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Willie Pooch

Born William Johnson in Tupelo, Mississippi in 1936, Willie Pooch made his first instrument as a small boy by nailing four strands of baling wire on the side of his house. His singing career started in church a few years later. At the age of eight, Willie was performing with a variety of Gospel groups, including the 'Spirit of Memphis Quartet' and the 'Gospel Travelers'. Blessed with a strong voice and a healthy, playful childhood, Willie's musical upbringing began to have some unique "ties" as a young boy--as one of his 'playmates' just happened to be none other than Elvis Presley, yes, 'thee' Elvis! "I remember playin' baseball with Elvis," Willy notes, "there was always something different about that boyŠalways somethin' differentŠ" Elvis Presley became Elvis. Willie went to Chicago. When he was thirteen Willie and his family moved to Chicago's Southside where Willie's "gospel roots budded blues flowers." Studying with Luther Allison, Willie began his dream of becoming the next great Blues singer. Willie worked in the stockyards during the day and played blues at night, meeting and playing with many blues legends. Willie recalls one of his first significant jobs, "I remember bein' twenty-one (21) and switching from lead guitar to bass so I could perform with blues greats like Hound Dog Taylor, Elmore James, Luther Allison, Magic Sam & Muddy Waters, yeah, yeah, Muddy." During the '50s Willie lived the Blues - day-in, day out - in Chicago, or on a tour in the Midwest. Willie 'felt' what real blues were, he felt where they came from, and he understood why and how they were sang. "There's lots of blues to be learned out on the road," Willie notes. "Three months at a time, five guys in a beat-up station wagon, Chevrolet station wagon I believe it was... I tell you that'll teach a guy a lot about the blues." In 1962 Willie was traveling with Kansas City Red when Sam's Bar & Grill in Columbus Ohio "recruited" him to be their house band and where he very affectionately became known as the "Godfather of Blues." "Godfather of Blues" at night, and during the day: it was the Buckeye Steel Mill ("Buckeye Still Mill Blues" pays tribute), a job he held for 30 years and 30 days until his retirement in 1999. A passionate worker, a passionate musician, and a passionate blues man that, through the 'direction' of Louis Tsamous (drummer and musical director for this project) hooked up with the incredibly 'gifted'-great, Tony Monaco (also from Columbus and influenced greatly by the Columbus 'chitlin' scene of great jazz organists such as Hank Marr and Don Patterson).

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Recordings: As Leader | As Sideperson

Funk 'N' Blues

Chicken Coup Records



Chicken Coup Records


In My Lonely Room

From: Funk-N-Blues
By Willie Pooch



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