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Lefty Dizz

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Lefty Dizz
Birth nameWalter Williams
Born(1937-04-29)April 29, 1937
Osceola, Arkansas, United States
DiedSeptember 7, 1993(1993-09-07) (aged 56)
Chicago, Illinois, United States
GenresChicago blues, electric blues[1]
Occupation(s)Guitarist, singer
Years activeLate 1950s–1993
LabelsIsabel, JSP, Black & Blue, Wolf

Lefty Dizz (April 29, 1937 – September 7, 1993)[2] was an American Chicago blues guitarist and singer whose recorded work was released on eight albums.[1]

As well as fronting his own band, he worked with Junior Wells, J. B. Lenoir and Hound Dog Taylor.[2] One commentator noted that "for wild-ass showmen in blues history ... one would certainly have to go a far piece to beat Lefty Dizz".[1] He favoured a right-handed Fender Stratocaster, which he played left-handed, hence the first part of his stage name.[3] The derivation of the second part of his stage name is uncertain. According to one source, the name came from his playing the trumpet in the style of Dizzy Gillespie;[3] another source says that Ted Harvey, the drummer for Hound Dog Taylor & the HouseRockers, gave him the nickname in reference to his "playing jazz in the alley".[1]

He was reputedly the brother of blues musician Johnny Dollar.[4]



He was born Walter Williams in Osceola, Arkansas.[1] He learned the rudiments of guitar playing while serving for four years in the United States Air Force. Unlike other left-handed players who restrung their instruments to mirror the conventional string order, Dizz played a right-handed guitar upside down, thereby reversing the order of the strings. After his discharge in 1956, he moved first to Detroit and then to Chicago, where he settled permanently. In Chicago he played under the guidance of Lacy Gibson and Earl Hooker. He was proficient enough to join Sonny Thompson's band in 1958. He also worked with Junior Cannady and John Lee Hooker. In a major career move in 1964, he became a member of Junior Wells's backing ensemble. They toured around the world until 1971, when Dizz joined Hound Dog Taylor and the HouseRockers. He remained a member of that band until Taylor's death in 1975. He then formed the band Shock Treatment, and with this ensemble he further developed his flamboyant performing act, which included raunchy jokes as well as his showy but skillful guitar playing.[5] His pleasant, jocular character was complemented by his intelligence; he received a degree in economics from Southern Illinois University.[1]

Dizz performed at Chicago clubs, such as the Kingston Mines, B.L.U.E.S. and the Checkerboard Lounge, and toured internationally. His playing was witnessed by members of the Rolling Stones and Foghat.[1] He played on the recording of Live at the Checkerboard Lounge, Chicago 1981 with Muddy Waters and Rolling Stones Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Ron Wood.[6] His studio recordings did not capture the essence of his live performances.[7]

Dizz died of effects of esophageal cancer on September 7, 1993, at the age of 56.[2]


Year Title Record label
1979 Somebody Stole My Christmas Isabel Records
1979 Lefty Dizz feat. Big Moose Walker Black & Blue Records[7]
1982 Lefty Dizz and Shock Treatment Live in Chicago Independent[8]
1982 Lefty Dizz and Shock Treatment Live at the Kingston Mines, Volume 1 Independent[8]
1983 Lefty Dizz and Shock Treatment Live at the Kingston Mines, Volume 2 Independent[8]
1985 Bad Avenue feat. T-Bone Pegues Xalapeno Musicworks[8]
1995 Ain't It Nice to Be Loved JSP Records[9]
2002 Walked All Night Long with Louisiana Red – originally recorded in 1976 The Blues Alliance[10]
2007 The Healer, Carlos Johnson & Lefty Dizz Wolf Records[11]


See also





  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Koda, Cub. "Lefty Dizz: Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved September 19, 2012.
  2. ^ a b c Doc Rock. "The Dead Rock Stars Club 1992–1993". TheDeadRockStarsClub.com. Retrieved September 19, 2012.
  3. ^ a b Room, Adrian (July 26, 2010). Dictionary of Pseudonyms: 13,000 Assumed Names and Their Origins. ISBN 9780786457632. Retrieved September 19, 2012.
  4. ^ "Johnny Dollar, Part 2". Bluesmusicnow.com. Retrieved September 19, 2012.
  5. ^ Milano, Dean. The Chicago Music Scene: 1960s and 1970s. ISBN 9780738577296. Retrieved September 19, 2012.
  6. ^ Leggett, Steve. "Muddy Waters, the Rolling Stones, Checkerboard Lounge: Live Chicago 1981: Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved October 24, 2012.
  7. ^ a b Koda, Cub. "Lefty Dizz, Lefty Dizz with Big Moose Walker: Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved September 19, 2012.
  8. ^ a b c d "Lefty Dizz and Shock Treatment Live in Chicago". Jimmiesmith.com. Retrieved September 19, 2012.
  9. ^ "Artist Spotlight: Lefty Dizz". Senorbluesblog.blogspot.co.uk. March 6, 2011. Retrieved September 19, 2012.
  10. ^ "Louisiana Red". Allaboutbluesmusic.com. Retrieved August 17, 2017.
  11. ^ "The Healer, Carlos Johnson & Lefty Dizz (May 14, 2007)". SecondHandSongs.com. Retrieved September 19, 2012.