Get this crazy baby off my head!


Jody Williams

Jody Williams - Return of a Legend - 2002 - Evidence

During the 50's, Jody Williams was a major Chicago session-guitarist with a unique tone, and a brilliant inventive chord change technique. He is a highly original player, who left his unmistakable stamp on many great blues recordings, including recordings by Bo Diddley, Howlin' Wolf', and Billy Boy Arnold. He has influenced guitar legends like Carlos Santana, and Peter Green. This album received a 2003 WC Handy Award for Comeback Album of the Year, and it was well deserved. Jody Williams' solo recordings are extremely sparse, which is a great pity, as the man is a hugely talented artist., but it is important to remember that he hardly did any playing from 1970 until 2000. However, quality always counts more than quantity, and this album is pure quality, and VHR by A.O.O.F.C. Check out his 2004 album, "You Left Me In The Dark" and his 1977 six track "Leading Brand" album.


1.Lucky Lou
2.Come Over to My House
3.Lifelong Lover
4.You May
5.Moanin' for Molasses
6.Monkey Business
7.I'm Coming Back in Again
8.She Found a Fool and Bumped His Head
9.Jive Spot
10.Brown Eyes and Big Thighs
11.Wham Bam Thank You Ma'am
12.What You Gonna Do?
13.Henpecked and Happy

All songs composed by Jody Williams


Jody Williams (Guitar), (Maracas), (Vocals)
Rusty Zinn (Guitar), (Vocals)
Sean Costello (Guitar), (Vocals), (Voices)
Ronnie Baker Brooks (Guitar), (Guitar (Rhythm))
Tinsley Ellis (Guitar), (Vocals), (Voices)
Harlan Terson (Bass)
Kenny Smith (Drums)
Allen Batts (Organ), (Piano)
Hank Ford (Sax (Tenor))
Willie Henderson (Sax (Baritone))
Kenny Anderson (Trumpet)
Billy Boy Arnold (Harp), (Vocals)


The boastful title is no exaggeration; this is a welcome return for the classic Chicago blues sideman, who, primarily because of the misfortune of his music being exploited by other musicians, took a self-imposed retirement for nearly 30 years. It's especially rewarding since Williams -- whose work you hear on early Howlin' Wolf, Otis Spann, Bo Diddley, Billy Boy Arnold (who guests here) sides -- hadn't played a lick during that time, keeping his guitar stashed under his bed. He sounds like he never put the instrument away on this album, the first cohesive disc under his own name ever. Aided by comparative youngsters Tinsley Ellis, Ronnie Baker Brooks, and Rusty Zinn, along with a 21-year-old Sean Costello, Williams holds the spotlight like the pro his is. Though well into his sixties when this was recorded in 2001, he sounds remarkably vibrant, completely confident, and totally in his element. Whether reprising past glories like the magnificent instrumental "Moanin' for Molasses" along with Costello (who had revived the tune as the title track to his third release) or "Lucky Lou," which most blues fans will immediately recognize as the opening to Otis Rush's "All Your Love" (but was nicked from Williams), or writing new originals like the slow blues of "She Found a Fool and Bumped His Head," the guitarist sounds like he's thrilled to be recording again. That enthusiasm infects the band and pervades this album with a glow all too seldom felt when bluesmen attempt comebacks, especially after laying low as long as Williams has. Between his clean, jazzy yet direct blues style, the remarkably sympathetic band, and wonderfully understated production from Dick Shurman (the man heavily credited with enticing Williams back from obscurity), there are no missteps on this return. It's a tasteful showcase for one of the blues' lesser-known yet classic stars, and will hopefully be the beginning of a new lease on life for Jody Williams. © Hal Horowitz, All Music Guide

