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Composed by Floyd Hamberlin
April 30, 2016: Re-posted from Daddy B. Nice's Mailbag: Scroll down this page to Tidbits #2
2. Bizarre Correspondence (2015) Between Will T.'s Lady Janice and Daddy B. Nice
November 14, 2015:
The original version of "Mississippi Boy" has been taken down from YouTube. In response to a query, Dylann DeAnna from CDS Records denies removing the iconic single. In all probability, Charles Wilson himself--the artist who first included the song as a bonus track on his IF IT AIN'T BROKE DON'T FIX IT and subsequently (after its popularity) brought out his own version--has removed it from YouTube.
The only way to hear the original (composed and produced by Floyd Hamberlin) is by going to All Music Guide and listening to the sample (the last track) on the album. Some copies are available for sale on Amazon.
--Daddy B. Nice
Listen to Will T. singing "Mississippi Boy" at All Music Guide.
January 1, 2014:
CHART CLIMBERS 2014: Will T. and his hit Southern Soul song "Mississippi Boy" climbs from #50 to #30 on Daddy B. Nice's Top 100 21st Century Southern Soul Artist Countdown.
Go to the complete library for Daddy B. Nice's Top 100 Countdown: 21st Century Southern Soul Artists
February 10, 2013: EXCLUSIVE!
Read Daddy B. Nice's first-ever interview with Will T. by scrolling down this page to Tidbits #1.
"Mississippi Boy" is arguably one of the top ten Southern Soul songs of the 21st Century, and the only reason your Daddy B. Nice does not rank it amongst the top ten on this chart is the obscurity of it beginnings, the confusion surrounding its history, the phantom nature of its artist/singer, Will T., not to mention the singular fact it was the only Southern Soul song Will T. ever recorded.
Among the many things that make the song unique is its scruffy, demo-quality sound. You would have to look far and wide to find another song with such modest goals and elementary musicianship: basically a bass, drums, guitar and singer with a couple of back-up singers who don't even attempt harmonies--just join in.
And yet, from its very beginnings being played on a few remote radio outposts in Mississippi in the early years of the new century, it is "Mississippi Boy's" rustic simplicity that has given it such an aura of untouchable originality and casual magic.
Listen to Will T. singing "Mississippi Boy" on YouTube while you read.
Southern Soul singer Charles Wilson, not to be confused with urban soul singer Charlie ("My name is Charlie") Wilson, is most responsible for the bewildering history surrounding the song.
Charles Wilson was responsible for bringing the song to the public, and he has increasingly associated himself with the song over the years, but he neither wrote the original version of "Mississippi Boy" nor recorded it. That distinction belongs to writer/producer Floyd Hamberlin, Jr.
Thus, when fans currently visit YouTube to listen to "Mississippi Boy," they will find a maze of choices.
The most prominent YouTube offering for "Mississippi Boy" erroneously refers to a cover of the song Charles Wilson did on his Sexual Healing CD, but the upload actually originated in a prior Wilson album, If It Ain't Broke Don't Fix It (and even one before that, but more about that later).
Here's a rundown of the current YouTube offerings on "Mississippi Boy" and who is actually doing the singing:
Titled "Charles Wilson - Mississippi Boy [Will T]," and misleadingly accompanied by the deep red dust jacket of the CD containing the Charles Wilson version. (This is Will T. singing.)
Labeled simply "Mississippi Boy--Charles Wilson," with pictures of Mississippi and other details of the song. (This is Charles Wilson singing.)
Titled "Bike Night In the Alley," this is an unknown regional artist playing the song live. It begins modestly but becomes increasingly interesting and true to the original.
Labeled "Big K-9 and his Mississippi Boys," with lots of pics of Big K-9 hobnobbing with young Southern Soul stars. (This is Will T. singing.)
And, while we're at it. . .
Denise LaSalle's version, titled "Mississippi Woman." (This is Denise LaSalle singing one of two versions of the song she recorded for Ecko Records.)
As the variety suggests, "Mississippi Boy" has caught the imaginations of Southern Soul enthusiasts as few songs do. Nevertheless, at the time of this writing (3-18-12), there is only one version of the original recording of "Mississippi Boy" available, a new copy on Amazon listed at the unbelievable price of $8.98, a steal for what will assuredly be a collector's item in the years to come.
