Chick Willis

Daddy B. Nice's #60 ranked Southern Soul Artist



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"Obama (Tell Me Why You Like Obama)"

Chick Willis

December 8, 2013: Chick Willis Passes

Author David Whiteis (Southern Soul Blues) reports that Chick "Stoop Down Baby" Willis passed away last night, Saturday, December 7, 2013.

The longtime, Atlanta-based blues and R&B star had been reported in November to be suffering from lung cancer. See story.

Previous to his passing, an Atlanta benefit for Mr. Willis had been planned by the Georgia Legacy Foundation at Northside Tavern for December 23rd. See story.

The official Chick Willis website posted the following statement:

"The Stoop Down Man"

Our beloved Chick Willis has passed this Saturday evening December 7th. The family ask for help with his finale resting. We ask for any help you can by donating at any Bank Of America. Make check out to:

The Chick Willis Foundation.
Account # 334040908303,

Lets keep The Stoop Down Man in our memories.

God bless Thank You.



Watch for further details as they come in. DBN.

***********

September 1, 2012: NEW ALBUMS (PLURAL) ALERT!

Sample/Buy Chick Willis' Blues Me Before You Lose Me CD.

Sample/Buy Chick Willis' Let the Blues Speak for Itself CD.

Sample/Buy Chick Willis' Mr. Blues: The Best of...So Far CD.

***********

To automatically link to all the awards, citations and other references to Chick Willis on the Southern Soul website, go to:

Willis, Chick, in Daddy B. Nice's Comprehensive Index.



***********

November 1, 2010:

Chick Willis's "Obama" is much more than a political statement. It will endure not only because of its theme--the theme of Obama--which after all was the subject of many other songs of less musical value over the last couple of years.

"Obama" the song transcends even "Obama" the theme. It's a great song and quite likely the finest song Chick Willis has ever recorded. You might call it an instance of the right artist being in the right place at the right time.

The song is anchored by a confident, no-frills bluesman at the peak of his craft backed by a zesty, hard-hitting female chorus right out of Ray Charles' "Hit The Road, Jack."

(There are two versions: the rougher, flying-by-the-seat-of-your-pants-sounding original--my personal favorite--and the jazzier, technically-superior remake--also good.) Finally, "Obama" closes with a sweet little chord change that makes you want to play the tune all over again.

So as of today I've nudged "Obama" into the number one spot on this artist guide: my recommendation to readers as the best single representation of the art of Chick Willis.

--Daddy B. Nice

*************************

Daddy B. Nice's Original Critique:

Chick "Stoop Down" Willis is the most interesting, if not the best, guitarist in contemporary R&B. Willis doesn't have the spare, unerring enunciation of jazz great Jim Hall, nor does he have the stinging lyricism of B. B. King, but he has elements of both. His style on the obscure but delightful instrumental "I Play My Guitar" is as happy and distinctive as a lamb playing in a pasture.

The instrumental occupies an overlooked but treasured niche in all musical genres. R&B lovers immediately think of "Green Onions" by Booker T. & the MG's (recently redone--and redone well--by young Southern Soul artist Eric Perkins). Rock and Rollers most likely remember Duane Eddy or The Ventures, and cruising to "Perfidia."

Chick Willis's "I Play My Guitar," stands solidly in that instrumental tradition. Without a hint of pretension, it seduces the listener with a guitar style that seems to "talk." There's a friendliness, a neighborliness, to the playing.

Willis, of course, is not only an instrumentalist. His signature song has long been "Stoop Down Baby (Let Your Baby See)," a piece of crowd-pleasing vaudeville that climaxed his chitlin' circuit act for years and earned him the marquee moniker of Chick "Stoop Down" Willis. The light, fast and sexy bounce of "Stoop Down" recalls the early R&B and R&R of Fats Domino, Chuck Berry, and Big Joe Turner.

But as Willis has aged, his mastery of the blues has come to the forefront--not only his guitar, but his vocals. And nowhere is this more evident than on the soul-drenched blues, "One Eyed Woman."

Willis attacks the song with the nonchalant confidence of a master.

"Oh yeah,
Did you ever see a one-eyed woman cry?
Oh yeah,
Did you ever see a one-eyed woman cry?

The saddest thing about the woman,
Tears don't come out but just one eye."

