Big Joe Williams
An extraordinary, candid shot of Delta Blues guitarist, singer, and songwriter Big Joe Williams. Check out his expressive face as he enjoys a meal and a smoke. Easily matched by the depth of his music. Performing for over four decades, the Blues Hall of Famer is recognized for his tunes like “Baby Please Don’t Go” as well as “Crawlin’ King Snake.” Williams is also known for having a reputation for being difficult. Yet, still to this day, nobody can deny his extraordinary musical talent.
His Musical Style
Well-known for his unique 9-string guitar and his erratic delivery, he performed with many of the greats of his day and, unlike so many, continued as a working musician all the way through till the blues revival movement occurred. Consequently, he didn’t need to be ‘rediscovered’, because he was still always around.
Burton Wilson, a photographer with an amazing career in photography captured Big Joe Williams at the Victory Grill, Austin, Texas. At first, Burton Wilson became interested in jazz and blues at the Rhode Island School of Design in the 1930s. Furthermore, he started training under internationally known photographer Russell Lee, he began to chronicle music visually.
In 1970, Eddie Wilson, founder of the now-legendary Armadillo World Headquarters, said to Burton, “Just tell anybody that asks that you own the place. That way, you’ll never need a backstage pass.” Burton became the house photographer. It was an extraordinary time in music, when the old guard of blues legends and the younger generations of rock-n-roll musicians inspired by them came together.
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Austin Music Scene: Through the Lens of Burton Wilson