Willie Nix

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Willie Nix
Also known as The Memphis Blues Boy[1]
Born (1922-08-06)August 6, 1922
Memphis, Tennessee, United States
Died July 8, 1991(1991-07-08) (aged 68)
Leland, Mississippi, United States
Genres Memphis blues, Chicago blues, electric blues[2]
Occupation(s) Singer, guitarist, drummer
Years active 1940s–1970s

Willie Nix (August 6, 1922 – July 8, 1991)[2] was an American Chicago blues singer and drummer, active in Memphis, Tennessee, United States, in the 1940s and 1950s.[3]

Life and career[edit]

Born in Memphis,[2] as a child he learned to tap dance, later working as a teenager as part dancer, part comedian, with the Rabbit Foot Minstrels. This led to work in various variety shows in the 1940s, and Nix later became a part of the blues scene that grew up around Beale Street (see Memphis Blues).[2] His musical work saw him appear on local radio with Robert Lockwood Jr., and work alongside Willie Love, Joe Willie Wilkins and Sonny Boy Williamson II, billed as the Four Aces, who toured the Deep South. Further Memphis based radio work in the mid-1940s, saw Nix appear with both B.B. King and Joe Hill Louis, and later the same decade Nix worked with the Beale Streeters. In 1951, Nix made his first recording for RPM Records in Memphis, and a year later he later recorded for Checker Records.[2]

He recorded for the Sun Records label and others in the 1950s, including the Chicago, Illinois based duo of Chance[4] and Sabre. Nix wrote the songs "Nervous Wreck" and "Try Me One More Time", and reworked others such as Catfish Blues and Curtis Jones' Lonesome Bedroom Blues. He variously worked with Big Walter Horton, Elmore James, Johnny Shines, and Memphis Slim during his active years.[1][2] In the late 1950s Nix was briefly a member of Willie Cobbs' band.[5]

By the end of the 1950s, Nix returned to Memphis, and spent a short time in prison before the 1960s started. The next twenty years saw Nix perform sporadically, and as his health declined, his behaviour became more eccentric. He did not record again, although his mid-1950s work is held in high regard for his lyrical dexterity and compelling beat.[2]

Nix died in Leland, Mississippi, in 1991.[2]


  1. ^ a b Doc Rock. "The Dead Rock Stars Club 1990 - 1991". Thedeadrockstarsclub.com. Retrieved 2015-10-05. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Bruce Eder. "Willie Nix". Allmusic. Retrieved November 10, 2011. 
  3. ^ Du Noyer, Paul (2003). The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Music (1st ed.). Fulham, London: Flame Tree Publishing. p. 181. ISBN 1-904041-96-5. 
  4. ^ Rowe, Mike (1981). Chicago Blues: The City and the Music. New York: Da Capo, p. 106. ISBN 978-0-306-80145-7
  5. ^ Olsson, Bengt (1970): Memphis Blues. London: Studio Vista Limited, p. 88, ISBN 9780289700334.