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Big Joe Williams

Big Joe Williams may have been the most cantankerous human being who ever walked the earth with guitar in hand. At the same time, he was an incredible blues musician: a gifted songwriter, a powerhouse vocalist, and an exceptionally idiosyncratic guitarist. Despite his deserved reputation as a fighter (documented in Michael Bloomfield's bizarre booklet Me and Big Joe), artists who knew him well treated him as a respected elder statesman. Even so, they may not have chosen to play with him, because -- as with other older Delta artists -- if you played with him you played by his rules.

As protégé David "Honeyboy" Edwards described him, Williams in his early Delta days was a walking musician who played work camps, jukes, store porches, streets, and alleys from New Orleans to Chicago. He recorded through five decades for Vocalion, OKeh, Paramount, Bluebird, Prestige, Delmark, and many others. According to Charlie Musselwhite, he and Big Joe kicked off the blues revival in Chicago in the '60s.

When appearing at Mike Bloomfield's "blues night" at The Fickle Pickle, Williams played an electric nine-string guitar through a small ramshackle amp with a pie plate nailed to it and a beer can dangling against that. When he played, everything rattled but Big Joe himself. The total effect of this incredible apparatus produced the most buzzing, sizzling, African-sounding music one would likely ever hear.

Anyone who wants to learn Delta blues must one day come to grips with the idea that the guitar is a drum as well as a melody-producing instrument. A continuous, African-derived musical tradition emphasizing percussive techniques on stringed instruments from the banjo to the guitar can be heard in the music of Delta stalwarts Charley Patton, Fred McDowell, and Bukka White. Each employed decidedly percussive techniques, beating on his box, knocking on the neck, snapping the strings, or adding buzzing or sizzling effects to augment the instrument's percussive potential. However, Big Joe Williams, more than any other major recording artist, embodied the concept of guitar-as-drum, bashing out an incredible series of riffs on his G-tuned nine-string for over 60 years. ~ Barry Lee Pearson
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: The Very Best Of Big Joe Williams (Live)

1. Sugar Mama (Live)

2. Baby Please Don't Go (Live)

3. Nobody Knows You When You're Down And Out (Live)

4. Put On Your Nightcap Baby (Live)

5. Ride In My New Car Blues (Live)

6. Sinking Blues (Live)

7. Sloppy Drunk Blues (Live)

8. 44" Blues (Live)

9. Bye Bye Baby Blues (Live)

10. Goin' Away, Won't Be Back Til Fall (Live)

11. Terraplane Blues (Live)

x

Track List: Old Saw Mill Blues: From The Archives

1. So Soon I'll Be Goin' My Way Back Home

2. Shake 'Em On Down

3. Saturday Night Jump

4. Jinx Blues

5. Pick A Pickle

6. Ramblin' And Wanderin' Blues

7. Old Saw Mill Blues

8. Don't The Apples Look Mellow

9. El Paso Blues

10. Back Home Blues

11. Don't You Leave Me Here

12. Shaggy Hound Blues

x

Track List: Live In Chicago

1. 44 Blues

2. Baby Please Don't Go

3. Bye Bye Baby Blues

4. Don't Want No Big Fat Woman

5. Goin' Away, Wont Be Back Till Fall

6. Nobody Wants You When You're Down And Out

7. Put On Your Nightcap Baby

8. Ride In My New Car Blues

9. Sinkin' Blues

10. Sloppy Drunk Blues

11. Sugar Mama

12. Terraplane Blues

x

Track List: Blues Bash (Digitally Remastered)

