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Willie West

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Sweet Bayou Soul

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Tuesday, Dec 26, 2017

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Willie West Media

Willie West

About Willie West

Born Millard Leon West, Willie West grew up in Raceland, Louisiana listening to Eddie Bo, BB King, and Bobby Blue Bland. As a youngster, he frequently went to Thibodaux to see his idols Guitar Slim and James ‘Thunderbird’ Davis. Guitar Slim would sit outside of his room at Sugar Bowl drinking wine and playing his guitar. Too young to go into the Sugar Bowl, Willie remembers looking in the window and seeing Guitar Slim hanging from the rafters playing his guitar. ‘Thunderbird’ Davis would have a profound effect on Willie in terms of singing and showmanship.

Bitten by the bug, Willie formed his first band the Sharks with his cousin on guitar. Playing clubs like Tee Maws and the Two Tone in Raceland and the surrounding bayou Lafourche area, Willie and the Sharks became a regional success, opening up for Solomon Burke, Jimmy Reed, and Freddie King.

He moved to New Orleans to work with Deacon John and the Ivories, Edgar Blanchard and the Gondoliers and Oliver and the Rockettes. Called Little Willie West, he was a dancing machine who bought his pants off the boys rack.

By the end of the sixties, Willie was singing with Deacon John’s the Electric Soul Train. During this time, he cut an Allen Toussaint-produced record, with the Meters rumored to have provided backing on the tracks, ‘Fairchild’ and ‘I Sleep With The Blues.’ in the early 70s, he sang (uncredited) on the Allen Toussaint produced soundtrack for the blaxploitation film Black Samson.

When Art and Cyril Neville left the Meters in 1977, Willie joined them until they broke up in the early 80s. Following the Meters, Willie performed on Bourbon Street on and off for the next twenty years. He also worked with Bobby Love in the Uptown Rulers. Following hurricane Katrina, Willie moved to the Saint Cloud area and has been there ever since, and is currently recording an album.

What Other People Have Been Saying...

“a rare treasure… He’s still making heart-breaking anthems… magical” – Juno Records