Soul singer Bill Coday first came to fame with the hit single "Get Your Lies Straight" during the early spring of 1971. Signed to Crajon Productions, owned by the husband and wife team of Bill and Denise Jones (who recorded under the name Denise LaSalle and scored a 1971 gold single, "Trapped by a Thing Called Love"), Coday was the perfect vehicle for LaSalle's blues-oriented R&B songs.
Born May 10, 1942, in Coldwater, MS, Coday began his singing career as a teenager, performing in juke joints around Blytheville, AK, with a band that included Son Seals. In 1961, he relocated to Chicago, IL, donning the name Chicago Willie. LaSalle spotted the singer while he was performing at the Black Orchid club. She teamed him with Memphis, TN, soul music producer Willie Mitchell whom she often worked with on her releases for Detroit, MI's Westbound label and for those of other Crajon artists (the Sequins' hits "Hey Romeo" and "The Third Degree"). (Mitchell went on to have hits with another Chicago singer, Syl Johnson, and gold and platinum-laced success with Al Green on Hi Records.)
Coday's first Crajon singles, "Sixty Minute Teaser" and "I Get High on Your Love," were regional hits. The third single, "Get Your Lies Straight," proved to be the breakthrough, going to number 14 R&B on Billboard's charts in early 1971. On the flipside was "You're Gonna Want Me." As was the custom on a fast-selling national record, the independently-distributed Crajon leased Coday's single to the much larger Galaxy label, a subsidiary of Berkeley, CA's Fantasy Records, for wider distribution. The follow-up, issued on Galaxy, the Denise LaSalle song "When You Find a Fool, Bump His Head," made it to number 48 R&B in summer 1971. There were other Galaxy singles, but none charted nationally. Coday enjoyed a regional hit on Crajon with "I'm Back to Collect" in the first half of 1973. (Some of his Galaxy/Crajon releases can be found on the compilations All Night Long They Played the Blues (1992), Bad Bad Whiskey (1993) -- both from U.K. label Ace Records -- and an '80s collection of Coday's Crajon singles on Japanese label Vivid Sounds.)
In 1973, he signed with Epic Records and the single "I Don't Want to Play This Game" was issued. In 1984, Coday began to tour with Denise LaSalle as her opening act. He began recording again after several years away from the studio. Signing with Memphis-based label Ecko Records, his first release was the appropriately titled Sneakin' Back album. The tracks "Her Love Is Good Enough to Put in Collard Greens," "I Can Move the Hoochie Coochie Man," "Doctor Thrill Good," and a remake of "Get Your Lies Straight" became favorites with blues lovers and blues-formatted radio stations. His second Ecko CD, Can't Get Enough, included "In the Room Next to the Room" and "Not a Word" with labelmate Barbara Carr. Coday's third Ecko CD, 1999's Put Me in the Mood, gave his fans more of his tasty blend of spicy, bluesy Southern soul. ~ Ed Hogan