15 Years of Friendly Co-Operation
WILLIE KENT, 1936 – 2006
Willie Kent CD´s on WOLF RECORDS:
CD 120.867 Willie Kent Live in Chicago at B.L.U.E.S.
CD 120.876 Willie Kent & His Gents
CD 120.889 Willie Kent & His Gents feat. Carlos Showers
WILLIE KENT, 1936 – 2006
I say thank you for what you have done for the people in Chicago, for your musician friends, for Wolf records and for me, Hannes Folterbauer.
I´m fist of all: A Blues fan. I came to Chicago in 1982 to record the blues legend Eddie Taylor in the Odyssey studio.
The band members were Tim Taylor on drums, Johnny B. Moore on guitar und Willie Kent on bass, – and they played the best Westside Blues I ever heard.
After Eddie had died, I started working with Willie. Of course, he told me to record Johnny B. Moore with his band – this was our first project!!! Willie promised that the recording session would be just two hours – and he told no lie – cause the musicians knew each other perfectly. We got second place at the W.C handy blues awards with this record.
This was the first LP by Johnny B., following with a sampler with then unknown Westside musicians like Barkin Bill, Mary Lane, Larry Taylor and Bonnie Lee!!
After that we recorded the first CD´s with Bonnie Lee, and Maxwell street Jimmy Davis. I asked Willie if he could help me to record such legends as Jimmy Rogers, John Brim, Hubert Sumlin and Pinetop Perkins. He agreed, so I had the chance to work together with these legends – the band at these sessions has often been the same: Tim Taylor, Willie Kent, Billy Branch on harp and the great guitar players John Primer and Johnny B. Moore!
So we created the “wolf-sound” with got famous for it´s ORIGINAL Chicago sound: part of culture of the US!!!
Willie also brought me together with Eddie Shaw and the Wolf-Gang, Billy Branch, Deitra Farr, Zora Young, Big Moose Walker and Lurrie Bell to name just a few!!
Last, but not least, I am proud to have recorded three CD´s with Willie himself and his Gents – the greatest project was to record him live at B.L.U.E.S. He was one of the last ones in Chicago with a deep ´down home voice´like Muddy or Wolf! I can also say that his band played the real Westside Blues which is a part of the US culture too! Willie never wanted any money for making the connection to the musicians for me! I think he was just happy that they got a chance to record – he just played at the sessions his legendary bass lines and helped me with the contracts.
Willie wanted to record a fourth CD for Wolf but we could not do it – of course after the valley bankruptcy we had financial problems too. So I´m happy that also Delmark produced a lot of Willie Kent CD´s, that his work is well preserved on CD´s!
I´m also proud, having toured one week with Willie and his Gents in Austria, where we also produced a great CD!
He was a nice person and if we had misunderstandings, we came together after a 5 minute discussion. I thank that my steady work with Willie also helped him to get jobs on the Northside, because when I met him in the early 80´s, he just played on the West side! In the last years I always tried to meet Willie when I came to Chicago to see him playing at Blue Chicago. We would go out for lunch. I have often sent his CD´s to him from Austria as a part of royalties, so he could sell them from the stage. I always trusted him and so he has done the same: trusting me. I think our friendship helped a lot of musicians to get a better reputation in Chicago and that they thought it made really good sense not to stop playing the Blues.
One last thing, all of you know that my English is really not good, but Willie and I never had problems with that – sometimes words are not the most important things! I thank Maurice that he said that to all of you. I will spend the money I would have paid for the plane ticket and hotel to Willie´s family – I think this will help a little bit!
Bus, as soon I come back to Chicago, I will visit his grave!
Good bye Willie.