Today I wanted to introduce you to the singer Little Willie John and the songwriter Otis Blackwell. I am embarrassed to say, I knew very little about Little Willie John until I started researching this post. You can find his whole musical history on the Internet so I won’t cover all the details. You can also find a video of Stevie Wonder inducting him into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996. The Beatles recorded his “Leave my Kitten Alone” but it didn’t get released until much later. As a summary, he grew up in Detroit and signed with King Records in 1955.
He recorded the song “Need Your Love So Bad”. You can find versions by Peter Green with Fleetwood Mac, Joe Cocker, Adele and also Buddy Guy among others. I’m posting it here because it is just sounds so good.
Need Your Love So Bad – Little Willie John
Little Willie John also recorded the song “Fever”. EVO just started covering it. I always knew it as a Peggy Lee song. I’ve played the song over the years because it’s a favorite of quite a few women singers and its two chords and familiarity make it easily jammable. Peggy Lee apparently wrote the more romantic verses about Captain Smith and Pocahontas and Romeo and Juliet. She also made it a huge hit in 1958 and her lyrics became the standard. Little Willie John’s version was released two years earlier. I stumbled it upon his version several months ago and was knocked out by the blusier version of his recording.
Fever Little Willie John
The great songwriter Otis Blackwell wrote Fever with Eddie Cooley. Blackwell wrote the song under the pseudonym John Davenport. Blackwell wrote other great Rock and Roll classics which I will post here. They include, “Great Balls of Fire” and “Breathless” for Jerry Lee Lewis’, Elvis Presley’s “Don’t Be Cruel“, “Return to Sender“, “All Shook Up” (which EVO also covers), and Jimmy Jones’ “Handy Man“. There is a great version of “Handy Man’ by James Taylor.