Buy the original recording of "Mississippi Boy" on the Wilson Records' compilation album SOUL BLUES VOL. 2 at Amazon.com.
Two years later (2005), "Mississippi Boy" re-emerged as a "bonus track" (along with Earl Duke's "Salt In My Sugar Bowl") on the Charles Wilson-sponsored compilation album, If It Ain't Broke Don't Fix It.
This was the same recording, sung by Will T., which had appeared on the earlier compilation, and it too is destined for collectors' caches. At this writing, Amazon was offering 6 "new" copies from $16.69 and 5 "used" copies from $14.99.
In lieu of a biography, what follows is an updated piece that ran on Daddy B. Nice's Corner in May 2007 under the title THE ULTIMATE STORY BEHIND "MISSISSIPPI BOY," THE SOUTHERN SOUL SONG NOBODY BUT THE FANS KNEW WAS A CLASSIC.
The column explains the mystery of Will T. and why he was never given the credit and exposure that "Mississippi Boy" would have otherwise brought him.
--Daddy B. Nice
About Will T.
Your Daddy B. Nice first heard a song called "Mississippi Boy" way back in 2003, and it knocked me out with its bluegrass ambience and infectious rhythm--its pure Southern Soul originality.
"I'm tired of the city life.
Everything's much too fast.
I'm used to old dirty roads,
And the smell of country grass."
It was as if Fats Domino had time-traveled to the 21st century and deposited a gem. Every time I heard "Mississippi Boy," I imagined two or three guys sitting on hay bales in an old converted barn with wooden barrels in the background and straw on the floor, singing through stalks of grass stuck in the corners of their mouths and occasionally spitting into the dust.
"The city's so high-tech.
I don't want to rattle my brain.
Lord knows I'm a country boy.
I want to go back to where I came."
I didn't catch the name of the artist--it sounded like "Will T."--but to this day your Daddy B. Nice remembers the exact words WMPR deejay Queen Bee used to close out the song.
"Ahhh, just a Mississippi boy," she sighed. "Got that Mississippi mud on my boots."
Since then, readers of Daddy B. Nice's Artist Guide on Charles Wilson have been familiar with the long-running saga of "Mississippi Boy," the Floyd Hamberlin-written song that was recorded under obscure circumstances by an even more mysterious artist who hasn't been heard from since. That would be Will T.
Will T.'s "Mississippi Boy" was first published in an obscure compilation album from Wilson Records (Charles Wilson's own label) in 2003. It was subsequently released as a bonus track (along with Earl Duke's "Salt In My Sugar Bowl," another Hamberlin tune) as a bonus track on Charles Wilson's If It Ain't Broke Don't Fix It CD (2005), even though Wilson himself didn't play or sing on it.
Wilson later recorded his own version of "Mississippi Boy"--very faithful--and released it on his Sexual Healing album (2006). Wilson's version of "Mississippi Boy" was also a bonus track on his CD, The After Party .
In any case, Ecko Records eventually released the tune in a gender-switching, high-octane version: Denise LaSalle's spectacular 2007 Southern Soul hit, "Mississippi Woman."
Maybe it was because Daddy B. Nice and a few deejays made such a commotion about "Mississippi Boy" that Wilson's appreciation of the song's hit quotient grew over time. The fact remains, however, that Wilson (who has been marketed as Southern Soul's "Mississippi Boy" in recent concert advertising) was peculiarly unaware of the track's potential at the outset.
"Charles had the opportunity to record 'Mississippi Boy,' and should've done the song himself first," CDS Records' CEO Dylann DeAnna admitted to your Daddy B. Nice last year. "Charles missed his chance. Now Denise (LaSalle) has the big hit with it."
But the same dismissiveness--"Mississippi Boy" was a kind of happy accident--can be said for the man who recorded the song, Floyd Hamberlin.
Now Floyd Hamberlin, Jr. weighs in on the song's murky beginnings. "First of all," Hamberlin told your Daddy B. Nice recently. "Charles"--meaning Charles Wilson--"had nothing to do with the 'Mississippi Boy' song."
Hamberlin maintains that Wilson co-opted his work, reneging on a joint effort by Wilson and Hamberlin to be entitled Southern Soul Chicago--a great title, by the way.
