Sunday, December 08, 2013

RIP Robert 'Chick' Willis

Just heard that Robert 'Chick' Willis has passed on (It was posted on his Facebook page). He had been battling lung cancer for some time.

Above he is seen in 2005 playing show at Lamont's in PoMonkey Maryland (Charles County). He always put on a great show mixing straight blues with a few bawdy ones including "Stoop Down Baby" which was a hit for him in the late sixties. A cousin of Chuck Willis, I had the pleasure seeing him a number of times at Lamont's where he would play regularly. He wrote a variety of originals and did strong personal renditions of such blues classics as "Love Me With a Feeling" and "Let Me Play With Your Poodle."

In a 2006 review of the tribute record he did with DC area saxophonist Jacques Johnson, I wrote "Its been close to forty years since this writer acquired a 45 by one Chick Willis that included a solid rendition of Guitar Slim’s The Things I Used to Do. Shortly thereafter, Chick recorded another single that would generate his career defining song, Stoop Down Baby. Such a song can be a blessing and a curse because it does provide work but it is also an albatross that prevents folks from appreciating just how good and varied a blues performer he is as opposed to be limited to bawdy double entendre numbers."

Chick was a terrific, soulful singer and guitarist. He is part of a dying breed of blues artists today. It is becoming unfortunately rare to hear folks like Chick anymore at what are 'supposed' blues festivals.

Here is Chick from the last time I saw him performing (again at Lamont's in 2012). He certainly liked that outfit.

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