Keeping the Blues Alive / Blues News  / Photo of The Week – Lefty Dizz

Lefty Dizz – Photo of The Week

Lefty Dizz was born in Osceola, Arkansas. He’s a fiery guitarist and balls-out showman, who didn’t get enough press for his legend, his skill, and his bravado.  He learned the rudiments of guitar playing while serving for four years in the United States Air Force.  After his discharge in 1956, he moved first to Detroit and then to Chicago, where he settled permanently. In Chicago he played under the guidance of Lacy Gibson and Earl Hooker.

His musical career and touring

He was proficient enough to join Sonny Thompson’s band in 1958. He also worked with Junior Cannady and John Lee Hooker. In a major career move in 1964, he became a member of Junior Wells’ backing ensemble. They toured around the world until 1971, when Dizz joined Hound Dog Taylor and the HouseRockers. He remained a member of that band until Taylor’s death in 1975. He formed the band “Shock Treatment,” and with this ensemble he further developed his flamboyant performing act.  It included raunchy jokes as well as his showy but skillful guitar playing.  

The Hendrix Connection

Legend has it that another ‘lefty’ guitar great, a then unknown Jimi Hendrix, caught up with Lefty Dizz at a Seattle gig.  Lefty’s aggressive playing had quite an influence on Hendrix. And Jimi wasn’t his only Rock ‘n’ Roll fan. The Rolling Stones, Foghat, and others would often catch Lefty’s Chicago gigs.

He Performs with Muddy Waters

Dizz performed at Chicago clubs, such as the Kingston Mines, B.L.U.E.S. and the Checkerboard Lounge, and toured internationally.  He played on the recording of Live at the Checkerboard Lounge, Chicago 1981 with Muddy Waters and Rolling Stones, His studio recordings did not capture the essence of his live performances.  His pleasant, jocular character was complemented by his intelligence; he received a degree in economics from Southern Illinois University.  Dizz died of effects of esophageal cancer on September 7, 1993, at the age of 56.  

About the Photographer:

This picture was taken by Kirk West, A music lover who made a career out of music photography.  West is first and foremost a music lover. He has never been able to get enough of the people, places, and things that comprise the life of a touring artist. In search of the richness that musicians and their music bring the world, his travels and life have taken him from his Iowa birthplace to far flung reaches of the globe, camera in hand. 

In 1989 he served as the tour manager for the Allman Brothers Band for over 20 years.  Check out his website to read more about his fantastic adventures and other artists he has captured as a part of musical history.

Keeping the Blues Alive

Help us with our mission of Keeping the Blues Alive in schools! To learn more or donate to Keeping The Blues Alive, visit our website at

Photo Credits: 1981– Lefty Dizz, Chicago Blues legend, at the Checkerboard Lounge –Image by © Kirk West.