Smokestack Lightnin' Home Page -- The Blues Profile Page
Little Willie Littlefield (born September 16, 1931, El Campo, Texas) is an American R&B pianist and singer.
By 1947, at the age of sixteen, Littlefield was already a local attraction on many of Houston's Dowling Street Clubs and was recording for local record shop proprietor Eddie Henry who ran his own label "Eddies".
Influenced by Albert Ammons, Charles Brown, and Amos Milburn his first recording, "Little Willie’s Boogie" was a hit in Texas in 1949, and brought him to the attention of Jules Bihari, one of the Bihari brothers of Modern Records in Los Angeles, California. There, he recorded "It's Midnight", which became a national hit reaching #3 on the Billboard R&B chart. He became a major nightclub attraction and recorded with West Coast musicians such as Maxwell Davis.
Don Wilkerson, Littlefield's old school buddy and the leading saxman in his band, also travelled to Los Angeles, but Milburn promptly stole him to lead his own new band 'The Aladdin Chickenshackers'.
Modern Records booked Littlefield for three recording sessions during October 1949, followed by more sessions in the following two months at Radio Recorders in Hollywood. During these three months alone, over 22 sides were cut - an unusual output when compared to most other artists who averaged only two sessions a year. Other musicians for these sessions included Maxwell Davis and Buddy Floyd, guitarists Chuck Norris and Johnny Moore, and drummers Al Wichard and Jessie Price.
In 1952 he moved to the Federal subsidiary of King Records, his first session producing "K. C. Lovin´" (written by Leiber and Stoller and later re-recorded by Wilbert Harrison as "Kansas City"). By 1957 Littlefield had moved to Northern California and continued to record for Don Barksdale's Rhythm label in San Francisco where he produced his last hit "Ruby, Ruby".
Littlefield’s recording and his subsequent releases were not successful, although he remained a popular club act in the San Francisco area.
In the late 1970s he toured Europe successfully, later settling in the Netherlands and releasing a number of albums for the Blues Connoisseur label. Littlefield built a considerable European reputation with his vigorous boogie-woogie piano playing and smoky singing.
He continues to perform occasionally, mainly at festivals. In 2008 he played at the 20th Burnley Blues Festival and in July 2009 at the 5th annual UK Boogie Woogie Festival at Sturminster Newton in Dorset. Having appeared at Shakedown Blues Club, at Castor Hall, near Castor, Peterborough in 2006, Littlefield is due for a return appearance on 9 October 2010