Willie D. Warren

Willie D. Warren (September 11, 1924 – December 30, 2000)

Willie D. Warren was an American electric blues guitarist, bass player and singer. In a long career, he worked with Otis Rush, Al Benson, Little Sonny Cooper, David “Honeyboy” EdwardsBaby Boy Warren, Guitar Slim, Freddie King, Jimmy Reed, Morris Pejoe, Bobo Jenkins and Jim McCarty. One of Warren’s better known recordings was “Baby Likes to Boogie”.

He was described by Allmusic journalist, Michael G. Nastos, as “one of the Midwest’s true blues treasures”.

Biography

Warren was born in Stamps, Arkansas, but moved with his family at the age of thirteen to Lake Village, Arkansas. He was taught by Caleb King to play the guitar, and played in his own blues ensemble around the Mississippi Delta. His band’s singer, Guitar Slim was, in turn, taught guitar playing techniques by Warren, and they toured around Louisiana in the latter half of the 1940s.

Warren relocated to Chicago by the early 1950s and joined Otis Rush‘s band. He later played alongside Freddie King and Jimmy Reed, plus he also backed Morris Pejoe, when Pejoe recorded tracks for Chess Records.

Warren formed the House Rockers back in Arkansas in 1959, and by the early 1970s had moved to Detroit to work and record with Bobo Jenkins. From 1974 to 1976 he was also a featured performer, along with Baby Boy Warren (no relation), with the Progressive Blues Band, a popular blues band that played in many of Detroit’s best blues venues. When Baby Boy died in 1977, Wille D. Warren took up the band’s frontman duties.

In 1977, Warren finally recorded his debut solo album, which was released on Jenkins’ Big Star label. In addition, Warren turned songwriter, penning the lyrics to two songs (“Door Lock Blues” and “Detroit Jump”) that Jenkins himself recorded for his own Detroit All Purpose Blues album. Warren’s own work then appeared on a small number of compilation albums. His live album, Live, for the No Cover Productions label, was not released until after Warren’s death. His then backing band, Mystery Train, included his old friend Jim McCarty.

Warren died in Detroit, in December 2000, at the age of 76. He left one son, Willie Hairston, of Detroit, Michigan.

Partial discography

Albums

  • Live (2005) – Willie D. Warren & Mystery Train – No Cover Productions

Compilation albums

  • Hastings Street Grease Vol. 1 (1998) – Blue Suit Records
  • Hastings Street Grease Vol. 2 (1999) – Blue Suit Records
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