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4th July
written by Matt The Cat

Little Willie Littlefield

Little Willie Littlefield

1931 – 2013

We just learned of the death of blues singer/pianist LITTLE WILLIE LITTLEFIELD.  He actually passed away on June 23 in the Netherlands.  LITTLEFIELD was 81 and died of cancer.  He was born on Sept. 16, 1931 in El Campo, TX and began playing guitar at an early age.  By his teens, LITTLEFIELD had switched to piano and had already started developing his trademark boogie woogie piano-style of triplet playing.  By 1948, he was making a name for himself and caught the attention of the Bihari Brothers of Modern Records.  They brought him out to LA and in the early fall of 1949, LITTLEFIELD took the R&B charts by storm with “It’s Midnight (No Place To Go)” (Modern), reaching #3 on the national R&B Chart.   Two other hit singles followed: “Farewell” (#5 in ’49) and “I’m Lost” with Little Lora Wiggins (#10 in ’51).  LITTLEFIELD will always be remembered as the cat who first laid down the Leiber/Stoller classic “Kansas City” (first called “KC Lovin'” when LITTLEFIELD cut it in ’52).  His version didn’t chart, but it set the mold for the hit versions that would follow, especially Wilbert Harrison’s 1959 chart-topper on Fury Records.  Little Richard and The Beatles were two other big artists from the long list that have recorded versions of “Kansas City.”  LITTLEFIELD didn’t have any more chart hits, but he continued to release records on Federal, including duets with label-mates Lil Greenwood and Little Esther until the mid-1950s.  In the 1970s, while getting into the swing of doing European tours, LITTLEFIELD decided to settle in the Netherlands, where he married and spent the rest of his life.  He was there for the development of post-war rhythm & blues and rock n’ roll and remained true to his artform.  He continued to perform the boogie woogie piano style he helped to develop until the day he died.


1 Comment

  1. 04/12/2013

    Little Willie Littlefield was my first cousin and I was sorry to hear of his death and would love to get a reply and I live in Austin,Texas which is about 140 miles from where He was born in EL Campo Texas.

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