"What happened there was," Hamberlin said, "I was going to put out a compilation album called Southern Soul Chicago. Charles and I was going to do a split label on the project.
"I wrote the songs. I recorded them. I did the artwork for the CD. And I sent the the finished product to Charles, artwork and all. Then, behind my back, Charles changed the artwork to Charles Wilson's Soul and Blues. And he went on to press. I couldn't do anything about it."
So what about Will T.? What about "Mississippi Boy"?
"I'm just a Mississippi boy,
I've got Mississippi mud on my boots.
I'm just a Mississippi boy
I want to go back to my roots."
"It was an 'experiment' song," Hamberlin said. "I didn't have anyone to sing this song one Saturday afternoon. I told my partner to go out and find me somebody to sing this song."
(Daddy B. Nice notes: This was in Hamberlin's hometown of Chicago. I forgot to ask Hamberlin who that "partner" was. However, the liner notes from the IF IT AIN'T BROKE DON'T FIX IT CD list: Arrangers: Jimmy Barnnett; Floyd Hamberlin, Jr. Personnel: David Thompson (guitar); Jimmy Barnnett (programming); Sharon Scott (background vocals).Audio Mixer: Floyd Hamberlin, Jr.)
"My partner brought this guy in," Hamberlin continued. "And he said his name was Will T. We called him guilty," as in Guil-T."
(Daddy B. Nice notes: CDS's DeAnna says the "Will T" came from Charles Wilson and was based on his last name--probably Wilson's version of the incident.)
"We laughed through the whole recording session because we thought the song was funny," Hamberlin said. "And that's how 'Mississippi Boy' came about."
Footnote: Years later, Hamberlin told your Daddy B. Nice that Will T. was a Chicago preacher, and that his faith prohibited him from putting his real name on a secular song.
Song's Transcendent Moment
"Tired of the fast food.
Raised on cornbread and collard greens,
Chitlin's and hog hocks,
A big old pot of beans.
Playing blues on the front porch.
Talk loud, drink and cuss.
Got those down home blues,
Or I'm gonna get back on the bus."
"Every Friday night,
We have a real good time.
Party all night long,
Full of that moonshine.
Me and my baby
Park the old pickup truck
On the side of the road,
Doing the you know what."
February 10, 2013: THE DADDY B NICE INTERVIEW
MYSTERY SINGER OF "MISSISSIPPI BOY" WILL T. SURFACES & TELLS HIS STORY
Listen to Will T. singing "Mississippi Boy" on YouTube while you read.
To read background on the artist and song, go to Daddy B. Nice's Artist Guide to Will T.
DBN: Will T, I was just looking at one of the many stories I've written about "Mississippi Boy" over the years. The song was shrouded in mystery and confusion from the beginning, and the story I'm looking at was from an interview with Floyd Hamberlin, Jr. (the writer of the song) and the headline reads: THE ULTIMATE STORY BEHIND "MISSISSIPPI BOY," THE SOUTHERN SOUL SONG NOBODY BUT THE FANS KNEW WAS A CLASSIC.
WILL T: (Laughs)
DBN: That was written in 2007, almost six years ago. And the song was first released almost a decade ago, around 2003. But maybe that story wasn't the "ultimate" after all. Maybe we get that today.
WILL T: You do, Daddy B. Nice. I was the singer of "Mississippi Boy" and I want to tell my story.
DBN: Okay, so let's start at the beginning. Who are you?
WILL T: My name is Will McGuinnis. I live here in Chicago. I was recently laid off my job, and it's been a little rough, but I'm getting by. I worked for the Chicago schools as a security officer for seventeen years.
DBN: I was told that Charles Wilson thought up the name "Will T" because the singer wanted to be anonymous, and that the "Will" in "Will T" was just based on his name "Wilson."
WILL T: That's not true. You see, I deejay on the side in Chicago, and my DJ handle is "Will The Thrill." So when it came to putting my name down as the singer, they just used "Will T."
DBN: So the "Will T" was just an abbreviation for "Will the Thrill."
WILL T: That's right.
DBN: That brings up the "preacher" thing.
WILL T: I was never a preacher. I don't know how that got started, or why Floyd said that.
