Saturday, October 24, 2009

Artist of the week - Willie Mabon

Happy birthday to Willie Mabon

(B: Oct. 24, 1925; D: April 19, 1985)

Considered more sophisticated and urbane than "downhome" Bluesmen such as Muddy Waters, Willie Mabon provided some great tunes - often covered by other artists - that have made him legendary, such as "I'm Mad," "Poison Ivy" and the quirky "I Don't Know," which was perhaps his biggest hit.

Willie Dixon, in his "I Am the Blues" biography, attributes Mabon's lack of success with the Chess label to his interest in being paid for his work, which was often not the case for Blues artists in the 50s.

Arguing over the dollar was a sure way not to be invited back to record - at least not in a hurry. However, Mabon's legend will stand the test of time. His sultry, slurry vocals, piano and harmonica expertise land him firmly in the realm of the Chicago Blues greats.

Clair DeLune Oct. 25, 2009

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