Walter “Wolfman” Washington has been an icon on the New Orleans music scene for decades. His searing guitar work and soulful vocals have defined the Crescent City’s unique musical hybrid of R&B, funk and the blues since he formed his first band in the 1970s.
Washington began his career during the fertile heyday of the 1950s Rhythm and Blues period that spawned dozens of Number 1 songs and made New Orleans the recording destination of choice for hit makers like Ray Charles and Little Richard. Born in 1943, Washington was on the road by his late teens spending over two years backing the great vocalist Lee Dorsey who was touring in support of his smash hits, “Ride Your Pony” and “Working in a Coalmine.”
His tenure with Dorsey took him to all of the great music halls in America including appearances at the famed Apollo Theater in Harlem. Before he went out on his own with his Solar System band, he also did stints with acclaimed New Orleans songstress Irma Thomas as well as with the legendary jazzman David Lastie’s Taste of New Orleans band.
During the 1970s, Washington began a 20-year association with one of the most important vocalists to hail from Louisiana- the late, great Johnny Adams. Dubbed “the Tan Canary” for his peerless vocal stylings, Adams was a mentor of sorts to Washington who developed his singing style while the two worked together at back-of-town clubs including a long stint at the famed Dorothy’s Medallion in the Mid City section of New Orleans.