‘Walking The Blues’: Maestro Willie Dixon Gets A Hit Of His Own

The prolific blues writer had his only hit in his own name with a song he didn’t write himself.

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Willie Dixon 'The Chess Box' artwork - Courtesy: UMG
Willie Dixon 'The Chess Box' artwork - Courtesy: UMG

The great Willie Dixon is rightly revered for the hundreds of vintage blues songs he wrote, his countless productions for others and his many appearances as a guest musician. While he was signed by Chess Records as an artist in his own right, his breathless schedule as a composer, producer and sideman restricted his own recording activity somewhat. “Little Red Rooster,” “Hoochie Coochie Man,” “Spoonful,” “I Just Want To Make Love To You,” and and so many more from his songbook bear testament to his indelible influence. 

But in the early autumn of 1955, the future Rock and Roll Hall of Famer was enjoying his only US singles success in his own name. Ironically, it was with a song he didn’t write himself. “Walking The Blues” was a delightful mid-tempo blues composed by Champion Jack Dupree and Teddy McRae. Dupree, the New Orleans blues figurehead, had his own version of the song out just ahead of Dixon’s, and a chart battle commenced in which both artists were successful.

Dupree’s “Walking The Blues,” released on King, was credited to Jack Dupree and Mr. Bear, the recording identity of his co-writer and featured pianist McRae. It  entered Billboard’s Best Sellers In Stores and Most Played By Jockeys R&B listings on August 20, 1955 and reached No.6 in an 11-week run.

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Dixon replicated the walking-tempo beat, spoken vocal and piano features of the original, the latter played on his rendition by Lafayette Leake. Willie’s Checker 45 made its debut during Dupree’s chart run, on another of Billboard’s R&B listings, Most Played In Juke Boxes, on September 10.

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Three weeks later, on October 1, Dixon’s rendition showed for the first time on Most Played By Jockeys. It too reached a No.6 peak, but with a shorter, four-week stay. But both takes on “Walking The Blues” were among the most enjoyable blues entries of 1955.

Buy or stream “Walking The Blues” on Willie Dixon’s The Chess Box.



  1. Randy

    October 3, 2017 at 10:19 pm

    Willie made Chicago blues. That’s it. He MADE it.

  2. David Lester

    October 4, 2017 at 10:31 am

    I was lucky enough to see Willie back in 1980 in Chicago at a performance that was taped for broadcasting. Incredible performance, amazing concert. Never to be forgotten.

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