Alabama Music Office.com goes to the historic Bama Theatre in downtown Tuscaloosa, Alabama to see Wet Willie and Bad Brad & The Sipsey Slims perform for The Alabama Blues Project Benefit September 2012.
Wet Willie began as a thrown together blues-rock band during the magical Summer of 1969 "way down in Alabama"...(Mobile, to be precise). The original nucleus of the group that eventually became known as Wet Willie was called Fox. The first "gig" was a booking in Panama City, Florida at a club called the Oddessy, a geodesic dome right on the beach. For those who must have a concept, or reason and meaning behind every occurring work in any medium of art, the only one I can think of was "fun". Raw, hormonal...fun. Drummer Lewis Ross assembled the musicians for a group called "Fox" in the summer of 1969, which a year later became known as "Wet Willie." Wet Willie was a versatile, high-energy Southern rock band that, from 1971 until 1978, produced an array of albums awash in good-time music, rollicking high-energy blues-rock, and white Southern soul, but racked up just one Top Ten hit and a lot of admirers.
The core members of the band during that period were Jimmy Hall, vocals, harmonica, saxophone; Jimmy's brother Jack Hall on bass; John Anthony on keyboards; Ricky Hirsch on guitar, and Lewis Ross on drums and percussion. The duo of girls singing background vocals dubbed "The Williettes" were staple of the classic Wet Willie sound, and always featured Jimmy & Jack's sister, Donna Hall. Keyboardist Mike Duke also joined from The Wetter The Better LP onwards. For a short period of time in 1974 UK singer Elkie Brooks joined the band as a backing singer, as did future Honkette Leslie Hawkins.
Wet Willie put out several albums on Capricorn Records between 1971 and 1977. Along with a "Greatest Hits" album released on Polydor Records, they also released 2 more final studio albums on Epic Records, although some hits collections and further live recordings have been released as recently as 2006. Perhaps their best-known LP is the 1973 live album, Drippin' Wet, but their main claim to fame is the hit single, "Keep On Smilin,'" which reached #10 on the Billboard singles chart. They also enjoyed some other Billboard-charted songs with "Country Side Of Life," "Everything That 'Cha Do" (Will Come Back To You), "Leona," and from their Epic Records period, "Street Corner Serenade" and "Weekend" from the LP's Manorisms and Which One's Willie? They toured and recorded extensively from 1969 through the early Eighties, and they still perform today.
Wet Willie released a new live CD "Miles of Smiles" in 2012 and is touring with 4 original members, including original lead singer Jimmy Hall, brother Jack Hall on bass, sister Donna Hall on vocals and TK Lively on drums, as well as other long time members Ric Seymour on guitar and vocals, Ricky Chancey on guitar and newest member Bobby Mobley on keys.