Monday, December 31, 2007

Blues to Die for

"Weepin'" Willie Robinson, a blues singer who performed with Steven Tyler and Bonnie Raitt but also spent time homeless, has died at age 81. Robinson died Sunday in a fire started by a cigarette he was smoking in bed.

Robinson had been a sharecropper, an Army veteran and a friend of performers, including B.B. King. His daughter, Lorraine Robinson, told the Boston Globe her father found his place on stage. "A great smile would come on his face and he would be in his own little world, like he'd tune everything out," she said. "He just, like, felt the music. It was so much in his soul."

Robinson settled in Boston in 1959 and played in clubs, but by 2005 he was living on the street and out of touch with his family. Blues performers learned of his situation, held a benefit concert and made sure he was fed and clothed. Robinson later performed everywhere from local clubs to the hallways of the rest home where he lived.
It was another Blues-singing Willie, Willie Dixon, who set up the Blues Heaven Foundation in the 1980s. Somewhere in Heaven today the two Willies are singing in tandem: "I got the blues. I got the blues. I got the I lit my room on fire and died blues."

[Fort Worth Star-Telegram]

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