DBN: Well, I think maybe he was trying to protect you. The story was that you were a preacher and you didn't want to be associated with secular music, and that's why you remained anonymous.
WILL T: No, I've always done secular music. He could have given you my name. I was never against being associated with the song and getting some credit for it. You know, I'm still performing. I just sang in front of an audience Thursday night. I've been singing with this local band, Top Flight Band, for many years.
DBN: So why now, Will? Why did you wait so long to go public?
WILL T: Well, a friend of mine, Chuck Jackson, he found the write-up about me on your website.
DBN: When was this?
WILL T: This was just a couple of weeks ago.
DBN: You're kidding. Never before?
WILL T: No. And he said the song was getting all this publicity and that a number of things people had told you about me were inaccurate.
DBN: Over the years, did you have any idea of the progress of the song? The covers? The fans? The controversies between Floyd Hamberlin and Charles Wilson? Floyd said he was going to call the project "Southern Soul Chicago," which I've always thought was a great title.
WILL T: Not to that extent, no. I knew Denise (LaSalle) did the cover.
DBN: And Charles (Wilson), of course.
WILL T: Yeah.
DBN: Did you know there was a cover just this last year?
WILL T: No.
DBN: Do you know who Sir Charles Jones is?
WILL T: Yeah. I've got an album of his.
DBN: He did a cover. He changed the title from "Mississippi Boy" to "Country Boy."
WILL T: Is that right? Well anyway, this friend of mine went down to Jackson and he told me the song was really hitting in the South.
DBN: How long after the song was recorded was this?
WILL T: This was about three years after the session.
DBN: Three years!
WILL T: I didn't hear from Floyd or Michael for about three years.
DBN: You're kidding.
WILL T: That's just the way it was, you know. Anyway, my friend heard "Mississippi Boy" being played around Jackson and burned a couple of copies and brought them back up to me in Chicago. I didn't even have a copy of the song before that.
DBN: Let's talk about the making of the song, Will. How did it all come about for you?
WILL T: I was singing in this club here in Chicago. I was singing a birthday song for a lady in the audience, and Michael Mayberry--he was Floyd's partner--came up to me and asked me if I wanted to record a vocal for this song about Mississippi. I said okay, so Michael said, "Meet me here at the club at one a.m. and we'll go to the studio."
DBN: Where was the studio? Because I have to tell you, "Mississippi Boy" always conjured guys playing on hay bales in a barn.
WILL T: It was out on 70th and South Shore. It was in the basement of a house. When I got to the house, Floyd gave me an hour to learn the song. It only took me a half-hour. It was short and sweet. Floyd had written a lot of songs. He wrote "Sugar Daddy" for Tyrone Davis, he wrote songs for Stan Mosley, Lee Morris.
DBN: Oh yeah.
WILL T: It was a really simple song, and so it only took me a half-hour. They already had a background vocal, but Floyd said it was too professional. They wanted that vocal to remain in the background.
DBN: And I take it that artist wasn't Charles Wilson.
WIll T: Right. It wasn't Charles.
DBN: There's always another "mystery" with this song. I thought the background might be Floyd himself.
WILL T: No, Floyd can't sing. (Laughs.) Oh, I could get in trouble for that.
DBN: Don't worry, he's a songwriter. They don't care about that stuff.
WILL T: So Floyd asked me, "Are you from Mississippi?" I was born in Mississippi but I was raised in Chicago.
DBN: Where in Mississippi?
WILL T: Marigold.
DBN: Sounds small.
WILL T: That's around Cleveland. (East-central Mississippi.) Yeah, I left there when I was a kid. My best friend and my mentor here in Chicago, Jo Jo Murray (who's signing with a Southern Soul label, by the way) was also born in Mississippi. Do you know him?
DBN: No, I don't.
WILL T: He's real good. He grew up in Shelby, Mississippi. I've been knowing him ever since I was a kid.
DBN: Floyd Hamberlin told me "Mississippi Boy" was an "experiment." Any comment?
WILL T: (Laughs). I'll tell you, Daddy B Nice, in the studio Floyd said, "We don't want you to imitate the other vocal. We want you to do your own thing." And when I got behind the glass, recording the song, I couldn't help but see Michael and Floyd laughing on the other side. I thought they were laughing at me, and when I got out I said, "What's wrong? Am I that bad?" And Floyd said, "You're fine. It's just an experiment. A joke."
