empowering artistsearwig storeour mission
quote1-upper

The box set Cadillac Baby's Bea & Baby Records: The Definitive Collection brings to light...

Cadillac Baby's Bea & Baby Records - Downbeat 2019 Holiday Gift Guide

Downbeat Magazine

Read more herequote2-lower
quote1-upper

Anyone who's looking to advance their career would be very well served to have Michael...

Sari Schorr

New York songwriter/bandleader/singer

Read more herequote2-lower
quote1-upper

Michael is a 21st century renaissance man who has both the business acumen and the...

Don Wilcock

Freelance Music Writer

Read more herequote2-lower

Detroit Junior

October 26, 1931 – August 9, 2005

Detroit Jr. played piano on the 1996 Earwig recording Ain’t Gonna Worry, by Johnny “Yard Dog” Jones, which won a W.C. Handy Award (now the Blues Music Award) and a Living Blues Critics Poll.

Emery Williams Jr. was an important link to the great Chicago blues piano players of the 1940s and 1950s. Born on October 26, 1931, in Haynes, Arkansas, Williams was given the name Detroit Junior when be began recording on his own in the 1960s. As a child, Williams was moved around quite a bit, as his family relocated from Arkansas to Memphis, then to Pularski, Illinois, and finally to Flint, Michigan, where Williams lived with his grandmother. It was there that he began playing keyboards, learning on his grandmother’s organ (a parlor instrument that was part organ, part piano). Soon he was playing piano in the tough clubs and juke joints around Flint, eventually relocating to Chicago in the early ’50s, where he began playing with the likes of Eddie Boyd, Jimmy Reed, and Eddie Taylor.

He recorded his first 45 (and earned the name Detroit Junior), “Money Tree” b/w “So Unhappy,” in 1960, and also cut a single (“Too Poor” b/w “You Mean Everything to Me”) for Chess Records. An album, Chicago Urban Blues, came out on the Blues on Blues label in the early ’70s. In 1969 Williams began a long stint as Howlin’ Wolf’s piano player, a spot he held until Wolf’s death in 1976. Alligator Records included a few of Williams’ tracks on a Living Chicago Blues compilation in the early ’80s. Turn Up the Heat appeared in 1995 on Blue Suit Records, followed by two more albums for the label, Take Out the Time (1997) and Live at the Toledo Museum of Art (2004). Another Detroit Junior album was also released in 2004, Blues on the Internet on Delmark Records. He played piano on the 1996 Earwig recording Ain’t Gonna Worry, by Johnny “Yard Dog” Jones, which won a W.C. Handy Award (now the Blues Music Award) and a Living Blues Critics Poll. After going on dialysis in his later years, he continued to play gigs in Chicago and regionally. For a long time he played the dinner set at Kingston Mines in Chicago. He was filmed for Martin Scorsese’s PBS series, “The Blues,” and kept on writing and performing up until his death. He died of kidney failure in Chicago.

-Written by Steve Leggett, updated by Michael Frank

detroit junior
Pianist