If you listen to some of the old stuff by Howlin' Wolf like "Evil," "I Have a Little Girl," or Bo Diddley's "Who Do You Love," you've heard Jody Williams' guitar. Jody worked the Chicago blues circuit in the 1950's at clubs like Silvio's and sat in on some of the most recognizable music ever to come out of 2120 South Michigan Avenue, the home of Chess Records. He had a hit in the late 50's with "Lucky Lou" and Tinsley Ellis plays right alongside Jody on some very complicated and original blues progressions on this CD. Jody Williams' story is a sad story of what might have been, big time. His blazing guitar work was picked up by less than scrupulous folks, and writer's credits, and subsequent royalties, eluded Jody through a series of misunderstandings and outright theft of his work as a bluesman ascendant. Forty-plus years ago, he put his guitar under his bed and focused on his family and his day job. We're very fortunate that he brought his "Red Lightning Gibson" back out, and Williams sounds as fresh today as he did on those legendary Chess recordings. Chicago blues harpman extraordinaire Billy Boy Arnold, one of Jody's bandmates from the 50's, sings "I'm Coming Back in Again" and Rusty Zinn helps out with "Brown Eyes and Big Thighs," an entertaining romp that's a lot of fun. For some blazing Chicago blues guitar work, you can't beat The Return of a Legend. Now that he's retired from his day job, Jody can get back to the blues, and we'll all be the better for it. I don't have a crystal ball, but I'll be looking for Jody Williams at next year's W.C. Handy Awards. © Eric Steiner , © 2002 - Eric Steiner, www.cosmik.com/aa-july02/reviews/review_jody_williams.html

Jody Williams. Now, that name might ring a bell, but this is not the same Jody Williams, the lady who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997 for her long campaign to ban landmines (but, really, a few years have slipped by and what person do you most associate with banning landmines?). No, this is Jody Williams, the Chicago guitarslinger who literally came from the same school as his friend Bo Diddley. You've heard Williams' playing, too, if ever you've heard Bo Diddley's "Who Do You Love". Back then, Williams came up with the major riffs you've heard in other songs, some even stranger than that, and over the years those tones became associated with someone else. One particular song became a major hit, you'd know it by name or if you heard it, but Williams despite promises and a trip to court did not get dime one, any credit, much less any thanks. There's always a lot of philosophizing about music, and how music and musicians build on influences borrowed one from the other. But if you happen to be a musician who relies on the riffs you come up with to help make your own way in the music world, sometimes it hurts to be part of that historical process. The good news is that Jody Williams is back, playing his own style, and one that has remained intact since 1957. Almost anyone of a certain generation who had more than a passing acquaintance with a blues club will recognize Williams' signature piece, "Lucky Lou". A minor key but snappy instrumental, the tune is a collection of miniature studied cacophonies, and one so genuinely evocative it paints a picture of a room when a blues guitarist improvises and eases into the new complex moods of jazz. Structurally, it's as if all those notes that once sounded like mistakes or slips into an off key, what seemed to be slight musical missteps even after a lifetime of playing, somehow end up working out when all taken and combined as a single piece. In terms of nudging up against and stretching against the invisible membrane that edges some musical boundaries, this piece for its time and now is like a tonal photograph, allowing the listener to imagine how it might have been the first time blues became something else and modernized into jazz. Lyrically, much of the material on Return of a Legend has to do with the kind of treachery that is fostered by desperate circumstances. The sophisticated urbane jazzy sound of "She Found A Fool And Bumped His Head" lends a humorous elegance to the tale of a well-off hooker ("Smooth as ice, and twice as cold") who slips some poor fool a Mickey before emptying his wallet."I never thought life could be cruel like that / People buying love in a cold water flat / A poor working man who's a little weak in the mind / Oh, heads like that are getting bumped all the time". But the real blues are here, too, told in intelligent, sophisticated, urbane lyrics carried by Williams' rich expressive voice. There's the tom-tom driven slink of "I'm Coming Back In Again" the story describing the scene found when a lover returns home too early. While not finding his sweetheart exactly in flagrante delecto, he soon realizes the truth, but allows the culprit as graceful an escape as could be possible under such circumstances. After all, he might suspect how he might feel if caught in such straits, as he offers much more than just a shoulder to cry on in "Come Over to My House". Billy Boy Arnold provides tasteful harp on this tune. Imagine Williams and Arnold and their friend Bo Diddley all starting out playing music together in Chicago in 1951 as very young men, their first gigs busking on the streets for dough. Working in those surroundings, Arnold hit on using a mason jar to amplify his harp, and you can almost hear the precursor of the sounds shaped by the bullet mic. What is a bit harder to imagine is how Williams plays all the music he does and all in an open E tuning, the same tuning he began learning with. Since then, the years have rolled on as they are known to do. It's pretty much true what Chicago bluesman Williams points out, "There aren't many of us left. I'm an endangered species." But one of the joys this reviewer takes is hearing young enthusiastic blues fans wax ecstatic over Jody Williams. People who weren't even born when those 1957 blues records first came out. In giving himself a second turn, Williams is also giving them a chance to hear the blues now as they were played then. So these younger fans who have been mourning they were somehow born too late don't have to feel like they've missed out any longer. While many may have learned about the Chicago blues of the '50s just from records and by developing an ear, the good news is they know enough about the genuine article to recognize and appreciate it when they hear it. © Barbara Flaska, 24 April 2002, www.popmatters.com/