DBN: Fans would cry if they knew how many terrific demos--what Floyd meant by "experiments"--never see the light of day. Maybe "Mississippi Boy's" secret is that it's got a demo quality. Nobody's reaching. Everything is loose and relaxed yet tentative, like a first take.
WILL T: Yeah, when they got around to what name they were going to put on the song, they said "Will The Thrill". . . . and "Will T". . . . and Floyd said, "How about Guil-T?" and they started laughing some more.
DBN: (Laughs) I remember Floyd telling me that story. I think what tickled him and Michael so much about "Mississippi Boy" was the same weird novelty that made fans love it. What about the chorus? The "Heidi-Ho!" I loved that. Like he couldn't come up with any words.
WILL T: Floyd told me to end with five "Heidi-Ho's," and then into the "Mississippi Boy" twice. Do you want to hear me sing a couple of verses?
(WILL T sings two verses of "Mississippi Boy" in a voice with more delicacy and definition than the original, which sounds as if Will might have been a smoker--or heavier smoker--at the time. The phrasing is identical. He finishes.)
DBN: Beautiful. That reminds me of a dear friend of mine who died last year, Sweet Joe Russell of The Persuasions.
WILL T: Now you have proof I am who I say I am.
DBN: You know you didn't have to sing it on that account, Will.
WILL T: I don't have any hard feelings, Daddy B. Nice, but I was denied a chance. A lifelong dream really was shattered.
DBN: Did you know that to this day your version of "Mississippi Boy" still goes under the name Charles Wilson on internet sites like YouTube? I'm not saying it's Charles' doing.
WILL T: This summer I will be coming to Mississippi. Charles will be there. I don't have anything to prove. I just want people to see me and acknowledge my connection to "Mississippi Boy." You know, I wanted a chance to sign with a label and put my talent on display. It's not about the women, the money, the fame. I'm not angry. I'm not mad at the guy. I'll be sixty years old in October.
DBN: Could you go out and perform the song? I mean, either with a band or just fronting the track?
WILL T: Oh, yeah, I'm singing it here in Chicago. Awhile back, I was in this club and they played "Mississippi Boy" three times in a row, and they said, "That's by Charles Wilson." And I went up there and told the leader of the band, "That's actually me singing "Mississippi Boy." And he didn't believe me. Then I started singing it and they knew it was me. He said this song is still hot. They had a Sunday radio show called the Blues Cafe with DJ Jim Rags, and he played "Mississippi Boy" three times back to back. People were calling in and saying they loved the song and to play it again. It was incredible. Anyway, the next time people just went crazy when I walked in that club, and the deejay said "Here's Will T. That's 'Will The Thrill' Will T, and I sang "Mississippi Boy" with the band and the place erupted.
DBN: Do you want me to publish any contact numbers for you?
WILL T: Sure. You can put in my home number (773- 624-2934) and my mobile (773-640-8766).
DBN: Will, it's been fantastic talking with you, and I sincerely hope you get just a little of the love owed you for singing one of the dozen top-covered songs in contemporary Southern Soul. If you look on the Internet, you'll find videos of dozens of bands playing the onetime mysterious "Mississippi Boy."
WILL T: It's not a mystery any more. It's "Will the Thrill," otherwise known as Will T. I'm the original guy, and I really thank you for the opportunity. It's a beautiful interview, and I really enjoyed it.
--Daddy B. Nice
April 30, 2016: Re-posted from Daddy B. Nice's Mailbag
2. Bizarre Correspondence (2015) Between Will T.'s Lady Janice and Daddy B. Nice
RE: WILL T.'S "MISSISSIPPI BOY"
I just went on your web site and seen something that needs to be cleared up you have Charles Wilson as the one who put out the song and it was not him it was Will T. as the original performer who recorded Mississippi Boy as a matter of fact he is doing a concert in West Memphis,Arkansas along with JoJo Murray, Big John Commons and Andrea Lee. I'm assuming that was an over site since it was not on your website with the list of all the other concerts.
I hope you can make it to Arkansas and you will see for yourself who the original singer of Mississippi Boy and it was not Charles Wilson.
If you have any further questions please feel free to contact me or Will T.