The lyrics (which Willis sings "straight," not in jest) attest to the blues base of the song, but no lyric sheet can do justice to the atmospheric m?lange of the recording, complete with biting Willis guitar, tasty horns and steamy organ.

"You know my one-eyed woman
She done the best she can.
She searched the world over,
Trying to find her a one-eyed man."

The "one-eyed" reference is perverse, humorous, weird and just about every other qualifier you can imagine. But the overall effect is exotic and unforgettable. "One-Eyed Woman" is blues that rivals the best of Bobby Rush, Little Milton and B.B. King.

--Daddy B. Nice


About Chick Willis

Robert (Chick) Willis was born in Cabiness, Georgia in 1934. A guitar-playing genius from a musical family that made Atlanta their home during his formative years, Willis was already backing up early rhythm and blues masters such as Big Joe Turner, Jimmy Reed, and Ray Charles while still in his teens.

He joined his famous cousin, Chuck Willis, known as the "King Of Stroll" (an early line-dance rock and roll craze) in 1954, at first as his valet and chauffeur. After Chuck died in 1958, Chick joined bluesman Elmore James' band while honing the stage act that would eventually produce "Stoop Down Baby," his off-color, chitlin' circuit anthem, first recorded in Kalamazoo, Michigan on La Val Records in 1972.

One story contends that Willis developed the provocative lyrics to "Stoop Down" while working as a carnival barker in black hamlets of the Bible Belt. "Stoop Down" is reported to have sold over three million copies, a staggering number for a small-label R&B song. "Stoop Down Baby" and other Willis favorites such as "Motherfuyer" were too explicit to garner radio play (even club play offended some listeners), yet word-of-mouth and consistent touring over the decades kept Willis's act alive.

Willis gained renewed visibility and credibility with the resurgence of traditional rhythm and blues in the 90's. Ichiban Records issued a steady series of Willis LP's, and fans continued to respond to his bawdy humor. But Willis's best work in the late 90's and early 00's has been straight-ahead blues imbued with so many time-tested nuances and so much honest feeling that Willis' reputation could easily stand on such recent tunes as "One-Eyed Woman," "Footprints In My Bed" and "Black Widow Spider."

Willis's highest-profile CD's of the 00's--from which those songs are taken--are From The Heart And Soul (Rock House, 2001) and American Roots: Blues (Ichiban, 2002).

*****************

Discography:

1972 Stoop Down Baby...Let Your Daddy See J(Collectables)

1988 Now (Ichiban )

1990 Footprints in My Bed (Ichiban)

1991 Back to the Blues (Ichiban)

1992 Holdin' Hands with the Blues (Ichiban)

1992 Nasty Chick (Ichiban)

1994 I Got a Big Fat Woman (Ichiban)

1998 Blue Class Blues (Paula)

2000 Y2K Recorded "Live" (Ifgam)

2001 From The Heart And Soul (Rock House)

2002 I Won't Give Up (Deep South)

2005 I Did It All (CML)

2006 Cookin' the Blues (Old School)

2008 The Don of the Blues (CDS )

2009 Hit & Run Blues (Benevolent Blues)

2010 Mr. Blues: The Best of...So Far (Benevolent Blues)

2011 Let the Blues Speak for Itself

2012 Blues Me Before You Lose Me





Song's Transcendent Moment

"He'll see that your kids get an education
That he or she deserves,
He'll see that your kids get an education
He or she deserves,
So they can hold their head up high, dog,
When they face the world."


Tidbits

1. Willis's song "I Want A Big Fat Woman" was nominated for the W.C. Handy award in 1988, and he was honored with the Stoop Down Music Festival in 2000.

2. Update: June 30, 2008

It's too early to etch anything in granite, but your Daddy B. Nice has a hunch Chick Willis's single "Obama" ("Tell Me Why You Like Obama")--from his new CD The Don Of The Blues--will captivate Southern Soul and chitlin' circuit blues deejays the same way Robert "Dr. Feelgood" Potts' "My In-Laws (Ain't Nothin' But Outlaws)" did over the past six months.

(Bulletin: "Obama" by Chick Willis is the #3-ranked song on Daddy B. Nice's Top 10 "Breaking" Southern Soul Singles chart for July 2008.)

This prediction isn't based on the fact that the subject--Democratic nominee for President Barack Obama--is the first major-party, African-American candidate for the presidency of the United States, although that news certainly has the R&B community buzzing with excitement, and will guarantee a bunch of sales in and of itself.

