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Dicky Wells

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Dicky Wells
Photo of Wells by William P. Gottlieb
Photo of Wells by William P. Gottlieb
Background information
Birth nameWilliam Wells
Born(1907-06-10)June 10, 1907
Centerville, Tennessee, U.S.
DiedNovember 12, 1985(1985-11-12) (aged 78)
New York City

William Wells (June 10, 1907 – November 12, 1985), known professionally as Dicky Wells (sometimes Dickie Wells), was an American jazz trombonist.[1][2]


Dickie Wells is believed to have been born on June 10, 1907, in Centerville, Tennessee, United States.[3] His brother was trombonist Henry Wells. He moved to New York City in 1926, and became a member of the Lloyd Scott band.[3]

He played with Count Basie between 1938 and 1945 and 1947–1950.[3] He also played with Cecil Scott, Spike Hughes, Fletcher Henderson, Benny Carter, Teddy Hill, Jimmy Rushing, Buck Clayton and Ray Charles.[3] In the middle years of the 1960s, Wells toured and performed extensively, and the onset of alcoholism caused him personal problems which led to his semi-retirement. Publication of his autobiography in 1973 helped to steer Wells back to his profession.[3]

Dicky Wells (left) and brother Henry Wells at Eddie Condon's of New York City in January 1947

In his later years, Wells suffered a severe beating during a mugging that affected his memory, but he recovered and continued to perform.[3] He played frequently at the West End jazz club at 116th and Broadway, most often with a band called The Countsmen, led by alto saxophonist Earle Warren, his colleague from Count Basie days. A trademark of Wells was his "pepper pot" mute, which he made himself.


Dicky Wells (left) and brother Henry Wells at Eddie Condon's of New York City in January 1947

He died of cancer on November 12, 1985, in New York City.[3] Shortly after his death, Wells's family donated his trombone to the Rutgers University Institute of Jazz Studies.


As leader[edit]

  • Bones for the King (Felsted, 1958)
  • Trombone Four-in-Hand (Felsted, 1959)
  • Chatter Jazz with Rex Stewart (RCA Victor, 1959)
  • Heavy Duty! (Vocalion, 1965)
  • Dicky Wells in Paris 1937 (Prestige, 1968)
  • Lonesome Road (Uptown, 1981)
  • The Stanley Dance Sessions (Lone Hill, 2005)
  • Dicky Wells with the Alex Welsh Band (Jazzology, 2011)

As sideman[edit]

With Count Basie

  • Blues by Basie (Columbia, 1956)
  • The Count (RCA Camden, 1958)
  • The Count Swings Out (Coral, 1959)

With Buck Clayton

With Jimmy Rushing

With others


  1. ^ "Dicky Wells | American musician". Encyclopedia Britannica. November 8, 2023.
  2. ^ "Dicky Wells biography". Biography.com. Archived from the original on January 3, 2013. Retrieved October 29, 2013.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Colin Larkin, ed. (2002). The Virgin Encyclopedia of Fifties Music (Third ed.). Virgin Books. p. 484. ISBN 1-85227-937-0.

External links[edit]