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jody williams

biography | discography | awards | selected songs

Jody Williams "The first great stringbender on the Chicago blues scene, Williams provided the stylistic bridge between B.B. King and T-Bone Walker and young firebrands Otis Rush and Buddy Guy, both of whom wholeheartedly absorbed his innovations"
- Bill Dahl

"Williams comes back armed with a tone and a style that'll turn your head around."
- Guitar Player Magazine

The term "legend" is bandied about generously these days. It seems like the mere act of living to a ripe old age is enough to earn this handle all by itself.

In the case of blues guitarist Jody Williams, however, the "legendary" mantle is entirely and gloriously justified. As the first great string bender on the Chicago blues scene, he provided the stylistic bridge between B.B. King and T-Bone Walker (two of his principle influences) and young firebrands Otis Rush and Buddy Guy, both of whom wholeheartedly absorbed his innovations and licks as they modernized the idiom.

As a key Chicago session-guitarist during the 50's whose singular tone, imaginative chord changes, and boundless creativity set him well apart from his peers, Jody added the essential guitar fire to some of the era's greatest blues recordings: Bo Diddley's Who Do You Love, Howlin' Wolf's Forty Four, Billy Boy Arnold's I Wish You Would, and his own shimmering minor key instrumental Lucky Lou. You can hear echoes of Jody in Carlos Santana and Fleetwood Mac's Peter Green, and his impact extends to a legion of contemporary bluesmen on the scene.

Jody was a prolific studio musician during the mid-to-late 1950's. He invigorated Bo Diddley's voodoo-laced 1956 Checker smash Who Do You Love with a barrage of scalding fretwork. Williams' slashing axe graced sessions with Jimmy Rogers (One Kiss), Floyd Dixon (Alarm Clock Blues), Jimmy Witherspoon (Ain't Nobody's Business), Otis Rush (Groaning The Blues), and Billy Boy Arnold (I Ain't Got You).

Williams' studio debut as a leader came at the end of 1955 with two authoritative upbeat vocals, Lookin' For My Baby and Easy Lovin' for Chicago deejay Al Benson's Blue Lake logo with Willie Dixon slapping the bass. At the top of 1957, Williams cut his two-sided classic Lucky Lou b/w You May for Chess' Argo label. Lucky Lou's startling melody line was the inspiration for the blazing intro to Otis Rush's classic All Your Love (I Miss Loving), cut the following year for Cobra Records. Jody kept busy during the early 1960's but by the late 60's he was tired of getting short changed on recognition and financial rewards, and he had a family to support. He stopped playing the guitar, stopped going to clubs, stopped listening to music. In a strange twist of irony, Williams the guitarist that everyone copied, took a job as an engineer for the Xerox Corporation.

In 2002 he emerged from retirement with the Dick Shurman produced album Return of A Legend which became the vehicle to re-launch his career. Legend received a 2003 WC Handy Award for Comeback Album of the Year, and Williams was heralded by Living Blues readers and critics as "Best Guitarist" for that year.

In 2004 he released "You Left Me In The Dark." Williams once again teamed up with producer Dick Shurman to record material that continues to show his strength as a songwriter and a master of the Chicago Blues guitar style. Living Blues voted Jody Williams "Best Guitarist" and "You Left Me In The Dark" as "Best Contemporary Blues" recording in the 2005 Critics poll.

2005 Living Blues Critics Awards
Best Musician - Guitar
Best New Recording/Contemporary

2003 W.C Handy Awards
Comeback Album of The Year - Winner
Traditional Album of the Year - Nominee

2003 Living Blues Critics Awards
Best Musician - Guitar
Comeback Artist of the Year

2003 Living Blues Readers Awards
Best Musician - Guitar

selected discography
as leader
You Left Me In The Dark - 2004 Evidence Music

Return Of A Legend - 2001 Evidence Records

Lucky Lou b/w You May - 45 on Argo

Moaning For Molasses b/w Hideout - 45 on Smash

Cool Playing Blues - Relic (compilation of early tracks)

selected songs as guitarist
With Bo Diddley on Chess: Who Do You Love & Diddy Wah Diddy

With Howling Wolf on Chess: Evil & Forty Four

With Jimmy Rogers on Chess: One Kiss

With Billy Boy Arnold on VeeJay: I Ain't Got You & Wish You Would

With Otis Spann on Chess: Five Spot & Must Have Been The Devil

With Otis Rush On Cobra: Groaning The Blues & Three Times A Fool

selected songs:
Billy's Blues

Don't Get Caught Sleeping In My Bed

Jive Spot

I'll Be There

Lifelong Lover

Lucky Lou

Moaning For Molasses

What Kind Of Gal Is That?

You Left Me In The Dark

You May

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