Wesley Wilson

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Wesley Wilson
Birth name Wesley Shellie Wilson
Also known as Kid Wilson, Jenkins, Socks, Sox (or Socks) Wilson
Born (1893-10-01)October 1, 1893
Jacksonville, Florida, United States
Died October 10, 1958(1958-10-10) (aged 65)
Cape May Court House, New Jersey, United States[1]
Genres Blues, jazz[2]
Occupation(s) Singer, songwriter, guitarist, pianist, organist
Instruments Vocals, piano, organ
Years active 1900s–1940s
Labels Paramount,[3] various

Wesley Shellie Wilson (October 1, 1893 – October 10, 1958),[4] often credited as Kid Wilson, was an American blues and jazz singer and songwriter.[2] His stagecraft and performances with his wife and musical partner, Coot Grant, were popular with African-American audiences in the 1910s, 1920s and early 1930s.[3][5]

His stage names included Kid Wilson, Jenkins, Socks, and Sox (or Socks) Wilson. His musical excursions included participation in the duo of Pigmeat Pete and Catjuice Charlie.[2] His recordings include the songs "Blue Monday on Sugar Hill" and "Rasslin' till the Wagon Comes".[1]

Biography[edit]

Wilson was born and raised in Jacksonville, Florida. He played the piano and organ, and Coot Grant played the guitar and sang and danced.[2]

The duo was variously billed as Grant and Wilson, Kid and Coot, and Hunter and Jenkins, as they went on to appear and later record with Fletcher Henderson, Mezz Mezzrow, Sidney Bechet, and Louis Armstrong. Their variety was such that they performed separately and together in vaudeville, musical comedies, revues and traveling shows. They also appeared in the 1933 film The Emperor Jones, starring Paul Robeson.[2]

Wilson and Grant wrote more than 400 songs during their career,[6] including "Gimme a Pigfoot (And a Bottle of Beer)" (1933) and "Take Me for a Buggy Ride" (both of which were made famous by Bessie Smith's recordings of them) and "Find Me at the Greasy Spoon (If You Miss Me Here)" (1925)[7] and "Prince of Wails" for Fletcher Henderson. Their own renditions included such diverse titles as "Come on Coot, Do That Thing" (1925), "Dem Socks Dat My Pappy Wore," and the unreleased "Throat Cutting Blues".[2]

Grant and Wilson's act, once seen as a rival of Butterbeans and Susie,[3] began to lose favor with the public by the middle of the 1930s, but they recorded again in 1938.[2]

Their only child, Bobby Wilson, was born in 1941.[8]

By 1946, after Mezz Mezzrow had founded his King Jazz record label, he engaged them as songwriters.[2] This association led to their final recording session, in 1946, backed by a quintet including Bechet and Mezzrow.[8] Wilson retired in ill health shortly thereafter,[6] but Grant continued performing into the 1950s.[2] In January 1953, one commentator noted that the couple had moved from New York to Los Angeles and were in considerable financial hardship.[9]

Wilson died of a stroke, aged 65, in October 1958 in Cape May Court House, New Jersey.[1]

His entire recorded work, with and without Grant, was issued in three chronological volumes by Document Records in 1998.[10]

Selected songs composed by Wilson[edit]

Song title Recorded by
"All the Time" LaVern Baker
"Blue Monday on Sugar Hill" Sidney Bechet, Charlie Shavers
"Chicky-Mo, Craney-Crow" Louis Jordan
"De Laff's on You" Louis Jordan
"Do You Call That a Buddy?" Louis Armstrong, Louis Jordan, Carl Weathersby, B.B. King, Dr. John
"Do Your Duty" Bessie Smith, Billie Holiday, Buck Clayton, Rory Block, Saffire – The Uppity Blues Women
"I'm Down in the Dumps" Bessie Smith, Jack Teagarden, Rory Block, Valerie Wellington
"Ghost of Yesterday" Billie Holiday
"Gimme a Pigfoot (and a Bottle of Beer)" Bessie Smith, Billie Holiday, Nina Simone, Abbey Lincoln, Count Basie, Bobby Short, Judith Durham
"It's Full or It Ain't No Good" Louis Jordan, Billie Holiday, Rory Block, Saffire – The Uppity Blues Women
"Prince of Wails" Fletcher Henderson
"Somebody Done Hoodooed the Hoodoo Man" Louis Jordan
"Take Me for a Buggy Ride" Bessie Smith
"Toot It, Brother Armstrong" Sidney Bechet
"Uncle Joe" Sidney Bechet

[11]

Compilation discography[edit]

Year Title Record label
1998 Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 1 (1925–1928) Document
1998 Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 2 (1928–1931) Document
1998 Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 3 (1931–1938) Document

[10]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Doc Rock. "The 50s and Earlier". The Dead Rock Stars Club. Retrieved 2014-01-31. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i Chadbourne, Eugene (1958-10-10). "Wesley Wilson | Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved 2014-01-31. 
  3. ^ a b c "Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 1 (1925–1928), Coot Grant: Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic.com. 1998-01-02. Retrieved 2014-01-31. 
  4. ^ Eagle, Bob; LeBlanc, Eric S. (2013). Blues: A Regional Experience. Santa Barbara, California: Praeger. p. 508. ISBN 978-0313344237. 
  5. ^ Price, Sammy (1989). What Do They Want? A Jazz Autobiography. Wheatley, Oxford, England: Bayou Press. p. 32. ISBN 1-871478-25-1. 
  6. ^ a b Fuqua, C.S. (2011). Alabama Musicians: Musical Heritage from the Heart of Dixie. Charleston, South Carolina: History Press. p. 151. ISBN 978-1-60949-157-4. 
  7. ^ Shepherd, John (2003). Continuum Encyclopedia of Popular Music of the World. Vol. 2. New York: Continuum. p. 92. ISBN 0-8264-6321-5. 
  8. ^ a b "Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 3 (1931–1938) – Coot Grant | Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 2014-01-31. 
  9. ^ Levin, Floyd (2000). Classic Jazz: A Personal View of the Music and the Musicians. Los Angeles: University of California Press. pp. 169/172. ISBN 0-520-23463-4. 
  10. ^ a b "Coot Grant | Discography". AllMusic. Retrieved 2014-01-31. 
  11. ^ "Wesley Wilson | Songs". AllMusic. 1958-10-10. Retrieved 2014-01-31.