Wet Willie is a veteran Southern rock band with a hard-driving, R&B-infused sound that became famous during the 1970s. They first became known in 1971 to concertgoers as the opening act for the Allman Brothers Band before debuting on the charts in the mid 1970s. Wet Willie's best known songs include the soulful "Keep On Smilin'" (1974), the upbeat "Street Corner Serenade" (1977), and the funky TGIF anthem, "Weekend" (1979).
Wet Willie began in 1969 in Mobile, Alabama as a group known as Fox before relocating to Macon, Georgia the following year where they signed with Capricorn Records and changed their name. The original core members consisted of John Anthony (keyboards), Ricky Hirsch (guitar), Lewis Ross (drums, percussion), and brothers Jack (bass) and Jimmy Hall who has, over the years, remained the band's longtime saxophonist, harmonicist, and lead singer. Drummer Michael Duke came on board in 1975, and other members who served at various times during the late 1970s included drummer T.K. Lively, guitarists Wick Larsen, Marshall Smith and Larry Berwald, singers Elkie Brooks and Leslie Hawkins, and The Williettes, a duo of female backing vocalists consisting of Ella Brown Avery and Jimmy and Jack Hall's sister Donna.
Wet Willie debuted on the Pop/Rock charts in 1974 with "Keep On Smilin'" which became a Top 10 hit and the band's best known song. This smash was followed by "Country Side Of Life" (1974), "Leona" (1975), "Dixie Rock" (1975), "Everything That 'Cha Do (Will Come Back To You)" (1976), and "Street Corner Serenade" (1977), the latter of which made the Top 40. Wet Willie's hits continued through 1979 with "Make You Feel Love Again" (1978) and "Weekend" (1979), the band's second Top 40 hit and final chart entry. Other songs for which the band is well known include a cover of Little Milton's "Grits Ain't Groceries" (from the 1972 album, "Wet Willie II").
Since the band's commercial peak in the late 1970s, Wet Willie has continued to perform and record to the present day. Jimmy Hall also launched a solo career and had a Top 40 hit in 1980 with "I'm Happy That Love Has Found You." The band's current lineup consists of three original and early members - siblings Jimmy, Jack, and Donna Hall - plus Ricky Chancey (guitar), Ric Seymour (guitar, vocals), Bobby Mobley (keyboards), and longtime member T.K. Lively (drums). Wet Willie was honored in 1976 with America's Music Award from the Alabama Hall of Fame and inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame in 2014.
- For more info about Wet Willie lead singer and co-founder, Jimmy Hall, visit jimmyhall.com.
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- Keep On Smilin' 1974
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