Little Willie John

So, if y’all really need your soul singers to be the ‘real deal’ (by which it seems folk mean ‘lived a life of wretched misery all the better to entertain me’) then Little Willie John ain’t gonna disappoint you. No indeed. The last of seven kids (including his sister Mable, a Raelette and later solo artist on Stax) he started up singing in his teens, signing for King records in 1955 at the age of just seventeen. And you hear people saying how the young ‘uns grow up fast these days. He’s much loved here at the Old Record Club for writing ‘Fever’ (which pops up on at least one of the mixes). Later a hit for all sorts of folks his wonderful, probably the best, version was his biggest hit, far outselling Peggy Lee’s at the time. He sang with the kind of clear, sweet voice that the equally ill-starred Sam Cooke did and man could he deliver a song. James Brown opened for him in his early days and was a massive fan, later releasing a tribute album.

In 1961 John was arrested after stabbing a man dead in a Seattle bar. Convicted of manslaughter he died of pneumonia in Washington State Penitentiary in 1968, he was only 31.

Talk To Me, Talk To Me

Take My Love (I Want To Give It All To You)

She Thinks I Still Care

~ by stagger lee on July 15, 2010.

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