|Origin||Mobile, Alabama, U.S.|
Wet Willie is an American band from Mobile, Alabama. Their best-known song, "Keep On Smilin'", reached No. 10 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart in August 1974. Several other of the group's songs also appeared on the singles charts in the 1970s, which utilized their soulful brand of Southern rock.
Drummer Lewis Ross assembled the musicians for a group called "Fox" in the summer of 1969 and after relocating from Mobile, Alabama to Macon, Georgia, home of Capricorn Records, became known as "Wet Willie".  Wet Willie is a versatile, high-energy Southern rock band that, from 1971 until 1978, produced an array of albums awash in good-time music, rollicking high-energy blues-rock, and Southern soul while releasing several charting singles and achieving one Top Ten hit and a lot of admirers. They toured and recorded extensively from 1969 through the early Eighties, and they still perform today in two slightly different versions, depending on whether Jimmy Hall is present. When Hall is with the band, it is billed as Wet Willie; otherwise, it is billed as The Wet Willie Band.
The core members of the band during that period were Jimmy Hall, vocals, harmonica, saxophone; Jimmy's brother Jack Hall on bass; John David Anthony on keyboards; Ricky Hirsch on guitar, and Lewis Ross on drums and percussion. Wick Larsen was added as a second guitarist for a brief stay during the Wet Willie II album period. The duo of girls singing background vocals dubbed "The Williettes" were staple of the classic Wet Willie sound that featured Jimmy & Jack's sister, Donna Hall and Ella Brown Avery. For a short period of time in 1974 UK singer Elkie Brooks joined the band as a backing singer, as did future Honkette Leslie Hawkins. Michael Duke debuted on the album Dixie Rock adding keyboards and vocals and stayed with the band through their tenure in the Southern Rock era. A period of personnel and record label changes followed and in 1978 with a new Epic Records contract the new line-up included Jimmy and Jack Hall, Mike Duke, drummer T.K. Lively, and guitarists Marshall Smith and Larry Berwald through the early 80's. After a brief hiatus the band regrouped in the early 90’s featuring the siblings Jimmy, Jack and Donna Hall, original keyboardist John David Anthony and drummer T.K. Lively as well as long-time members guitarists Ric Seymour and Ricky Chancey.
Wet Willie put out several albums on Capricorn Records between 1971 and 1977. Along with a "Greatest Hits" album released on Polydor Records, they also released two more final studio albums on Epic Records, although some hits collections and further live recordings have been released as recently as 2006. Perhaps their best-known LP is the 1973 live album, Drippin' Wet, but their main claim to fame is the hit single, "Keep On Smilin,'" which reached No. 10 on the Billboard singles chart. They also enjoyed some other Billboard-charted songs with "Country Side of Life," "Everything That 'Cha Do (Will Come Back to You)", "Leona," and from their Epic Records period, "Street Corner Serenade" and "Weekend" from the LPs Manorisms and Which One's Willie?
Reviewing the 1977 Greatest Hits LP in Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies (1981), Robert Christgau wrote: "Alone among Southern boogiemen, the Willies have avoided country as in c&w for country as in funk, and their rhythm section gets away with it—drummer Lewis Ross and bass player Jack Hall are all juke-joint bump-and-grind. In a better world they'd be rednecks in a soul band, but as it is they're stuck in a group with two problems—singer and songs. (Oops, forgot the guitarist, which isn't hard.) Jimmy Hall supposedly combines Ronnie Van Zant's discretion with Gregg Allman's power, but to me he sounds like a cross between Chris Youlden and Lonesome Dave Peverett—with an authentic accent, of course. And although their one lucky strike has been the reggaeish 'Keep On Smilin',' most of the time they strive fruitlessly for r&b tunes as inescapably elementary as the here-included 'Shout Bamalama' and 'Grits Ain't Groceries.' I guarantee you that Little Milton isn't going to return the favor and cover 'Leona' or even 'Baby Fat.' But maybe Stoney Edwards would do 'Airport.'"
In 2012 Wet Willie released a new live CD "Miles of Smiles" on the Hittin' The Note Records label. They continue to tour with three original members including original lead singer Jimmy Hall, brother Jack Hall on bass and vocals, sister Donna Hall Foster on vocals as well as other long time members, drummer T.K. Lively, Ric Seymour on guitar and vocals, Ricky Chancey on guitar and newest member, keyboardist Bobby Mobley.
- America’s Music Award from the Alabama Hall of Fame - 1976
- Inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame - 2014
|Wet Willie II||
|Keep On Smilin'||
|The Wetter The Better||
|Which One's Willie?||
|"—" denotes releases that did not chart|
|Left Coast Live||
|The Best of Wet Willie||—|
|Miles of Smiles||
|The Best of Wet Willie (20th Century Masters: Millennium Collection)||
|Epic Willie (The Epic Recordings)||
|"—" denotes releases that did not chart|
|Year||Single||US Hot 100|
|1971||"Rock & Roll Band"||—|
|1974||"Keep On Smilin'"||10|
|"Country Side of Life"||66|
|1976||"Ring You Up"||—|
|"Everything That 'cha Do"||66|
|1977||"Street Corner Serenade"||30|
|1978||"Make You Feel Love Again"||45|
- "The Official Wet Willie Page". Retrieved 2007-09-10.
- Eder, Bruce. "Wet Willie - Biography". AllMusic.com. Retrieved 2007-03-26.
- Christgau, Robert (1981). "Consumer Guide '70s: W". Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies. Ticknor & Fields. ISBN 089919026X. Retrieved March 22, 2019 – via robertchristgau.com.
- "Wet Willie - Discography". AllMusic.com. Retrieved 2007-03-26.