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Willie Mabon

The sly, insinuating vocals and chunky piano style of Willie Mabon won the heart of many an R&B fan during the early '50s. His salty Chess waxings "I Don't Know," "I'm Mad," and "Poison Ivy" established the pianist as a genuine Chicago blues force, but he faded as an R&B hitmaker at the dawn of rock & roll. Mabon was already well-grounded in blues tradition from his Memphis upbringing when he hit Chicago in 1942. Schooled in jazz as well as blues, Mabon found the latter his ticket to stardom. His first sides were a 1949 78 for Apollo as Big Willie and some 1950 outings for Aristocrat and Chess with guitarist Earl Dranes as the Blues Rockers.

But Mabon's asking price for a night's work rose dramatically when his 1952 debut release on powerful Windy City DJ Al Benson's Parrot logo, "I Don't Know," topped the R&B charts for eight weeks after being sold to Chess. From then on, Mabon was a Chess artist, returning to the top R&B slot the next year with the ominous "I'm Mad" and cracking the Top Ten anew with the Mel London-penned "Poison Ivy" in 1954. Throughout his Chess tenure, piano and sax were consistently to the fore rather than guitar and harp, emphasizing Mabon's cool R&B approach. His original version of Willie Dixon's hoodoo-driven "The Seventh Son" bombed in 1955, as did the remainder of his fine Chess catalog. Mabon never regained his momentum after leaving Chess. He stopped at Federal in 1957, Mad in 1960, Formal in 1962 (where he stirred up some local sales with his leering "Got to Have Some"), and USA in 1963-1964. Mabon sat out much of the late '60s but came back strong after moving to Paris in 1972, recording and touring Europe prolifically until his death. ~ Bill Dahl
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: I'm The Fixer: The Best Of The U.S.A. Records Sessions

1. Got To Have Some

2. Why Did It Happen To Me

3. Just Got Some

4. That's No Big Thing

5. Too Hot To Handle

6. I'm The Fixer

7. Don't Let That Music Die

8. Lover Gal

9. I'm Hongry

10. Ruby's Monkey

11. Some More

12. New Orleans Blues

13. Somebody Gotta Pay

14. Harmonica Special

15. Lonesome Blue Water

16. Some Time I Wonder

17. Something For Nothing

18. Baby Sweets

x

Track List: I'm Mad (Single)

1. I'm Mad

x

Track List: Legendary Bop, Rhythm & Blues Classics: Willie Mabon (Single)

1. Worry Blues

2. I Don't Know

Comments

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Continued... .
alright. I think about him every day and what a wonderful man he was. He loved his music and he loved his family very much and told us so frequently. He's been gone for a while & sometimes I dream that we're sitting at the piano again. This time I'm playing the piano with eyes closed, beads of sweat & he's gently patting my back saying everyrhing will be alright. I miss you Daddy everyday and yes, through the grace of God everything is going to be alright.
Tammy Mabon Orr
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Willie Mabon was a soulful and talented man who was able to get the listener to feel his pain, joy, and sorrow as soon as his fingertips touched the keys of his piano. He would immerse himself into his music, close his eyes and play til beads of sweat poured down his face. I would sit next to him and watch his face, sometimes patting him gently on the back. Although I was five years old and didnt understand what he was going thru then, I just wanted him to know that everything was going to be al
Report as inappropriate
alissajoycru z
Ssschwinnngg ! !

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