I was recently asked to name one of my biggest blues influences, my response, “Willie Dixon.”  Who?

I’m sure most people have heard of Muddy Waters, BB King, Howlin Wolf, John Lee Hooker and Stevie Ray Vaughan, but few had heard of Willie. Well, let’s just say, if you like the blues, you’ve heard of Willie (maybe without knowing it). He is the most recorded blues songwriter ever. His songs have been covered by such artists as Jimi Hendrix, Muddy Waters, Led Zep, Dylan, The Stones and Cream, and he has produced such great artists as Bo Diddley and Chuck Berry.

All of those accomplishments have secured his induction in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, but to me, I’m most influenced by his bass playing. Let’s face it, playing bass in a blues band can be pretty boring at times, but Willie on his old Kay upright incorporated elements of jazz and slap to blues bass while still remaining the solid backbone of the band. Listen to his playing on the Big Three Trio’s songs and his playing with Memphis Slim on the Live in Paris record. AMAZING!

Willie also took the bass from the back of the stage to the forefront as he sang lead vocals on many of the songs with Memphis Slim and the Big Three Trio. Finally, Willie started the Blues Heaven Foundation (bluesheaven.com) which he used to help the old blues players go back and secure copyrights and royalties that were stolen from them in the past. The Foundation is also dedicated to educating children in schools on the history of the blues and offering music scholarships.

We cover a few of Willie’s tunes in the band and hopefully continue to spread the music he loved so much.

That's the reason I always say about music, the blues are the roots and the other musics are the fruits. Without the roots, you have no fruits so it's better keeping the roots alive because it means better fruits from now on.
~Willie Dixon


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