Willis Alan Ramsey
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|Willis Alan Ramsey|
Willis Alan Ramsey in Austin (2008)
Willis Alan Ramsey (born March 5, 1951) is an American singer/songwriter, a cult legend among fans of Americana and Texas country. He was born in Birmingham, Alabama and raised in Dallas, Texas. Ramsey graduated from Highland Park High School in 1969, and was a prominent baritone in the High School's Lads and Lassies Choir. In his senior year, he played a leading role in the musical Carousel. He released the critically acclaimed album, Willis Alan Ramsey, in 1972 on the Shelter label. The album included "Muskrat Candlelight" which was covered twice as "Muskrat Love," first by America in 1973, then by Captain & Tennille, who scored a #4 hit with the tune.
Windham Hill artist Michael Hedges cited Ramsey as a strong influence on his left-handed tapping techniques. In a radio interview, Hedges claimed he developed the technique listening to Ramsey's album, saying Ramsey had no idea "how I got it from him, so I guess I'm safe."
Owing to conflict with his label, Ramsey left Shelter at the end of his contract. As a result, Ramsey's fans have been waiting more than 40 years for the release of his "mythical second album". When asked where the new album is, he often responds, "What's wrong with the first one?"
In the 1980s, he moved to Great Britain to reconnect with his ancestry and study traditional and modern music narrative. At the same time, he enjoyed a revival in the United States, due in part to numerous artists who cut versions of Ramsey's songs, including Widespread Panic ("Geraldine & The Honey Bee"), Jerry Jeff Walker ("Northeast Texas Women"), Waylon Jennings, Shawn Colvin ("Satin Sheets"), Jimmy Buffett ("The Ballad of Spider John," "Northeast Texas Women"), and Jimmie Dale Gilmore ("Goodbye to Old Missoula"). In 1989, he returned to the United States and began performing again. Backed by Champ Hood, multi-instrumentalist (of Uncle Walt's Band fame), Ramsey could often be found on the same bill with another Dallas singer-songwriter, Alison Rogers. The two married in 1991 and continue to perform together. In 1996, Ramsey and Rogers co-wrote Lyle Lovett's hit, "That's Right, You're Not From Texas".
In 2000, Ramsey appeared on Austin City Limits, showcasing his new material and performing his classics. He is currently mixing his new album, "Gentilly", an independent release, financed by old friends and fans mostly from the Dallas and Austin area. Co-produced by Willis, Alison Rogers and Jamie Oldaker, guest musicians include Oldaker (drums, percussion); Sam Bush & Tim O'Brien (mandolin, vocals); Viktor Krauss, Roscoe Beck & Freebo (bass); Bruce Bouton (steel guitar); Mickey Raphael (harmonica); Walt Richmond (piano, organ); Joel Guzman (accordion); Marcia Ball, Tommy Malone, Abra Moore & Alison Rogers (vocals). Ramsey, Rogers, and Everett Moran are engineering.
- Peppard, Alan (16 September 2009). "Seminal songwriter Willis Alan Ramsey prepares his second album - 37 years later". Dallas Morning News. Retrieved 18 February 2010.