TDR Roots of Rock: WILLIE DIXON. William James Dixon was born in the Hot Bed of the Blues Vicksburg, MS in 1915, and grew up to be a famous Blues Musician, Vocalist, Songwriter, Arranger and Record Producer. He was a Master Player of the Upright Bass, and also played Guitar and Sang. He was one of the best and most prolific songwriters of the Post WWII Era Blues, and with Muddy Waters considered one of the major creators of Chicago Blues.
Willie's songs have been recorded by artists in many different genres and they include, "Hoochie Coochie Man", "I Just Want to Make Love to You", "Little Red Rooster", "My Babe", "Spoonful", and "You Can't Judge a Book by the Cover". He was at Chicago's Chess Records during it's peak period, 1950-1965 and wrote songs for Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, Little Walter, and Bo Diddley.
There's a link between Dixon's work and the relationship between Blues and Rock and Roll working with Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley as they pioneered the New Rock Music. Then his songs were covered by some of the biggest Rock Acts including: Cream, Jeff Beck, The Doors, Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, Steppenwolf, Bob Dylan, and Jimi Hendrix. His Residual Writer's Checks must have been huge in the 60's. Willie Dixon released 21 albums between "Willie's Blues" in 1959 and "Giant of the Blues" in 2008. He played on an incredible number of Sessions during his time at Chess Records on most of their Biggest Artists' Hit Records. Willie was introduced to the Blues when he served time on Mississippi Prison Farms in his Teen Years. Because his mother, Daisy, often rhymed things she said, Willie did that too and wrote poems that would later become song lyrics.
Dixon was a big man, 6 and a half feet Tall when he landed in Chicago in 1936 and took up Boxing, winning an Illinois Golden Gloves Championship in 1937 and became the great Joe Louis' friend and Sparring partner. But Dixon quit that game because he was constantly getting ripped off by his manager and wasn't making much money. So in 1939 he formed a Jazz Group that played and sang Ink Spots Tunes, but his career was interrupted when WWII broke out and he refused to go into the army as a conscientious objector and went to the State Penitentiary for eight months.
In his later years Willie founded the "Blues Heaven Foundation," which works to preserve the Legacy of the Blues and to secure Copyrights and Royalties for Blues Musicians who were exploited in the past. When he died in 1992 of Heart Failure at age 76, his widow Marie took over the Foundation and moved it to Chess Records. Willie Dixon won a Grammy award for Songwriting, was inducted posthumously into the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame in 1994 and the Blues Hall of Fame in 2013. Cedric the Entertainer played him in the 2008 Film based on the History of Chess Records. Here he is Live playing Bass and singing the song he wrote for Muddy Waters "Got My Mojo Working", with decent picture and good sound. @therealdonrocks