Smokey Wilson

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Smokey Wilson
Birth name Robert Lee Wilson
Born (1936-07-11)July 11, 1936
Glen Allan, Mississippi, U.S.
Died September 8, 2015(2015-09-08) (aged 79)
Genres West Coast blues, Juke Joint blues
Occupation(s) Guitarist, singer, songwriter
Instruments Guitar, vocals
Years active 1970s-2015
Labels P-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.


Born in Glen Allan, Mississippi, United States,[1] and raised in Lake Village, Arkansas, Robert Lee Wilson 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 their house band. In addition his duties included booking blues musicians to appear at the club, which included Big Joe Turner, Percy Mayfield, Pee Wee Crayton and Albert Collins.[1] His down to earth guitar playing is 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 re-issued on Blind Pig Records) had contributions from Rod Piazza (harmonica and record producer) and Hollywood Fats (rhythm guitar).[1] Wilson has performed three times 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 try to secure nationwide recognition, he appeared on the PBS special, Three Generation of Blues, with Robert Cray and John Lee Hooker. He has also featured in various television commercials including UPN's "The Watcher," and FOX's "Divas", plus in a music video made by Babyface.[4]

On September 8, 2015, Wilson died in his sleep.[2]


  • Blowin' Smoke (1977) - Big Town (re-issued on CD by P-Vine)
  • Sings the Blues (1978) - Big Town (re-issued on CD by P-Vine)
  • 88th Street Blues (1983) - (re-issued in 1995 on 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) - (Unreleased Big Town recordings on P-Vine)
  • Ready To Roll (2003) - (with Andy T Band) - Marble[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Bill Dahl (1936-07-11). "Smokey Wilson | Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved 2014-01-29. 
  2. ^ a b "Blind Dog Radio: 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 Limited. pp. 190–191. ISBN 1-85868-255-X. 
  4. ^ a b "Blind Pig Records". Blind Pig Records. Retrieved 2015-10-05. 
  5. ^ "Smokey Wilson | Album Discography". AllMusic. 1936-07-11. Retrieved 2015-10-05. 

External links[edit]