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Little Willie John: Fever

Barney Hoskyns, Charly, July 1990

LITTLE WILLIE JOHN's is one of the saddest stories in the book of soul. A pintsized hipster from the Motor City, he notched up 14 R&B hits on the King label between 1955 and 1961 and should by rights have joined Sam Cooke, Jackie Wilson, and his greatest fan James Brown as one of the surviving R&B godfathers in the new age of soul. But Willie was the classic victim of sudden fame. One minute he was telling the press that he wanted to buy his mom a new house, the next the hits were tailing off and he was drinking and drugging the real-life blues away.

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