Daddy B. Nice replies:
And I hope you can make it to my website again and actually read the history of Will T. and his essential southern soul classic, "Mississippi Boy." I applaud your championing of this essential of southern soul, but in your condemnation of your Daddy B. Nice you make yourself out to be ignorant and over-zealous, biting the very hand of the friend--not enemy--who has made it possible for you to be the passionate convert you evidently are.
Why, only a couple of months ago in a review of O.B. Buchana's latest album, I wrote:
And maybe your Daddy B. Nice is just in a bad mood from "Mississippi Boy" Charles Wilson taking down "Mississippi Boy" Will T.'s/Floyd Hamberlin's original classic (first published on Wilson's IF IT AIN'T BROKE DON'T FIX IT CD as a "bonus track") from YouTube recently, but O.B.'s "Mississippi Folks"--based on the same "Mississippi Boy"--can also run but not hide from criticism.
O.B.'s is the hardest-edged version yet of the oft-recorded anthem, which let me remind everyone was the lightest, loveliest, loosest, humblest tune imaginable. O.B. ratchets up the percussive emphasis on the chords, out-banging even Denise LaSalle's version, consigning the scruffy charm and soulfulness of the original to a distant memory.
And if you scroll down the right-hand column of this very page to the article entitled "2013: The Year In Southern Soul," you'll find this nugget of information:
A vocalist some industry people doubted existed emerged from anonymity in an interview with Daddy B. Nice: Will T., the mysterious singer of the original "Mississippi Boy," (often attributed to Charles Wilson), one of the most iconic and oft-covered songs in contemporary Southern Soul. It was written by the same Floyd Hamberlin of this year's "Mr. Sexy Man" fame and most recently covered by Sir Charles Jones under the title "Country Boy."
You act as if you're close to Will T., Janice, but if so why wouldn't you know that I had been writing about the song and pushing the song ever since it first came out as a bonus track on Wilson's If It Ain't Broke Don't Fix It album in 2005? That's ten long years I've championed the song, Janice, ten long years during which no one ever got me to shut up about it, ten long years I kept it "alive" and fresh in minds of the fans. And I haven't even mentioned Daddy B. Nice's Artist Guide to Will T., in which you can read the full account of the song's creation and the full Will T./Daddy B. Nice interview.
My, my, my.... Girl. You did get under my skin worse than the mosquito bites I was inflicted with in Savannah, Georgia over the holidays. And by the way, it's John Cummings (not John Commons) and Andre' Lee (not Andrea Lee) who will be joining Will T. and Jo Jo Murray on the show, which was also listed (you were wrong about that, too) on the "Concert Calendar" (right-hand column of this page) prior to receiving your condescending letter.
I'd suggest directing some of that self-righteous anger towards Charles Wilson, who took down the last remaining YouTube video of the Will T. version of "Mississippi Boy" last year with nary a peep from anybody but (again) your Daddy B. Mean--in effect making it a "lost record" again.
You were wrong about everything, Janice, except that Will T.'s "Mississippi Boy" is the BEST!!!
Daddy B. Nice
Thank you for responding to my letter. I would like to apologize if I was out of line. Will & I have been together for 4 years and I just want him to get the credit he deserves and yes I have read your articles and the interview you did with Will. I don't mean to appear over zealous and I'm certainly not ignorant I guess we both started off on the wrong foot so I am extending the olive branch and looking forward to meeting you maybe even at the concert in West Memphis.
Will says hi and thanks again for the interview.
Daddy B. Nice replies:
You're welcome, Janice, and give my best regards to Will. Four years with Will...I guess you are "close." Which makes me even more confused. However, I like olive branches, and I accept and extend my own. Best wishes to you both.
Daddy B. Nice
See the upcoming concert in West Memphis, a rare mix of Delta and Chicago artists, in Daddy B. Nice's Calendar (Saturday, February 6, 2016.
If You Liked. . . You'll Love
If you liked The Temptations' "Ain't Too Proud To Beg," you'll love Will T.'s "Mississippi Boy."
CD: Soul Blues Vol. 2 (Wilson Records)
Label: Wilson Records
CD: If It Ain't Broke Don't Fix It (Will T.)
Mississippi Boy (YouTube)
CD: Mississippi Boy (YouTube)