Born: September 16, 1931 Primary Instrument: Piano
Little Willie Littlefield began his career as a recording artist at the age of 16 for Eddie's Records in Houston. His first recording Little Willie's Boogie was a hit in Texas. In Houston Willie recorded 8 tracks for Eddie's Records and Freedom Records in 1948/1949.
While in Houston, word reached the Bihari brothers (owners of the Modern-label in Los Angeles) about a teenage wonderboy pianist who was currently breaking up at the Eldorado Ballroom. Before leaving Houston Jules Bihari had already inked a contract, recorded Littlefield's first side It's Midnight and arranged for Littlefield to come to the West Coast.
When Littlefield arrived in L.A.later that month It's Midnight was a big hit (peaked at 3) in the charts nationwide and he was booked in L.A.'s Melody Club and in Johnny Otis' famous Barrelhouse in Watts. He was an overnight sensation. “It's Midnight not only established him in the Rhythm and Blues field, but also left an impression on other upcoming stars such as Fats Domino who developed his triplet piano- style from the Littlefield recording.
Littlefield recorded about 30 tracks for Modern in 1949, 1950 and 1951 and scored some more hits such as Farewelland I've been lost. He recorded with L.A.'s leading Rhythm and Blues session musicians including saxplayers Maxwell Davis and Buddy Floyd, guitarists Chuck Norris and Johnny Moore and drummers Al Wichard and Jessie Price.
In 1952 Littlefield switched to Federal Records where he cut many successful sides including the original version of Kansas City (original title was K.C.Loving).
By 1957 he had moved to Northern California and recorded for Rhythm Records where he produced his hit Ruby Ruby.
During the sixties he was content to play various clubs around the San Francisco area. In the seventies he was re- discovered and returned to the public stage with appearances at the first San Francisco Blues Festival and the Sacramento Blues Festival.
In the mid-seventies he recorded several sides for Blues Connoisseur Records. In 1978 he did his first, very successful, tour in Europe.
Since 1980 Willie has been continually on the road in Europe, playing theatres, clubs and festivals.His first performance at the Montreux Jazz Festival was broadcasted on television by the BBC. He appeared at many radio- and television shows all over Europe. But Willie also continued his performances outside Europe. Willie toured in Canada and appeared at the Chicago Blues Festival in 1988
During the period 1980-1997 he recorded 10 albums for several European record companies. These albums were spoken in much appreciation by the music critics. Being on the road for more than 50 years, Willie stopped touring in 2000. This, however, does not mean that he leads an idle life; on the contrary, he still practices his music with a never ending energy and his technique is superb as ever.
The only restriction is that he now only accepts concerts which accords with his interest and which are, for practical reasons, not too far away from his home town.
So after five years of retirement in his adopted home country The Netherlands, Little Willie Littlefield decided to play again starting in 2006. I went fishing for five years - now I know every herring in Holland by name - it got boring. I feel great and I want to be back with my audience- Little Willie declared.
He looks at least 10 years younger than his 74 years - he feels great - he plays great - and he is happy to go back to the stage.