Smokey Wilson

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Smokey Wilson
Birth nameRobert Lee Wilson
Born(1936-07-11)July 11, 1936
Glen Allan, Mississippi, United States
DiedSeptember 8, 2015(2015-09-08) (aged 79)
Los Angeles, California, United States
GenresWest Coast blues, Juke Joint blues
Occupation(s)Guitarist, singer, songwriter
Instrument(s)Guitar, vocals
Years active1970s-2015
LabelsP-Vine Records, various

Robert Lee "Smokey" Wilson (July 11, 1936 – September 8, 2015)[1][2] was an American West Coast blues guitarist. He spent most of his career performing West Coast blues and juke joint blues in Los Angeles, California. He recorded a number of albums for record labels such as P-Vine Records, Bullseye Blues and Texmuse Records. His career got off to a late start, with international recognition eluding him until the 1990s.


Wilson was born in Glen Allan, Mississippi,[1] and raised in Lake Village, Arkansas, He played alongside Roosevelt "Booba" Barnes, Big Jack Johnson, and Frank Frost, before his move to Los Angeles in 1970.[3] He opened the Pioneer Club in Watts, where he was the frontman of the house band. He also In booked blues musicians to perform at the club, including Big Joe Turner, Percy Mayfield, Pee Wee Crayton and Albert Collins.[1] His down-to-earth guitar playing was typical of his Mississippi Delta background. "I bring the cotton-field with me," he said, "and I got the juke-joint inside."[3]

Wilson released two albums on Big Town Records in the 1970s.[1][3] His 1983 album, 88th Street Blues, for the Murray Brothers label (later reissued by Blind Pig Records) had contributions from Rod Piazza (harmonica and record producer) and Hollywood Fats (rhythm guitar).[1] Wilson performed at the Long Beach Blues Festival in 1980, 1981 and 1999;[4] having earlier appeared at the San Francisco Blues Festival in 1978.

Smoke n' Fire (1993) and The Real Deal (1995) followed, as Wilson's reputation began to grow as he reached his sixtieth year.[1]

Whilst Wilson's years of residency at the Pioneer Club did little to secure nationwide recognition, he appeared on the PBS special Three Generation of Blues, with Robert Cray and John Lee Hooker. He also appeared in various television commercials, including UPN's "The Watcher," and FOX's "Divas", plus in a music video made by Babyface.[4]

Wilson died in his sleep on September 8, 2015, in Los Angeles, California.[2][5]


  • Blowin' Smoke (1977), Big Town; reissued on CD by P-Vine
  • Sings the Blues (1978), Big Town; reissued on CD by P-Vine
  • 88th Street Blues (1983); reissued in 1995 by Blind Pig
  • With the William Clarke Band (1990), Black Magic
  • Smoke n' Fire (1993), Bullseye Blues
  • The Real Deal (1995), Bullseye Blues
  • The Man from Mars (1997), Bullseye Blues
  • Smokey Stack Lightnin' (1995), Vivid Sound; recorded in Japan
  • Push (1999), previously unreleased Big Town recordings, P-Vine
  • Ready to Roll (2003), with the Andy T Band, Marble[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Dahl, Bill. "Smokey Wilson: Biography". Retrieved 2014-01-29.
  2. ^ a b "In Memoriam: Smokey Wilson (July 11, 1936 – September 8, 2015)". 2015-09-17. Retrieved 2015-10-05.
  3. ^ a b c Russell, Tony (1997). The Blues: From Robert Johnson to Robert Cray. Dubai: Carlton Books. pp. 190–191. ISBN 1-85868-255-X.
  4. ^ a b "Blind Pig Records". Retrieved 2015-10-05.
  5. ^ "Something Inside of Me by Smokey Wilson". Retrieved 2017-04-28.
  6. ^ "Smokey Wilson: Album Discography". Retrieved 2015-10-05.