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Overview (5)

Date of Birth 1 July 1915Vicksburg, Mississippi, USA
Date of Death 29 January 1992Burbank, California, USA  (heart failure)
Birth NameWillie James Dixon
Nickname Chokeson
Height 6' 2" (1.88 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Blues legend Willie Dixon was born in Vicksburg, Mississippi, in 1915. His mother was a devoutly religious person who spent much of her time writing religious poems, which gave the young Willie exposure to rhyming and meter. At a young age he sang with a gospel group called the Union Jubilee Singers, who had a show on radio station WQBC in Vicksburg. He briefly gave up singing for a career as a boxer, but soon returned to his first love, music.

He left Mississippi in 1936 for Chicago, which had a vibrant music scene, but he also kept his hand in boxing; in 1937 he became the Illinois Golden Gloves Boxing Champion. He turned pro (and even sparred with heavyweight champion Joe Louis), but after just four professional fights he got into a brawl with his manager in the Illinois Boxing Commissioner's office over money he believed he was being cheated out of, and his boxing career--for all practical purposes--was over. Going back to his musical roots, he took up bass playing, and in 1939 he and guitarist Leonard Caston started a group called The Five Breezes. The group played in Chicago-area clubs and even made a few records, but in 1941 it broke up when Dixon, who had declared himself a conscientious objector, was arrested for refusing to serve in the military. He was tried, convicted and sentenced to prison.

After finishing his sentence he formed another group, The Four Jumps of Jive, which made the rounds of Chicago's clubs, and even cut a few singles for Mercury Records. He later formed yet another group, with his old friend Caston and Bernardo Dennis, called The Big Three. At the same time Dixon was playing in the city's South Side blues clubs with such greats as Muddy Waters. He was playing one night in 1948 at the Macomba Lounge when he met brothers Phil Chess and Leonard Chess, the club's owners who had just started up Chess Records. They offered Dixon a job at the label as a songwriter and producer, and he soon went to work for them full-time. Soon Chess artists such as Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf (aka "Howlin' Wolf") and Little Walter were recording songs written by Dixon, which met with great success. Dixon also recorded some singles on his own, but he wasn't as successful a recording artist as he was a songwriter.

In 1957 Dixon left Chess for Cobra Records, and worked with such legendary guitarists as Buddy Guy and Otis Rush. Unfortunately, Cobra went out of business after two years, and Dixon returned to Chess. In addition to his songwriting and producing chores, he also formed the Chicago Blues All-Stars and toured extensively with them.

In the 1970s and 1980s he got involved in composing film soundtracks, and he wrote the score for Martin Scorsese's The Color of Money (1986). In 1980 he was inducted into the Blues Foundation's Hall of Fame. He still played clubs, festivals and toured the US and Europe, in addition to his songwriting and producing work. By 1990, however, his health began to decline and he had to cut down on his touring and scale back his performances with the Chicago Blues All-Stars. He died of a heart ailment in Burbank, California, two years later.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: frankfob2@yahoo.com

Spouse (1)

Marie Booker (1957 - ?) (5 children)

Trivia (1)

Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994 (under the category Early Influence).

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