Born and raised in Buffalo, New York singer/songwriter Willie Nile came from a musical family -- his grandfather was a vaudeville pianist who played with Bill "Bojangles" Robinson and Eddie Cantor, and his uncles played boogie-woogie. Nile's older brothers, meanwhile, brought home the music of Elvis Presley, the Everly Brothers, Buddy Holly, and Fats Domino, all of whom he heard from the time he was three or four years old. Nile himself began playing piano at age eight and took classical music lessons until he was a teenager, when he taught himself his first rock & roll song. He soon began to compose short songs and continued the habit into his college years, when during the summers he made trips into New York City to frequent hootenanny clubs like Folk City and the Gaslight. After graduation, Nile took an apartment in the heart of Greenwich Village; however, during his first winter in New York, he contracted pneumonia, which put him out of commission for about a year, although he continued writing songs while recuperating. After regaining his health, he began hanging out at clubs like CBGB's, where he would see bands like Patti Smith, Television, the Ramones, and Talking Heads.
At establishing residency at the Village club Kenny's Castaways, Nile began drawing ever-growing crowds, which in turn led to his first record deal. Following a flurry of critical acclaim, he found himself courted by representatives from close to a dozen record companies; he chose Arista Records, and went into the studio with a band that included Jay Dee Daugherty from the Patti Smith Group. After two acclaimed albums a self-titled 1980 effort and 1981's Golden Dawn, Nile fell prey to protracted legal problems which derailed his career for a number of years; although he continued to write, he did not perform live or record again until a 1987 performance in Oslo, Norway with Eric Andersen. A videotape of Nile's performance in Norway prompted a Columbia talent scout to sign him to the label in 1988, and production on his album didn't start for two more years; issued in
While he played Europe and toured the East Coast, Nile took a decade-long hiatus from recording. He finally emerged energized on 2006's Streets of New York in 2006 with guest appearances by Larry Campbell and Jakob Dylan, which marked the beginning of a regular recording schedule. He issued two offerings in 2007, Live at the Turning Point, and the studio offering Beautiful Wreck of the World. Live from the Streets of New York appeared in 2008, followed by the studio set House of a Thousand Guitars in 2009. Nile's touring schedule picked up considerably after its release. He issued the acclaimed The Innocent Ones in 2011 and followed it two years later with American Ride. ~ Richard Skelly, Rovi