I was born on the south side of Chicago, during the time my people were moving from down south, seeking a new way of life and better paying jobs in factories and the steel mills of Chicago and Indiana, and the automobile factories of Detroit. I grew up listening to all of the early jazz and blues greats like Gene Ammons, Max Roach, Jimmy Smith, Koko Taylor, Willie Dixon, and Pinetop Perkins, just to name a few. Since my dad was a part time disc jockey, he owned many albums. Playing along with these albums is how I gained most of my experience. My mother on the other hand, listened to all of the soulful singers of the time, like Sam Cooke, Etta James, Jerry Butler, and groups like the Drifters, The Impressions, and the Artistics, so my exposure to music was very well rounded.
Since my dad was a drummer, I wanted to play drums too, and my first set of drums were purchased from a Sears catalog in the late ‘50’s. I was only eight years old at the time, but all could see I was born to play drums and literally drove mom and dad crazy constantly beating on things around the house.
My dad took me to many clubs on the south side of Chicago and to “Maxwell Street” and the Tiger Lounge exposing me to all of the jazz and blues greats of the time. As a teenager my talents were recognized which allowed me to perform with the likes of Magic (Chicago) Slim, Lester “Big Daddy” Kinsey, and Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown. Further, I used to sit on a curb outside Ramsey Lewis’ Club listening to his band and one day he invited me to sit in with him during a session, which was one of the greatest moments of my life.
I performed at the well known “Tivoli Theater,” where talent contests were held weekly and this is where I met and played with many of the “unknowns,” who later became internationally known talents.
Playing the blues is where my heart is and later on in life I’ve performed with true masters like B.B. King, Snookey Prior, Vernon Garrett, “Little Hatch” Provine, and many, many others.
I’m truly blessed to have had the opportunity performing with great musicians and in sharing my God given talent with all. My band, “Big Woody,” has some of the greatest talents I’m privileged to work with, and to have been influenced by so many I only hope and pray I can continue playing for many years to come.
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