Wesley Wilson

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Wesley Wilson
Also known as Kid Wilson, Jenkins, Socks, and either Sox Wilson or Socks Wilson
Born (1893-10-01)October 1, 1893
Jacksonville, Florida, United States
Died October 10, 1958(1958-10-10) (aged 65)
Cape May Court House, New Jersey, United States[1]
Genres Blues, jazz[2]
Occupation(s) Singer, songwriter, guitarist, pianist, organist
Instruments Vocals, piano, organ
Years active 1900s–1940s
Labels Paramount,[3] various

Wesley Wilson (October 1, 1893 – October 10, 1958) was an American blues and jazz singer and songwriter.[2] His own stage craft, plus the double act with his wife and musical partner, Coot Grant, was popular with African American audiences in the 1910s, 1920s and early 1930s.[3][4]

His stage names included Kid Wilson, Jenkins, Socks, and either Sox Wilson or Socks Wilson. His musical excursions included participation in the oddly named duo of Pigmeat Pete and Catjuice Charlie.[2] Wilson recorded songs such as "Blue Monday on Sugar Hill" and "Rasslin' Till The Wagon Comes".[1]

Biography[edit]

He was born in Jacksonville, Florida, United States. Wilson played both piano and organ, whilst Coot Grant strummed guitar as well as sing and dance.[2]

The duo's billing also varied between Grant and Wilson, Kid and Coot, and Hunter and Jenkins, as they went on to appear and later record with Fletcher Henderson, Mezz Mezzrow, Sidney Bechet, and Louis Armstrong. Their variety was such that they performed separately and together in vaudeville, musical comedies, revues and traveling shows. This ability to adapt also saw them appear in the 1933 film, The Emperor Jones, alongside Paul Robeson.[2]

In addition to this, the twosome wrote in excess of 400 songs over their working lifetime.[5] That list included "Gimme a Pigfoot (And a Bottle of Beer)" (1933) and "Take Me for a Buggy Ride", which were both made famous by Bessie Smith's recording of the songs, plus "Find Me at the Greasy Spoon (If You Miss Me Here)" (1925)[6] and "Prince of Wails" for Fletcher Henderson. Their own renditions included the diverse, "Come on Coot, Do That Thing" (1925), "Dem Socks Dat My Pappy Wore," and "Throat Cutting Blues" (although the latter remains unreleased)."[2]

Although Grant and Wilson's act, once seen as a serious rival to Butterbeans and Susie,[3] began to lose favor with the public by the middle of the 1930s, they recorded further songs in 1938.[2] Their only child, Bobby Wilson, was born in 1941.[7] By 1946, and after Mezz Mezzrow had founded his King Jazz record label, he engaged them as songwriters.[2] In that year, the association led to their final recording session backed by a quintet incorporating Bechet and Mezzrow.[7]

Wilson retired in ill health shortly thereafter,[5] but Grant continued performing into the 1950s.[2] In January 1953, one commentator noted that the couple had moved from New York to Los Angeles, but were in considerable financial hardship.[8]

Wilson died from a stroke, aged 65, in October 1958 in Cape May Court House, New Jersey.[1]

In 1998, his entire recorded work, both with and without Grant, was made available in three chronological volumes by Document Records.[9]

Selected songs composed by Wilson[edit]

Song title Recorded by
"All the Time" LaVern Baker
"Blue Monday on Sugar Hill" Sidney Bechet, Charlie Shavers
"Chicky-Mo, Craney-Crow" Louis Jordan
"De Laff's on You" Louis Jordan
"Do You Call That a Buddy?" Louis Armstrong, Louis Jordan, Carl Weathersby, B.B. King, Dr. John
"Do Your Duty" Bessie Smith, Billie Holiday, Buck Clayton, Rory Block, Saffire – The Uppity Blues Women
"I'm Down in the Dumps" Bessie Smith, Jack Teagarden, Rory Block, Valerie Wellington
"Ghost of Yesterday" Billie Holiday
"Gimme a Pigfoot (And a Bottle of Beer)" Bessie Smith, Billie Holiday, Nina Simone, Abbey Lincoln, Count Basie, Bobby Short
"It's Full or It Ain't No Good" Louis Jordan, Billie Holiday, Rory Block, Saffire – The Uppity Blues Women
"Prince of Wails" Fletcher Henderson
"Somebody Done Hoodooed the Hoodoo Man" Louis Jordan
"Take Me for a Buggy Ride" Bessie Smith
"Toot It, Brother Armstrong" Sidney Bechet
"Uncle Joe" Sidney Bechet

[10]

Compilation discography[edit]

Year Title Record label
1998 Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 1 (1925-1928) Document
1998 Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 2 (1928-1931) Document
1998 Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 3 (1931-1938) Document

[9]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Doc Rock. "The 50s and earlier". The Dead Rock Stars Club. Retrieved 2014-01-31. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i Eugene Chadbourne (1958-10-10). "Wesley Wilson | Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved 2014-01-31. 
  3. ^ a b c "Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 1 (1925-1928) - Coot Grant | Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. 1998-01-02. Retrieved 2014-01-31. 
  4. ^ Price, Sammy (1989). What do they want?: a jazz autobiography (1st ed.). Wheatley, Oxford, England: Bayou Press Limited. p. 32. ISBN 1-871478-25-1. 
  5. ^ a b Fuqua, C.S. (2011). Alabama Musicians: Musical Heritage from the Heart of Dixie (1st ed.). Charleston, South Carolina: The History Press. p. 151. ISBN 978-1-60949-157-4. 
  6. ^ Shepherd, John (2003). Continuum encyclopedia of popular music of the world: Volume II (1st ed.). New York: Continuum. p. 92. ISBN 0-8264-6321-5. 
  7. ^ a b "Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 3 (1931-1938) - Coot Grant | Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 2014-01-31. 
  8. ^ Levin, Floyd (2000). Classic Jazz: A Personal View of the Music and the Musicians (1st ed.). Los Angeles, California: University of California Press. pp. 169/172. ISBN 0-520-23463-4. 
  9. ^ a b "Coot Grant | Discography". AllMusic. Retrieved 2014-01-31. 
  10. ^ "Wesley Wilson | Songs". AllMusic. 1958-10-10. Retrieved 2014-01-31.