Willie D. Warren

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It has been said that Warren, back in the 1950s, while playing in the Otis Rush band, invented the first electric bass by tuning down the three low strings on his guitar. Then the first Fender basses…
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It has been said that Warren, back in the 1950s, while playing in the Otis Rush band, invented the first electric bass by tuning down the three low strings on his guitar. Then the first Fender basses appeared on the scene and very soon every band was using them.

Willie D. Warren was born in Stamps, AR. At 13 years old, his family moved to Lake Village, AR, in the heart of the Mississippi Delta. Caleb King taught the youngster to play the guitar and soon he was playing on the streets of Lake Village and eventually led his own bands around the Delta. He taught the basics of guitar to his band singer, Eddie Jones, who went on to become Guitar Slim. In the late '40s, Warren and Jones traveled across Louisiana playing the blues.

By the 1950s, Warren had followed the great migration of southern African-Americans to Chicago. It was there that he found work with the bands of Freddie King and Otis Rush. He also played gigs with Jimmy Reed and recorded for Chess Records backing Morris Pejoe.

In 1959, he went back home to Arkansas and put together a band called the House Rockers. In 1975, Warren moved to Detroit to work and record with Bobo Jenkins. Through Jenkins, he started playing with another Detroit bluesman, Baby Boy Warren. Backed by the Progressive Blues Band, they took the Motor City by storm until the passing of Baby Boy Warren in 1977. Willie D. then took over as the main frontman for the band.

In 1977, Warren recorded his first record as leader for Bobo Jenkins' Big Star label. He wrote the lyrics to two songs that appeared on Detroit All Purpose Blues. They were "Door Lock Blues" and "Detroit Jump." He also recorded for Blues Factory, Way/Sac and Blue Suit labels, on various compilations. His first full-length CD came out on the Detroit-based No Cover label; a live session with his friend Jimmy McCarty. In the late '90s he recorded a CD for the Bluetrack label, out of England, which was not been released before his death on December 30, 2000.