Monday, July 27, 2009

On Shuffle: "Underground Legends"

Going back to some old posts. I found out that Kings of Leon also love this singer! Cool!

Little Willie John (1937-1968)

Ever heard the song "Fever." Well, many artists have recorded it over the years, from Peggy Lee to Beyonce. But, did you know that Little Willie John was the first person to record the now standard song (and he recorded the best version!) The 5'4" (yes, he was that short!) singer had a powerhouse, soulful voice that definitely made up for his small stature. William Edgar John started his singing career at fourteen in a Gospel group with his siblings and performed with Count Basie. At eighteen, he had his first hit with "All Around the World." Fourteen of his songs, including "All Around the World," "Talk to Me, Talk to Me," "Let Them Talk," "Sleep," "Leave My Kitten Alone" (which was covered by the Beatles), and "Suffering with the Blues," were hits on the RnB charts. His vocal style became a precursor to Soul music and artists like James Brown have paid tribute to him.

Although Willie was a great singer, he had a short-temper and a large insecurity about his height, which led to his alcoholism and bad behavior. This soon came to end his career when he was convicted in 1966 of manslaughter for a fatal stabbing. He was serving a 8-2o year sentence at Walla Walla State Penitentiary under suspicious circumstances. The official record was that he died of a heart attack, but others says it was either asphyxiation or from injuries from prison beating. Either way it was still a tragic loss because he was such a great talent and would have been as legendary as Sam Cooke and Marvin Gaye. Yet, he lives on as a very influential person in music as many musicians from the Beatles to Robert Palmer to James Brown to Fleetwood Mac have covered his songs.


Need Your Love So Bad

Suffering with the Blues

I'm Shaking

Talk to Me, Talk to Me

Sleep (ignore the Batman intro)

All Around the World

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