1. Chain Gang Blues

2. Buked and Scorned

3. Razor Sharp Blues

4. Stool Pigeon Blues

5. Brand New Car

6. Blues For Gamblers

7. Ball of Twine

8. Great Gospel Blues (Right On That Shore)

x

Track List: The Sonet Blues Story

1. I Been Wrong But I'll Be Right

2. Black Gal You're Sure Looking Warm

3. When I First Left Home

4. Little Annie Mae

5. Levee Break Blues

6. Hang It Up On The Wall

7. Lone Wolf

8. This Heavy Stuff Of Mine

9. Tell My Mother

10. Big Fat Mama

11. Back On My Feet

12. Jefferson An Franklin Blues

13. Mary Lou

14. They Stopped Me At The Border

15. Canary Bird

16. Do The Mess Around

17. On My Way Back

x

Track List: Highway 49 Revisites

1. Baby Please Don't Go

2. Highway 49

3. Shaggy Hound Blues

4. Ramblin' And Wanderin' Blues

5. Don't The Apples Look Mellow

6. Mean Mistreater

7. Prison Bound

8. Stack O' Dollars

9. I've Been Burned & I've Been Scorned

10. I Feel So Worried

11. Ain't Nothin' Like Whisky

12. Brand New Car

13. So Soon I'll Be Goin' My Way Back Home

14. Shake 'Em On Down

15. Jump Baby Jump

16. Everybody's Gonna Miss Me When I'm Gone

x

Track List: Absolutely The Best

1. Cottage Grove

2. Meet Me In The Bottom

3. Bessemer Baby

4. Baby Please Don't Go - Track 1

5. Baby Please Don't Go - Track 2

6. Shake Your Boogie

7. Jump Baby Boogie

8. Mean Mistreater

9. Prison Bound

10. Chain Gang Blues

11. Razor Sharp Blues

12. I Feel So Worried

13. So Soon I'll Be Goin' My Way Back Home

14. Shake 'Em On Down

15. Don't You Leave Me Here

16. Fickle Pickle

17. Ramblin' And Wanderin' Blues

18. Don't The Apples Look Mellow

19. El Paso Blues

20. Shaggy Hound Blues

x

Track List: And Friends, Going Back To Crawford

1. Back Home Blues

2. Baby Please Don't Go

3. Saturday Night Women

4. Been In Crawford Too Long

5. Sugar Diabetes Blues

6. Run Here Jailer With The Key

7. Take Me Out Of The Bottom

8. Bird Nest

9. Corrina

10. I Walked All Night Long

11. Sugar On The Bottom

12. Bad Luck

13. Checkin' Out

14. My Last Girl - Don't Treat Her Wrong!

15. Can't Listen No More

16. Don't Stay Long

17. I'm Wild About My Jelly Roll

18. Moanin' 'Fo Day

19. I'm Leavin' This Town

20. I Don't Know Why

21. My Baby Stopped Drinking Water

22. Good Times Here, Better Down The Road

23. Shake It Enough For Me

24. Mary Frances

25. My Baby Don't Stand No Foolin'

26. She Have Broken My Heart

x

Track List: Baby Please Don't Go

Disc 1

1. Don't The Apples Look Mellow (2009)

2. El Paso Blues

3. Sugar Mama

4. Nobody Knows You When You Down And Out

5. Don't Want No Big Fat Woman

6. Ride In My New

7. Goin' Away Won't Be Back Till Fall

8. Sloppy Drink Blues

9. 44 Blues

10. Terraplane Blues

11. Chain Gang Blues (2009)

12. Everybody's Blues

Disc 2

1. Put On Your Night Cap

2. Bye Bye Baby Blues

3. So Soon I'll Be Goin' Away

4. Shake 'Em On Down (2009)

5. Saturday Night Jump

6. Jiny Blues

7. Pick A Pickle

8. Rambling And Wandering

9. Old Saw Mill Blues

10. Sinking Blues

11. Razor Sharp Blues

12. Great Gospel Blues

x

Track List: These Are My Blues

1. Baby, Please Don't Go

2. A Man Amongst Men

3. Sun Never Go Down

4. Mellow Peaches

5. 56 Plymouth

6. Good Morning, Little Schoolgirl

7. These Are My Blues (Gonna Sing 'Em For Myself)

8. Put On Your Nightcap

9. Highway 49

10. Bottle Up And Go

11. Lowdown Dirty Shame

12. Sloppy Drunk

13. Vitamin A Blues

14. You Are My Sunshine

15. Boogie Chillun

16. Don't Want No Arkansas Woman

17. Rock Me, Mama

x

Track List: Mississippi's Big Joe Williams And His Nine-String Guitar

1. Whistling Pines

2. Bluebird Blues

3. She'll Be Coming 'round The Mountain

4. Elevate Me Baby

5. Momma Don't Allow Me To Fool Around All Night Long

6. Kings Highway Blues

7. Somebody's Been Fooling #1

