Jack, TK, Donna, John and Ric
a legion of fans will attest, Wet Willie was perhaps the hardest rocking of all the
70s era Southern Rock bands, after the Allmans and Lynyrd Skynyrd. The band
issued an enviable array of rollicking, high energy, soulful blues-rock classics,
including the national chart-topping anthem Keep On Smilin.
Today Wet Willie continues to excite fans with their live performances, and appears
in two distinct formats: The Wet Willie Band consists of original members Jack
Hall on bass, John Anthony on keyboards, T.K. Lively on the drums, and Jacks sister
Donna D Hall on vocals and harmonies. Ric Seymour, with the band for over a
decade plays guitar and handles lead and backing vocals, while Ricky Chancey plays blues
harp and guitar.
When scheduling permits, original vocalist Jimmy Hall appears, and the band is billed as
Wet Willie, featuring Jimmy Hall.
In 1969 Wet Willie got together in Mobile behind the powerful vocals, sax and harp of
Jimmy Hall, with his brother Jack on bass. Ricky Hirsch played lead guitar, John Anthony
was on the keys, and Lewis Ross was the drummer. Early influences included the Stones,
Animals and Taj Mahal, but their sound was closer in spirit to early Otis Redding or
Little Richard- which made their move to Macon, Ga in 1970 a natural one. After all, Macon
was the hometown of Redding and Richard, as well as the headquarters of newly-formed
Capricorn Records. Wet Willie auditioned for Capricorn and were hard at work on their
debut album by the Fall of the same year.
contrast to label-mates the Allman Brothers and Marshall Tuckers long guitar
jams, Wet Willie was steeped in sweaty, good-time R&B- a potent gumbo of soulful rock
and funky rhythm and blues with fiery vocals that helped define Southern Rock.
The band went on to release six albums for Capricorn, including Drippin
Wet, recorded live in New Orleans, which perhaps best captured Wet Willies
energetic live show. Their fourth release, Keep On Smilin gave them a
hit with the title track. The addition of the Williettes, featuring Donna
D, enhanced the groups sound further with a gospel and soul sensibility.
Other popular tracks recorded during their Capricorn years include Countryside of
Life, Leona and Dixie Rock.
In 1978 Wet Willie reformed with a new line-up and a contract with Epic Records. Founding
brothers Jimmy and Jack Hall were joined by additional members Mike Duke on keyboards,
drummer T.K. Lively, and guitarists Larry Berwald and Marshall Smith. The Epic albums,
Manorisms and Which Ones Willie? yielded two more chart hits
- Streetcorner Serenade and Weekend.
After pursuing other interests in the 1980s, Wet Willie re-emerged in the
90s and started accepting select concert dates around the Southeast. In 1990
the band was inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame, and in March of 2001 was also
honored by the Alabama Music Hall of Fame.
Wet Willie, 1972
"Drippin' Wet" New Years 1973
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