Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Blues Guitar Mastery of Jody Williams: The 1950's

Bo Diddley's classic 1956 recording "Who Do You Love" recently received a Grammy Hall of Fame Award for being a recording of transcendental historical significance. While Bo is more than deserving of the award and the recognition, I can't help but conclude that the song's resonance is owed in large measure to the phenomenal blues guitar work of Jody Williams. A quick scan the number of groups that have covered Bo's gem reveal guitar players like Jeff Beck, Rory Gallagher, Jimmy Vaughn, John Cipollina and Danny Kalb, all formidable blues players who were undoubtedly drawn to the unique guitar work by Jody Williams in the song. Below are a few recordings from the 1950's that feature the guitar work of Jody Williams, who served as a Chess/Checker session artists throughout the decade.

1) Bo Diddley "Who Do You Love" 1956: Unique guitar comping begins the song and the Williams solo at 1:20 reveals a prowess that perfectly compliments Bo's incredible vocals.

2) Billy Boy Arnold - "I Ain't Got You" 1956 Great guitar work that probably led to the 1965 Yardbirds cover with an inspired Clapton solo.

3) Howlin Wolf "Evil is Going On" 1954 - Williams handles the lead work on this early Wolf recording while Hubert Sumlin cover the rhythm work. In the above photo are, from left, Howlin Wolf, Jody and Hubert Sumlin.

4) Billy Stewart "Billy's Blues" 1956 - This wonderfully unique and influential arrangement for Chess Records showcases the mastery of Williams. The architecture of the guitar work here reappears in later arrangements by Mickey and Sylvia's "Love is Strange." and is said to have influenced Buddy Holly's 1956 recording "Words of Love." Judge for yourself.

5) Jimmy Rogers "I Can't Believe" 1956 - Excellent work here by Williams in a straight forward up tempo blues by Jimmy Rogers. It's Big Walter (not Little Walter) on this recording.

6) Jody Williams "Looking For My Baby" 1955 - Classic recording by Jody. Here the original is far superior.


  1. Bill - The Doors also covered "Who Do You Love" on their live fact, they open the show with it. Robbie Krieger is a good player but he can't hold a candle to Jody Williams' version.

  2. The www brought me here when searching for information about that Memphis meteor Dewey Phillips. The Ronnie Hawkins version of "Who do" with Robbie Robertson is also a monster. Great blog. Cheers.