8. T.B. Blues

9. King Biscuit Stomp

10. Delta Blues

11. Somebody's Been Fooling #3

12. Rooting Ground Hog

13. Don't Leave Me

x

Track List: Back To The Country

1. Ain't Gonna Be Your Lowdown Dog

2. Annie Mae

3. You Can Stay Out

4. Mean Backstabber

5. Worry You Off My Mind

6. Miss Ida B

7. Put On Your Nightcap

8. Woody Woodpecker

9. I Got My Ticket

10. Saturday Night Ball

11. Shake Your Boogie

12. See See Rider

13. Blues Everywhere I Go

14. Worried And Lonesome

15. My Black Woman

16. The Moon Is Rising

17. Down The Line

18. My Baby Left Me A Mule To Ride

19. Desert Blues

20. Breakdown

21. Goin' Back Home

x

Track List: Blues Masters: Vol. 2

1. So Soon I'll Be Goin' My Way Back Home

2. Shake 'Em On Down

3. Saturday Night Jump

4. Jinx Blues

5. Pick A Pickle

6. Ramblin' And Wanderin' Blues

7. Old Saw Mill Blues

8. Don't The Apples Look Mellow

9. El Paso Blues

10. Back Home Blues

11. Don't You Leave Me Here (1991)

12. Shaggy Hound Blues

13. Wild Ox Moan

14. Juanita Blues

15. Vitamin "A" Blues

x

Track List: Vol. 2 1945 - 1949

1. Drop Down Blues (Feat. Sonny Boy Williamson)

2. Somebody's Been Worryin' (Feat. Sonny Boy Williamson)

3. Wanita (Feat. Sonny Boy Williamson)

4. Vitamin A (Feat. Sonny Boy Williamson)

5. His Spirit Lives On (Feat. Sonny Boy Williamson)

6. Baby Please Don't Go (Feat. Sonny Boy Williamson)

7. Stack Of Dollars (Feat. Sonny Boy Williamson)

8. Mellow Apples (Feat. Sonny Boy Williamson)

9. Wild Cow Moan (Feat. Sonny Boy Williamson)

10. P Vine Blues (Feat. Sonny Boy Williamson)

11. Bad And Weakhearted Blues (Feat. Sonny Boy Williamson)

12. King Biscuit Stomp (Feat. Sonny Boy Williamson)

13. I'm A Highway Man (Feat. Sonny Boy Williamson)

14. Banta Rooster Blues (Feat. Sonny Boy Williamson)

15. Mean Step Father Blues (Feat. Sonny Boy Williamson)

16. House Lady Blues (Feat. Sonny Boy Williamson)

17. Don't You Leave Me Here (Feat. Sonny Boy Williamson)

18. Jivin' Woman

19. She's A Married Woman

20. Walking Blues (Feat. Chasey Collins) (1935)

21. Atlanta Town (Feat. Chasey Collins) (1935)

x

Track List: Volume 1 (1935-1941): Break Em On Down

1. Little Leg Woman

2. Somebody's Been Borrowing That Stuff

3. Providence Help The Poor People

4. 49 Highway Blues

5. My Grey Pony

6. Stepfather Blues

7. Baby Please Don't Go

8. Stack O' Dollars

9. Wild Cow Blues

10. Worried Man Blues

11. I Know You Gonna Miss Me

12. Rootin' Ground Hog

13. Brother James

14. I Won't Be In Hard Luck No More

15. Crawlin' King Snake

16. I'm Getting Wild About Her

17. Peach Orchard Mama

18. Meet Me Around The Corner

19. Throw A Boogie Woogie

20. North Wind Blues

21. Baby Please Don't Go

22. Highway 49

23. Someday Baby

24. Break 'Em On Down

x

Track List: Nine String Guitar Blues

1. I Got The Best King Biscuit

2. Haunted House Blues

3. I Done Stop Hollering

4. I Got A Bad Mind

5. Long Tall Woman, Skinny Mama Too

6. Stack Of Dollars

7. Indiana Woman Blues

8. My Baby Keeps Hanging Around

9. Jiving The Blues

10. Jump, Baby - Jump!

x

Track List: Shake Your Boogie

1. Sloppy Drunk Blues

2. Yo Yo Blues

3. President Roosevelt

4. Forty Four Blues

5. Greystone Blues

6. I Want My Crown

7. Mean Step Father

8. Brother James (1960)

9. Shake Your Boogie

10. Vitamin A Blues

11. She Left Me A Mule To Ride (1960)

12. So Glad

13. Louisiana Bound

14. Killing Floor Blues

15. Throw The Boogie Woogie (1969)

16. Dirt Road Blues

17. Montreal Blues

18. Take Me Out Of The Bottom

19. Thinking Of What They Did To Me

20. The Death Of Dr. Martin Luther King

21. Army Man In Vietnam

22. Creole Queen

23. Remember Way Back

24. King Jesus

x

Track List: Hell Bound And Heaven Sent Blues

1. Night Cap Blues

2. My Jack Don't Drink Water No More