Retired from the Chicago blues business for decades and now back again and sounding as good as ever, Jody Williams's stinging lead guitar work is still stirringly felt every time someone punches up Billy Boy Arnold's "I Was Fooled," Bo Diddley's "Who Do You Love," Otis Spann's "Five Spot," or Williams's eerie minor-key instrumental masterpiece, "Lucky Lou." Born in Alabama, Joseph Leon Williams moved to Chicago at age six. He grew up alongside Bo Diddley, the two trading licks as kids and playing for real by 1951. By the mid-'50s, Williams was ensconced as a Chicago session guitarist of high stature, but he began to grow disenchanted when the signature lick he created for newcomer Billy Stewart's Argo waxing of "Billy's Blues" was appropriated by Mickey Baker for the Mickey & Sylvia smash "Love Is Strange." Baker apparently caught Williams playing the riff in Washington, D.C., at the Howard Theatre. When the legal smoke had cleared, Bo Diddley's wife owned the writing credit for "Love Is Strange" and Jody Williams had zipola for monetary compensation. Williams made his recording debut (singing as well as playing) as a leader for powerhouse deejay Al Benson's Blue Lake imprint in 1955: "Looking for My Baby" was credited to Little Papa Joe. That alias pattern held in 1957, when Argo unleashed "Lucky Lou" and its sumptuous slow blues vocal flip "You May" as by Little Joe Lee (quite a band here -- saxists Harold Ashby and Red Holloway, keyboardist Lafayette Leake, and bassist Willie Dixon). In 1960, Herald Records labeled him Sugar Boy Williams on "Little Girl." 1960s outings for Nike, Jive, Smash, and Yulando rounded out Williams's slim discography. Jody Williams dropped out of the blues game and went to work at Xerox as a technical engineer. He retired in 1994 and began to think about getting back into music. In 1999 at the urging of producer Dick Shurman, he went to a blues club for the first time in many, many years to see his old friend Robert Lockwood, Jr.. Soon after Williams broke out some old tapes he made in 1964, liked what he heard so much that it brought tears to his eyes and decided to recapture the sound he created back when he was a top session man. After playing some gigs in 2000 and 2001, Williams and Dick Shurman went into the studio to cut his first solo album. Return of a Legend was issued in 2002, garnering rave reviews and sparking newfound interest in one of the unsung heroes of the blues guitar. © Bill Dahl, All Music Guide