But Willis' "Obama" has a couple other things going for it which it shares with Potts' "My In-Laws."

One: without seeming "gimmicky," as the recent spate of "high price of gas" songs (Dicky Williams, Simeo) comes close to being, "Obama" mines the socio-political world that confronts us every day on the evening news. It's topical and it's humorous. That kind of "novelty" song--done well--has just the kind of break-out potential to bring new converts to the Southern Soul genre.

Two, and just as important, "Obama" (like "My In-Laws") is anchored by a solid blues format executed by a confident, no-frills bluesman at the peak of his craft. And, like the proverbial "frosting on the cake," "Obama" has a zesty, hard-hitting female chorus right out of the Ray Charles "Hit The Road, Jack" manual.

Last but not least, it closes with a sweet little chord change that makes you want to play the tune all over again.

3. January 16, 2009: UPDATE

Chick Willis has released a new remix single of "Obama" ("Tell Me Why You Like Obama"), which sacrifices a little of the tattered charm of the original for a more polished and technically-superior version in time for the inauguration of Barack Obama. (CDS Records)

"Obama" charted at Number #23 on Daddy B. Nice's Top 25 Southern Soul Singles of 2008. DBN



If You Liked. . . You'll Love

If you liked Gladys Knight & The Pips' "Midnight Train To Georgia," you'll love Chick Willis's "Obama."


Honorary "B" Side

"One-Eyed Woman"



4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 
Sample or Buy Obama (Tell Me Why You Like Obama) by Chick Willis
Obama (Tell Me Why You Like Obama)


CD: The Don Of The Blues

Sample or Buy
The Don Of the Blues


5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 
Sample or Buy One-Eyed Woman by Chick Willis
One-Eyed Woman


CD: From The Heart And Soul
Label: Rock House

Sample or Buy
From The Heart And Soul


5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 
Sample or Buy I Play My Guitar by Chick Willis
I Play My Guitar


CD: Unknown



4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 
Sample or Buy 1,2,3,4,5 Shots Of Whiskey by Chick Willis
1,2,3,4,5 Shots Of Whiskey


CD: Mr. Blues: The Best of...So Far
Label: Benevolent Blues

Sample or Buy
Mr. Blues: The Best of...So Far


4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 
Sample or Buy Stoop Down Baby Let Your Daddy See by Chick Willis
Stoop Down Baby Let Your Daddy See


CD: Stoop Down Baby... Let Your Baby See
Label: Collectables

Sample or Buy
Stoop Down Baby....Let Your Baby See


4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 
Sample or Buy Why We Need Obama by Chick Willis
Why We Need Obama


CD: Blues Me Before You Lose Me

Sample or Buy
Blues Me Before You Lose Me


3 Stars 3 Stars 3 Stars 
Sample or Buy Black Widow Spider by Chick Willis
Black Widow Spider


CD: From The Heart And Soul
Label: Rock House

Sample or Buy
From The Heart And Soul


3 Stars 3 Stars 3 Stars 
Sample or Buy Footprints In My Bed by Chick Willis
Footprints In My Bed


CD: American Roots: Blues
Label: Ichiban

Sample or Buy
American Roots: Blues


3 Stars 3 Stars 3 Stars 
Sample or Buy Keep Singing The Blues by Chick Willis
Keep Singing The Blues


CD: I Won't Give Up



3 Stars 3 Stars 3 Stars 
Sample or Buy Let Me Jack You Baby by Chick Willis
Let Me Jack You Baby


CD: I Did It All
Label: CML

Sample or Buy
I Did It All


3 Stars 3 Stars 3 Stars 
Sample or Buy My Fannie Mae by Chick Willis
My Fannie Mae


CD: Let the Blues Speak for Itself
Label: Benevolent Blues

Sample or Buy
Let the Blues Speak For Itself


3 Stars 3 Stars 3 Stars 
Sample or Buy Someday Baby by Chick Willis
Someday Baby


CD: From The Heart And Soul
Label: Rock House

Sample or Buy
From The Heart And Soul


2 Stars 2 Stars 
Sample or Buy Betty Boo by Chick Willis
Betty Boo


CD: From The Heart And Soul
Label: Rock House

Sample or Buy
From The Heart And Soul


2 Stars 2 Stars 
Sample or Buy Got To Find A Cure by Chick Willis
Got To Find A Cure


CD: I Won't Give Up



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