3. Flour Dough Blues

4. Hell Bound Blues

5. Big Legged Women, Keep Your Dresses Down

6. Short Stuff's Corrina

7. Don't You Leave Me Here

8. You Rascal You

9. Messing With That Thing

10. Bumble Bee

11. If You Can't Fly

12. Rock Road Bad Treatin'

x

Track List: Classic Delta Blues

1. Rollin' And Tumblin'

2. Hellbound On My Trial

3. Bird's Nest Bound

4. Crossroads Blues

5. Special Rider

6. Pony Blues

7. Pea Vine Special

8. Walkin' Blues

9. Dirt Road Blues

10. Banty Rooster Blues

11. Terraplane Blues

12. Jinx Blues

x

Track List: At Folk City

1. Mink Coat Blues (Live)

2. Burned Child Is Scared Of Fire (Live)

3. Baby, I Ain't Gonna Let You Go (Live)

4. Trouble Gonna Take Me To My Grave (Live)

5. Bugle Blues (Live)

6. Just Want To Be Your Man (Live)

7. I'm Gonna Do It This Time (Live)

8. She's Doggin' Me (Live)

9. How Do You Want Your Rollin' Done (Live)

10. I Can't Sign My Name (Live)

11. Bottle Up And Go (Live)

12. I'm Tired, Woman (Live)

x

Track List: Blues On Highway 49

1. Highway 49 (2004)

2. Overhaul Your Machine

3. Blues Left Texas

4. No. 13 Highway

5. Down In The Bottoms

6. Poor Beggar

7. That Thing's In Town

8. Walk On, Little Girl

9. Tiajuana Blues

10. 45 Blues

11. Arkansas Woman

12. Four Corners Of The World

x

Track List: Walking Blues

1. Levee Camp Blues

2. Low Down Dirty Shame

3. Gambling Man

4. Ain't Gonna Rain No More

5. Feel So Good

6. Prowling Ground Hog

7. Back Home Again

8. Sugar Babe

9. Tell Me Mama

10. Studio Blues

11. I'm A Fool About My Baby

12. 38 Pistol Blues

13. Pearly Mae

14. Walking Blues

15. Highway 45

16. Meet Me At The Bottom

17. Skinny Mama

18. Jockey Ride Blues

19. Coal And Iceman Blues

20. Army Man Blues

21. Black Gal

22. Pallet On The Floor

Comments

Report as inappropriate
Only casual mention here to his nine string. His guitar had an extra three strings attached. I had the privilege of bartending a little club called the Yellow Unicorn on north State Street in Chicago back in the sixties and Big Joe played our club a few times. He worked for ten dollars a night and all the whiskey he could drink. That was usually a whole bottle. I never thought of Joe as belligerent or commanding in any way. He was a fun guy to be around and I looked up to him. It was His music.
Report as inappropriate
Don't read this. You will be kissed by the move of your life on the nearest Friday. Tomorrow will be the best day of your life. Now that you've started reading this don't stop or you will have bad luck. Post this on 15 songs in the next 143 minutes. Press the space bar and your crushes name will appear
Report as inappropriate
Be careful of that black gal
Report as inappropriate
don know why not even more recognized (?)
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Gotta agree with you barn. Life would not be the same without the blues
Report as inappropriate
my life revolves with the blues, can't live without it everyday.
Report as inappropriate
Good stuff. Too bad the major selling artists of today are all talentless hacks and poseurs.
Report as inappropriate
There's something so soothing about his music. God, I love the blues. So much.
Report as inappropriate
As authentic as it comes. Pretty good sound quality, considering the time.
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curleytopps1
i love they blues
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Go Big Joe!!!!
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folger369
This is REAL music!
Report as inappropriate
tafari_sudra
one sweeet thang about da south....blu e s ;
Report as inappropriate
i wonder if slapping bass stemmed from this "guitar as a drum" style goal.

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