Willis Jackson (saxophonist)

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Willis "Gator" Jackson (April 25, 1928 – October 25, 1987)[1] was an American jazz tenor saxophonist.


Born in Miami, Florida,[1] and educated at the University of Miami, Jackson joined Cootie Williams's band in 1948 as a teenager, and was part of it on and off until 1955.[2]

Under his own name (Willis Jackson and His Orchestra) he recorded various rhythm-and-blues instrumentals for Atlantic Records. His most famous record for Atlantic is "Gator's Groove" (1952), with "Estrellita" as the B-side.

Jackson toured as leader of the backing band for singer Ruth Brown. Publicly they were married, but privately they never married but lived together from 1950 to 1955.[3] Jackson joined Prestige Records in 1959, making a string of albums.[2]

Jackson died in New York City one week after heart surgery, in October 1987, at the age of 55.[1]


As leader[edit]

As sideman[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Doc Rock. "The 1980s". The Dead Rock Stars Club. Retrieved 2017-05-07.
  2. ^ a b Yanow, Scott. "Willis "Gator" Jackson". AllMusic. Retrieved February 25, 2020.
  3. ^ Dik de Heer, This Is My Story series, "Shakin' All Over" web articles