During the 30s and 40s, Willie played his piano around the Delta juke-joints and the clubs of Memphis and Helena, before starting on a short-lived solo career in the early 50s. He had learned to play as a youth in Duncan MS, and drifted around the region, picking up work wherever he could. He met harp maestro Rice ‘Sonny Boy II’ Miller on his travels, and they struck up a solid working partnership so in 1942, Willie relocated to Helena AK, where he played regularly on Sonny Boy’s King Biscuit Time radio show. The pair would play the juke-joints with guitarist Willie Joe Wilkins and drummer Willie Nix, billed as The Four Aces. In 1951, Willie recorded many times with Sonny Boy II and Elmore James at their recording sessions for Trumpet Records in Jackson MS, and also cut some solo tracks there, including his best known song ‘Everybody’s Fishing’. Willie had a fine, clear voice and recorded several times as a solo artist for Trumpet, but his records weren’t widely distributed. Playing the local juke-joints, Willie was often backed by teenage guitarists like Charley Booker, Little Milton, and Pinetop Perkins before his ‘accident’ caused him to switch to piano, and sometimes with TJ Green on fiddle. On the road in the 50s, Willie was more usually in the company of Willie Joe Wilkins and Willie Nix, billed as The Three Aces. When he caught pneumonia in 1953, Willie’s booze-soaked body had little resistance, and he died at the relatively young age of 46.
A couple of Willie’s songs from 1951;