WET WILLIE Hittin' The Note Allman Brothers Night-Off Party at Times Square
Type: Music & Concerts
Wet Willie, after The Allman Brothers Band and Lynyrd Skynyrd, was the hardest-rocking of the Southern bands to come to national attention in the early '70s. For seven years, from 1971 until 1978, they produced an enviable array of albums awash in good-time music, rollicking high-energy blues-rock, and white Southern soul. The band had a Top Ten hit with "Keep On Smilin'" and several other chart toppers, including "Weekend," "Airport" and "Dixie Rock," and a lot of admirers. In contrast to The Allman Brothers Band, Wet Willie was a band closer in spirit to Booker T. & the MG's, much more steeped in sweaty, good-time R&B than the blues-rock of the label-mates The Allman Brothers Band or the country-rock of the Marshall Tucker Band.
Wet Willie, originally called Fox, was formed in Mobile, AL, in 1969, behind the powerful vocals and distinctive sax of Jimmy Hall, with Jimmy's brother Jack on bass and banjo, Ricky Hirsch on lead and slide guitars and mandolin (as well as writing a lot of the songs), Lewis Ross on drums, and John Anthony playing the keyboards. Mike Dukes also had a tenure with Wet Willie on Key Boards in the 70s. The band counted the Rolling Stones and the Animals among their influences, but their sound was closer in spirit to early Otis Redding or Little Richard, which made the move to Macon, GA, in early 1970 a natural one, the town being Richard Penniman's onetime home, as well as the headquarters of Capricorn Records, the company run by Redding's onetime manager, Phil Walden. Wet Willie auditioned for Capricorn that summer and were at work on their debut album by the fall of that same year.