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Willie Dixon


1915

Willie Dixon is born in Vicksburg, Mississippi.

1937

Willie Dixon wins the Illinois State Golden Gloves Heavyweight Championship (Novice Division).

1940

Willie Dixon makes his first recordings, for Bluebird Records, as part of the Chicago-based Five Breezes.

1941

Willie Dixon is jailed for refusing induction into the armed forces. Military personnel escort him from the stage of Chicago’s Pink Poodle club. “I told them I was a conscientious objector and wasn’t gonna fight for anybody,” said Dixon.

1946

Willie Dixon forms the Big Three Trio with pianist/singer Leonard “Baby Doo” Caston and guitarist Bernardo Dennis (replaced a year later by Ollie Crawford). They sing blues and standards and travel widely.

1948

“Ebony Rhapsody,” by Rosetta Howard, enters the R&B chart, where it will reach #8. Backing Howard is the Big Three Trio, featuring bassist/songwriter Willie Dixon.

1954

“Hoochie Coochie Man,” written by Willie Dixon and recorded by Muddy Waters – with Dixon playing bass – enters the R&B chart. It will reach #3, which will make it the highest-charting of Waters’ 14 Top Ten R&B hits.

1955

“My Babe,” by Chicago blues singer and harmonica player Little Walter, enters the R&B singles chart, which it will top for five weeks. The song was written by Willie Dixon, who also plays bass on the track.

1955

Willie Dixon cracks the R&B charts as a recording artist for the one and only time in his career with “Walking the Blues,” released on Chess Records’ sister label, Checker.

1959

Chicago blues legend Willie Dixon returns to Chess Records after a three-year hiatus, during which he produced an impressive roster of blues artists – including Buddy Guy, Otis Rush and Magic Sam – for crosstown rival Cobra Records.

1960

Howlin’ Wolf records “Spoonful” and “Back Door Man” - two classic blues songs, both written and produced by Willie Dixon – for Chess Records.

1962

Muddy Waters records Willie Dixon’s “You Shook Me,” a classic blues that will later be covered by Led Zeppelin on their self-titled debut album.

1966

Koko Taylor’s recording of “Wang Dang Doodle,” written and produced by Willie Dixon, enters the R&B chart, where it will peak at #4.

1977

As the result of a legal settlement, Willie Dixon is set to receive “increased publishing royalties and the gradual return of the copyrights on all of his songs,” according to biography Don Snowden.

1984

Willie Dixon founds the Blues Heaven Foundation, a nonprofit organization designed to promote the blues and to provide scholarships, royalty recovery advice, emergency assistance to blues musicians in need.

1989

Willie Dixon wins a Grammy Award for Best Traditional Blues Recording for his 1988 album ‘Hidden Charms.’

1990

Thanks to Willie Dixon’s Blues Heaven Foundation, the former Chess Records Office and Studio at 2120 S. Michigan Avenue in Chicago is officially recognized as a protected Chicago Landmark.

1992

Willie Dixon dies of heart failure in Burbank, CA.

1995

Willie Dixon is inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame at the ninth annual induction dinner. Chuck Berry is his presenter.

1997

Through the efforts of Marie Dixon – the late Willie Dixon’s wife – and others, the Blues Heaven Foundation moves into the restored Chess Records Studios at 2120 S. Michigan Avenue in Chicago, Illinois.

Willie Dixon