Blues master and former Bo Diddley collaborator Jody Williams returned to the stage in 2000 after a 30-year absence, dazzling audiences once again with the deft guitar work that earned him renown in the 1950s and 1960s. Williams first made a name for himself as a session guitarist for such blues luminaries as Howlin' Wolf, B.B. King, Bo Diddley, Jimmy Rogers, and many others. The guitarist's signature riffs set apart such songs as Diddley's "Who Do You Love," Otis Spann's "Five Spot," and Billy Boy Arnold's "I Was Fooled." Though highly influential in the 1950s and 1960s blues scene, Williams was often relegated to the status of a sideman. In the late 1960s he quit the music business in frustration when other musicians appropriated his work. Williams was in his 60s when he made his spectacular re-emergence, winning the W.C. Handy Blues Award for Comeback Album of the Year for his 2002 album, Return of a Legend. Joseph Leon Williams was born on February 3, 1935, in Mobile, Alabama and moved to Chicago at the age of six. As a teenager he met Bo Diddley playing acoustic guitar on the streets of the city that made blues famous. Williams then played the harmonica, but he switched instruments when his mother purchased a $32.50 Silverstone guitar for her son at a pawn shop. "It had one electric pickup on it," Williams told Dave Hoekstra of the Chicago Sun-Times. "Bo Diddley didn't have an electric guitar, but I did." Soon Williams was performing with Diddley and other up-and-coming bluesmen. By the time he turned 20, Williams had become one of the blues world's most sought-after session guitarists, known for his nimble fingers and evocative, Latin-inflected rhythms. In 1955 Williams made his recording debut as a guitarist and vocalist under the nickname "Little Papa Joe." His single "Looking for My Baby" appeared on Al Benson's Blue Lake imprint. Two years later, under the new stage name "Little Joe Lee," Williams received writing credits for the Argo imprint releases "Lucky Lou" and "You May." Under yet another alias, "Sugar Boy Williams," the guitarist released "Little Girl" for Herald Records in 1960. Over the next few years Williams penned tunes for such labels as Nike, Jive, Smash, and Yulando. Williams had begun to grow wary of the music business when other artists pilfered his guitar work without crediting him. Originally created for blues artist Billy Stewart, a lead guitar riff by Williams appeared in the 1957 hit song "Love Is Strange," by Mickey Baker of the one-hit-wonder group Mickey & Sylvia. It appeared that Baker had picked up the riff when he heard Williams play at the Howard Theatre in Washington, D.C. Williams took legal action but was unable to obtain credit or monetary compensation for his contribution to the song. To make matters more complicated, the writing credit for "Love Is Strange" was given to Bo Diddley's wife. Together with Williams, Diddley had a hand in creating the song, but he had switched the credit to protect his royalties. So it was Diddley, and not Williams, who ultimately profited from Mickey & Sylvia's hit, which climbed to number 11 on the charts in 1957. "I was ripped off," Williams later told John Sinkevics in the Grand Rapids Press. Fed up with the music business, the guitarist ultimately turned his back on it. In an abrupt change of course, Williams stashed his cherished "Red Lightnin'" Gibson guitar under his bed and enrolled in school to study electronics in the late 1960s. Joining the workforce, he became an appliance repair technician specializing in radios and televisions. Continuing his education in computer science, Williams built on his skills as an electronics whiz; he later found work as a technical engineer for copy machine giant Xerox. This job was to be his livelihood for more than 25 years. Williams's departure from music was complete; he not only refused to play in public, he refused to play at all, even staying away from the nightclubs where he used to watch his friends and colleagues play. He was afraid, he later acknowledged, that some of those friends would prevail on him to pick up his guitar one last time. It wasn't until Williams retired in 1994 that he considered reviving his music career. "One day my wife [Delores Williams] said if I started playing again I might feel better about life in general," he told Hoekstra of the Chicago Sun-Times. Yet it was not until 1999, at the encouragement of producer Dick Shurman, that he stepped into a blues club for the first time in decades. That evening he went to hear his old friend Robert Lockwood Jr. play, and the experience left Williams nostalgic for his music days. It wasn't long before he dusted off an old tape of himself playing in 1964. The recording moved Williams to tears and inspired him to pick up his guitar once more. Once he started to play and compose music again, Williams found it impossible to stop. Only two months after picking up his guitar, the bluesman returned to playing regular gigs in 2000 and 2001. Eventually he also returned to the studio, with Shurman as producer, laying down the tracks that began his 2002 release from Evidence Music, Return of a Legend. Williams's first solo effort reiterated hit songs from the artist's glory days, but also hinted at a new incarnation for the bluesman. Critics showered praise on the album, which showcased the guitar pyrotechnics that had put Williams in a class by himself decades earlier. Making up for lost time, Williams followed up with a sophomore solo album, You Left Me in the Dark, released on the Evidence label in 2004. The recording afforded Williams the opportunity to reunite with former collaborators Robert Lockwood Jr. and Lonnie Brooks. It also gave Williams a chance to present new songs composed in a period of prolific creativity. Meanwhile, Williams had picked up part-time work as a automated teller machine technician for its health care benefits and to make some extra cash. But as his second incarnation as a blues player picked up steam, it seemed likely that he would once again be able to devote full time to music. Fans both old and young have responded with enthusiasm to Williams's comeback to the blues scene---whether they had eagerly followed his early career or were discovering him for the first time. The praise, applause, and star treatment that followed all came as a surprise to the musician, who was finally receiving the recognition that had eluded him in his early career. Williams himself has expressed amazement at his renewed popularity. "For someone who never, ever intended to play guitar again, I've come an awful long ways," he told Sinkevics in the Grand Rapids Press. © Wendy Kagan, © 2008 Net Industries - All Rights Reserved, www.musicianguide.com/biographies/1608004332/Jody-Williams.html