ST. JOHN, Indiana (CelebrityAccess) — Famed Chicago blues guitarist/vocalist and Blues Hall Of Fame member Jody Williams, who recorded with other blues luminaries such as Howlin’ Wolf and Bo Diddley, has died. He was 83.
According to Guitar World, Williams died after a battle with cancer at a health facility near his home in St. John, Indiana on December 1st.
Known for his distinctive and innovative synthesis of guitar styles, as well as his phrasing, Williams helped to shape the sound of modern blues music.
Joseph Leon (Jody) Williams was born in Mobile, Alabama in 1935 but relocated to Chicago around the age of 5. He initially began to learn the harmonica but switched to guitar after hearing Ellas McDaniel (Bo Diddley) at a talent show.
According to Alligator, he began to learn guitar from Diddley and the two began performing in the streets together before Williams moved on to performing in clubs at the age of 17.
Williams scored several early hits, including Lucky Lou, Lookin’ For My Baby, Time For A Change, and Lonely Without You but failed to break through to mainstream success.
He did, however, become a sought-after session artist for Chess, recording with blues greats such as Howlin’ Wolf, Sonny Boy Williamson, Jimmy Rogers, and Bo Diddley, including on his seminal hit Who Do You Love.
In 1958 he was called to the army, serving his tour of duty in Germany. Returning to Chicago, Williams studied computers and engineering. He left the music business in the 1960s after being frustrated with other performers imitating his style and lifting his riffs.
In 2000, Williams was again bitten by the music bug after watching a performance by Robert Lockwood, Jr., and he returned to the stage with a club gig at the Chicago Blues Festival. He went on to record a pair of successful comeback albums for Evidence Records — Return Of A Legend (2002) and You Left Me In The Dark (2004).
He also returned to touring, performing regularly at blues festivals and club appearances, both in Chicago and internationally.
He was inducted into the Blues Hall Of Fame in Memphis in 2013 and into the Chicago Blues Hall Of Fame in 2015.
Williams is survived by his wife Jeanne Hadenfelt, his daughters Marilyn Murphy and Sissy Williams, sons Anthony and Jason Williams, grandchildren Justin, Noel, Joseph, Joshua, River and Ethan Williams and Gerold Murphy, and several nieces and nephews.