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by Willie Murphy
Willie Murphy (1943 to 2019) was an American 'blues' musician, producer and songwriter. William Murphy was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA, on November 17th 1943. Part of a Catholic working-class family originating from Ireland, he began piano lessons at the early age of four, with his early claimed musical influences later stated as Little Richard, Fats Domino, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis and Ray Charles. His early practical experience was on the 'folk' circuit alongside John Koerner, and the duo recorded the album "Running, Jumping, Standing Still" in 1969. Although it received positive reviews, they eventually split up, with Koerner pursuing an unsuccessful career in filmmaking after (temporarily) retiring from the music business (he was last known to be living in Copenhagen, Denmark). Murphy was then offered a full-time job as an in-house producer by 'Elektra Records', but declined as he wished to remain in the Minneapolis area. Probably best-known thereafter as a singer and pianist for the 'blues' band 'Willie and the Bees' throughout the 1970s and 1980s, he was also widely-known for his production work with Bonnie Raitt (he produced her 1971 debut album for 'Warner Bros Records'). During many studio sessions, he performed on piano, bass, guitar and other instruments for not only Raitt and Koerner, but also Greg Brown, Prudence Johnson and Little Milton, plus many others. After he formed his 'Atomic Theory Records' label in 1985, he released albums by Phil Heywood, 'Boiled in Lead' and Larry Long, as well as his own work and that recorded by various other 'world music' artists. The "Minnesota Music Hall of Fame" inducted Murphy into its ranks at the same time as Bob Dylan and Prince during its charter class of 1990, and in 2008 he also entered the "Minnesota Blues Hall of Fame". The St Paul (Minnesota) mayor of the time, Chris Coleman, duly declared July 2nd of 2010 to be "Willie Murphy Day", along with all anniversaries which would follow. In the same year, his double-CD release "A Shot of Love in a Time of Need/Autobiographical Notes" actually reached No. 14 on Billboard's Top Blues Albums chart. Having suffered numerous health problems in later life however, Willie Murphy died from pneumonia in a Minneapolis hospital on January 13th 2019, aged 75.
Posted: 9th February 2019
Hundreds of very talented musicians pass away each year, some without much recognition at all. On "Rest In Peace", I aim to give them a fitting 'send-off', with a decent Tribute. I hope you will join me in marking their passing.....
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