Emery Williams Jr. is a living link to the great Chicago blues piano players of the 1940s and 1950s. Born on October 26, 1931, in Haynes, AR, Williams was given the name Detroit Junior when be began recording on his own in the 1960s. As a child, Williams was moved around quite a bit, as his family relocated from Arkansas to Memphis, then to Pularski, IL, and finally to Flint, MI, where Williams lived with his grandmother. It was there that he began playing keyboards, learning on his grandmother's organa (a parlor instrument that was part organ, part piano). Soon he was playing piano in the tough clubs and juke joints around Flint, eventually relocating to Chicago in the early '50s, where he began playing with the likes of Eddie Boyd, Jimmy Reed, and Eddie Taylor.
He recorded his first 45 (and earned the name Detroit Junior), "Money Tree" b/w "So Unhappy," in 1960, and also cut a single ("Too Poor" b/w "You Mean Everything to Me") for Chess Records. An album, Chicago Urban Blues, came out on the Blues on Blues label in the early '70s. In 1969 Williams began a long stint as Howlin' Wolf's piano player, a spot he held until Wolf's death in 1976. Alligator Records included a few of Williams' tracks on a Living Chicago Blues compilation in the early '80s. Turn Up the Heat appeared in 1995 on Blue Suit Records, followed by two more albums for the label, Take Out the Time (1997) and Live at the Toledo Museum of Art (2004). Another Detroit Junior album was also released in 2004, Blues on the Internet on Delmark Records. ~ Steve Leggett