LITTLE WILLIE JOHN IN 1955 (Photo by Wikipedia)
Born in Arkansas, one of ten children, William Edward John was four years old when he moved to Detroit so his father could pursue factory work. That was in 1941. He signed a recording contract with King Records in 1955. He was nicknamed "Little Willie" John for his short stature.
Little Willie John made the Billboard Hot 100 a total of fourteen times. A cover version of "Need Your Love So Bad" by Fleetwood Mac was also a hit in Europe. Another of his songs to be covered was “Leave My Kitten Alone (1959).LEAVE MY KITTEN ALONE The Beatles recorded a version in 1964, intended for their Beatles For Sale album, but it went unreleased until 1995.
Known for his short temper and propensity to abuse alcohol, Little Willie John was dropped by King Records in 1963.
He was convicted of manslaughter and sent to Washington State Penitentiary for a fatal knifing incident following a show in Seattle. Little Willie John died in 1968 at Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla, Washington.. Despite counter claims, the official cause of death was listed in his death certificate as a heart attack.
Little Willie John was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996.
The following is an example of a “GOOD DAY” in Little Willie John’s talented, yet ill-fated life:
AUGUST 19, 1956 – Little Willie John hits #5 on the R&B chart with “Need Your Love So Bad”
AUGUST 19, 1956 – Little Willie John hits #6 on the R&B chart with “Home At Last”
AUGUST 19, 1956 – Little Willie John hits #1 on the R&B chart #24 on the pop chart with (8/18) “Fever”
AUGUST 19, 1956 – Little Willie John hits #10 on the R&B chart with "Letter From My Darling"