The longtime drummer with the Muddy Waters Band, bluesman Willie "Big Eyes" Smith was born in Helena, AK, on January 19, 1936; raised by his sharecropper grandparents, as a child his neighbors included the likes of Robert Nighthawk and Pinetop Perkins. At 17 he traveled to Chicago to visit his mother, and never returned home; instead Smith taught himself harmonica and drums, and with harpist Clifton James and guitarist Bobby Lee Burns formed a blues trio. Upon marrying his first wife in 1955, Smith agreed to retire from performing, but within a year he was backing Arthur "Big Boy" Spires; after a brief attempt at fronting his own band, he returned to his drum kit, joining Hudson Shower's Red Devil Trio. After a few lean years that forced him to go on welfare, Smith joined Waters in 1961 and remained with the blues ...
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