Little Willie John

Born: 
11/15/1937
City: 
Cullendale
Region: 
Arkansas
Country: 
USA
Died: 
05/26/1968
Years Active: 
1955-1968
Instruments: 
Vocals

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William Edward John, better known by his stage name Little Willie John, was born in Cullendale, but moved with his family to Detroit when he was four so that his father could pursue factory work. In the late 1940s, the eldest children, including Willie, formed a gospel singing group, and Willie also performed in talent shows, which brought him to the notice of Johnny Otis and, later, musician and producer Henry Glover. After seeing him sing with the Paul "Hucklebuck" Williams orchestra, Glover signed him to a recording contract with King Records in 1955. He was nicknamed "Little Willie" John for his short stature.

Willie John was known for his short temper and propensity to abuse alcohol, and was dropped by his record company in 1963. In 1966, he was convicted of manslaughter and sent to Washington State Penitentiary for a fatal knifing incident following a show in Seattle. Little Willie John died in 1968 at Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla, Washington. Despite counter claims, the official cause of death was listed in his death certificate as a heart attack.

His interment was in Michigan's Detroit Memorial Park East.

Discography

Concerts

Event Datesort descending Venue City Region Country
Jazz in Miniature 09/13/1954 Gold Coast Theatre Detroit Michigan USA
Lucky Seven Blues 11/11/1955 Saginaw Auditorium Saginaw Michigan USA
Little Willie John 03/09/1956 Club Vogue Inkster Michigan USA
Little Willie John 03/10/1956 Club Vogue Inkster Michigan USA
Little Willie John 03/11/1956 Club Vogue Inkster Michigan USA
Little Willie John 03/12/1956 Club Vogue Inkster Michigan USA
Jazz vs. Rock 'N Roll 03/12/1956 Graystone Ballroom Detroit Michigan USA
Little Willie John 03/13/1956 Club Vogue Inkster Michigan USA
Little Willie John 03/14/1956 Club Vogue Inkster Michigan USA
Little Willie John 03/15/1956 Club Vogue Inkster Michigan USA
Rock 'n' Roll Cavalcade 03/29/1956 Baltimore Coliseum Baltimore Maryland USA
Rhythm & Blues of 1956 04/05/1956 Baltimore Coliseum Baltimore Maryland USA
Rhythm & Blues of 1956 04/14/1956 Tomlinson Hall Indianapolis Indiana USA
R&B Show 09/24/1956 Graystone Ballroom Detroit Michigan USA
X-mas of Rock & Roll & Jazz 12/25/1956 Graystone Ballroom Detroit Michigan USA
The Biggest Show of 1957 01/28/1957 Graystone Ballroom Detroit Michigan USA
Little Willie John 02/01/1957 Club Vogue Inkster Michigan USA
Little Willie John 02/02/1957 Club Vogue Inkster Michigan USA
Little Willie John 02/03/1957 Club Vogue Inkster Michigan USA
Little Willie John 02/04/1957 Club Vogue Inkster Michigan USA
Little Willie John 02/05/1957 Club Vogue Inkster Michigan USA
Little Willie John 02/06/1957 Club Vogue Inkster Michigan USA
Little Willie John 02/07/1957 Club Vogue Inkster Michigan USA
R&B Show 05/27/1957 Graystone Ballroom Detroit Michigan USA
The Big R&B Show of '58 04/09/1958 Skatarena Indianapolis Indiana USA

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