Daddy B. Nice's #60 ranked Southern Soul Artist
"Obama (Tell Me Why You Like Obama)"
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.
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.
Listen to Chick Willis singing "Why We Need Obama" on YouTube.
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.
Did you ever see a one-eyed woman cry?
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.
Song's Transcendent Moment
"He'll see that your kids get an education
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.
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
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