Thursday, December 13, 2018

Jody Williams - Lucky Lou

Jody Williams passed away at the beginning of the month.  He was not only a great bluesman, but he led a most unusual life.  He was childhood friends with Bo Diddley who mentored him.  They began by playing guitar on the streets of Chicago.  They got some gigs which led to Williams getting jobs as  a session guitarist at Chess Records.  That's where he met Howlin' Wolf, who hired him for his band.

Through the 1950s and into the '60s Williams was a prominent blues guitarist.  But a 1961 legal dispute between Chess Records and Mickey Baker made him feel "ripped off" - Baker took one of his riffs without credit and Williams got nothing out of the court case.  Feeling disgusted, be got trained as a Xerox technician and had a 25 year career fixing photocopier machines.

But when he retired from Xerox, he felt he needed to do something to keep himself occupied.  His wife suggested that he pick his guitar back up, and did a gig at the 2000 Chicago Blues Festival.  An album deal came out of that, 2002's Return Of A Legend.  He kept performing until his health deteriorated in 2014.

You wonder how much more great music he would have made if the music business weren't, well, the music business.

Rest in peace.


Old NFO said...

Great music, thanks!

SiGraybeard said...

Quite a story - from jazz studio musician to Xerox field tech for 25 years and back to jazz musician.

The intersection of personality qualities to be successful at both jazz musician and electromechanical technician isn't enormous. It helps to have some amount of "the knack" to be successful fixing copiers, while it doesn't seem related to playing jazz guitar. Maybe he was always good at fixing guitars or something else, so I can imagine him saying, "screw this backstabbing business, I can fix stuff for living".