Willie Dixon (Chuck Berry, Howlin’ Wolf)

Willie Dixon_opt.gif Willie Dixon_opt.gif

By Thomas Semioli

“The blues are the roots and the other musics are the fruits. It’s better keeping the roots alive, because it means better fruits from now on. The blues are the roots of all American music. As long as American music survives, so will the blues.” William James Dixon

We revere him as “the poet laurate of the blues,” and “the father of modern Chicago blues.” To paraphrase KYBP / Dr. Winston O’Boogie, if you had to give the bass another name – call it Willie Dixon! Every rock song ever composed bears his imprint. The Rolling Stones, The Doors, Cream, Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, Johnny Winter… to Gary Clark Jr. and Greta Van Fleet would not exist without him. Willie’s influence on popular music is incalculable.

Born in Vicksburg, Mississippi, Dixon moved to the Windy City in 1936 and commenced to anchoring such popular acts as The Five Breezes, The Four Jumps of Jive, and The Big Three Trio. As a member of the Chess Records staff in the 1950s and 60s, Dixon arranged, produced, composed, and played bass on slabs spanning Chuck Berry, Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Litter Walter, and Sonny Boy Williamson II, to cite a very select few.

An artists’ rights activist (Blues Heaven Foundation), among other endeavors, Dixon’s amalgamation of jazz, jive, jump and Chicago blues and permutations thereof endures generation after generation after generation.

You could argue the Willie Dixon, a bassist, is the most influential musician ever…

“Spoonful” https://youtu.be/6HMafOfhAus

“I Can’t Quit You Darling” https://youtu.be/rpxNJcNRwFA

“Hoochie Coochie Man” with Stephen Stills https://youtu.be/-q8R6cb_7tM

“I’m Ready” https://youtu.be/GMKM7v3Aydc

“I Just Want to Make Love to You” by Muddy Waters https://youtu.be/RnlvHP1AXPo

“Back Door Man” https://youtu.be/5IaWmphWLro

“I Ain’t Superstitious” by Howlin’ Wolf https://youtu.be/aIkwAoWqE6E

“My Babe” by Little Walter https://youtu.be/duRp_avXtMM

“Wang Dang Doodle” by Koko Taylor https://youtu.be/_w6IY0v-0pA

Willie Dixon’s Legacy

Paul Page (Ian Hunter Rant Band, John Cale) One of my favorite quotes of all time was in his book I Am The Blues. Talking about about recording he said something to the effect of “the goal is to record a performance, not perform a recording”. I’m reminded of that every time I find myself crawling up my own ass in the studio. Brilliant.

Jeff Ganz (Johnny Winter, The Hit Men….) Willie was simply delightful and very friendly. He is truly one of my long time bass, vocal, and songwriting heroes!

Jeff Ganz and Willie Dixon Jeff Ganz and Willie Dixon

Jeff Ganz and Willie Dixon