willie Dixon (July 1, 1915 – January 29, 1992) was an American blues musician, vocalist, songwriter, arranger and record producer. A Grammy Award winner who was proficient on both the upright bass and the guitar and as a vocalist, Dixon is perhaps best known as one of the most prolific songwriters of his time. Next to Muddy Waters, Dixon is recognized as the most influential person in shaping the post-World War II sound of the Chicago blues.
Dixon's songs have been recorded by countless musicians in many genres as well as by various ensembles in which he participated. A short list of the his most famous compositions includes “Little Red Rooster,” “Hoochie Coochie Man,” “Spoonful,” “Back Door Man,” “I Just Want to Make Love to You,” “My Babe,” “Wang Dang Doodle,” and “I Can’t Quit You Baby.” These tunes were written during the peak of Chess Records, 1950–1965, and performed by Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, and Little Walter; they influenced a worldwide generation of musicians.
Dixon also was an important link between the blues and rock and roll working with Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley in the late 1950s. His songs were covered by some of the biggest artists of more recent times, such as Bob Dylan, Cream, the Doors, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, and The Rolling Stones.
Here are a few from the blues master!
These were written by Willie Dixon, often based in pre-existing blues standards, and made famous by Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters, and many others!
From 1960, a live television performance by Muddy Waters of Willie Dixon's "Hoochie Coochie Man."
From 1963, here’s 8 minutes of pure gold with Muddy Waters, Otis Spann, Memphis Slim, Willie Dixon and others doing "Bye Bye Blues”
From his 1969 studio album, here's Howlin' Wolf doing “Back Door Man”
Here’s a video clip from a 1969 Doors concert, very live and out there, of “Back Door Man”
Here’s the original Howlin' Wolf studio version of “Little Red Rooster”
Here’s the original studio version by Howlin’ Wolf of “Wang Dang Doodle”
For your enjoyment, the Grateful Dead with Bruce Hornsby in 1991 doing their version of “Wang Dang Doodle”
From the 1988 Bridge School benefit concert, Jerry Garcia, Neil Young, and Bob Weir giving us “Wang Dang Doodle”
Here’s a great studio version by Koko Taylor of “Wang Dang Doodle”
From their 1971 album, here’s the Savoy Brown Blues Band studio version of “Wang Dang Doodle”
From the 1970 “Howlin’ Wolf London Sessions” album featuring Eric Clapton, Stevie Winwood, and the rhythm section of the Rolling Stones, Bill Wyman and Charlie Watts (with Ian Stewart on keyboards), the studio version of “Wang Dang Doodle” and “I Ain’t Superstitious”
Here's the original Howlin' Wolf studio version of "I Ain't Superstitious"
Here’s the Jeff Beck Group with Rod Stewart live in 1968 set to stills, cranking out “I Ain’t Superstitious”
Here’s Jeff and Rod in a recent live video performance in LA of “I Ain’t Superstitious”
For our closing number, here’s the original Howlin' Wolf studio version of “Spoonful”
Here’s an awesome rare 9 minute live video performance from 1967 in London’s Revolution Club by Cream doing a very heavy version of “Spoonful” (If you don’t check out any other clip, this is the one to see. Wow!)
Here’s a fantastic live video clip from the 2012 Howlin’ for Hubert Concert at the legendary Apollo Theater featuring Eric Clapton, Keith Richards, and James Cotton cranking out “Spoonful”
And finally, from the 2005 Crèam reunion at the Royal Albert Hall, a fantastic live video performance of “Spoonful”
Here’s a great live b/w television performance by the legendary Otis Rush of “I Can’t Quit You Baby”
Here’s the original studio version by Willie Dixon of the song Led Zeppelin made famous, “I Can’t Quit You Baby”
And here’s the Led Zeppelin studio version of “I Can’t Quit You Baby”
Here’s a great live clip of Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, and Johnny Winters performing “I Just Want to Make Love To You”
To close today’s set, we have a full hour video of Willie Dixon with Muddy Waters, Johnny Winter, Mike Bloomfield, and a lot of incredible stars on Soundstage’s 1974 “Blues Summit in Chicago” This one features Harry Chapin, Mike Bloomfield, Nick Gravenites, Buddy Miles, Dr. John, Junior Wells, Koko Taylor, Randy Newman, the Pointer Sisters, Tom Waits, Roberta Flack, and Jose Feliciano!
For the encore, we have another full hour video of the great Willie Dixon from 1984, “Willie Dixon - I Am The Blues”
Since he wrote or co-wrote over 500 songs, many of which have become blues classics, if you’re interested in his discography and the many groups that have covered his tunes, check out this List of songs written by Willie Dixon.
Thanks for the tunes, blues Master. I’m sure you and Muddy and Chester and Buddy and Junior and Mike are having a get-down blast on whatever frequency of the bardo you guys are hangin’ out in, cranking out the finest blues ever made!
© Copyright 2014 Robert Wilkinson