Little Willie John: Do You Love Me (King)
Little Willie John: Leave My Kitten Alone (King)
Little Willie John: Let's Rock while the Rockin's Good (King)
Hello again, all. Looks like it's been a while since anything was posted on the ol' blog, so I thought I'd break the silence with a little tribute to someone considered an influential R&B legend who recorded for King in the 50s and early 60s and scored 14 times on the R&B charts. His best known hit is "Fever," which was covered more famously by Peggy Lee who went Top Ten with it. He was convicted of manslaughter in 1966 and would die under mysterious circumstances in prison in 1968. James Brown recorded a tribute to his music a few years later. He was inducted into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame in 1996. The person I speak of is Little Willie John.
I tried to sum up John's history in a bit of a nutshell as it is fairly well-covered on the Web and elsewhere. The records we serve up today are three of his more uptempo records, with one of them being a full-on bonafide shaker. Don't get me wrong, all of them are great, but "Do You Love Me," from 1960, is a fave with John shakin' and shriekin' all over a super-fast groove that barely pauses for breath until it finally comes to an abrupt stop at the end. Believe me when I tell you it's a cooker of a record.
The other two, "Let's Rock While The Rockin's Good" (1958) and "Leave My Kitten Alone" (1961 for my copy...I believe it was released earlier in 1959 as well) are also quite fine in their own right, both showing John equally at home with more typical R&B surroundings. On both of these records, John is backed by a girlie chorus and his vocals blend in well with them. What else can I say? Try 'em all.
If you want to check out more about Little Willie John (and you should), you can Google his name and you'll find several items about him, including a Wikipedia entry. But what really matters is his music and I'm told John cut a lot of great records. Here are three of them.