I Am the Blues
is the sixth studio Chicago blues album by Willie Dixon
, released in 1970
The album features songs written by Dixon
and originally performed by other artists for Chess Records. Four of the nine songs on I Am the Blues – "Back Door Man", "Spoonful", "I Ain't Superstitious", "The Little Red Rooster" – were originally performed by Howlin' Wolf
. "Back Door Man" and "Spoonful" were recorded by Howlin' Wolf in 1960 featuring bass by Willie Dixon
, piano work by Otis Spann, drum work by Fred Below, and guitar work by Hubert Sumlin. "The Little Red Rooster" was recorded in 1961 with guitar work by Howlin' Wolf and Hubert Sumlin, piano work by Johnny Jones, bass by Dixon, and drum work by Sam Lay. "I Ain't Superstitious" was recorded in December 1961 with Howlin' Wolf, Hubert Sumlin, and Jimmy Rogers on guitar, Henry Gray on piano, Willie Dixon on bass, and Sam Lay on drums.
The songs "You Shook Me" and "I'm Your Hoochie Coochie Man" were first recorded by Muddy Waters
. "I'm You Hoochie Coochie Man" was recorded on January 7, 1954 with Waters on vocals and guitar, Little Walter on harmonica, Jimmy Rogers on guitar, Otis Spann on piano, Willie Dixon
on bass, and Fred Below on drums. "You Shook Me" was recorded on June 27, 1962.
"The Seventh Son" was recorded by Willie Mabon in 1955. "I Can't Quit You, Baby"
was not released on Chess Records; instead it was recorded and released by Otis Rush
on the Cobra record label.
Having the audacity to state "I Am the Blues," would be preposterous if uttered by almost any other musician, but for Willie Dixon the statement is very close to the truth. As the songwriter behind some of the biggest blues classics ever recorded, had made smash hits for the likes of Muddy Waters, Little Walter, Howlin' Wolf and the rest of the legendary artists on the Chess Records roster back in the 1950s. With this album he brought his signature style to many of those same classics. Like his bass playing, Dixon's approach is mostly laid-back, lacking the aggression of the aforementioned wild men of the blues, but there is real joy in his voice, and his performances of these songs are about as good as you'll hear done, excepting of course the iconic originals.
William James Dixon (July 1, 1915 – January 29, 1992) was an American blues musician, vocalist, songwriter, arranger and record producer. He was proficient in playing both the upright bass and the guitar, and sang with a distinctive voice, but he is perhaps best known as one of the most prolific songwriters of his time. Next to Muddy Waters, Dixon is recognized as the most influential person in shaping the post–World War II sound of the Chicago blues.
Dixon was an important link between the blues and rock and roll, working with Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley in the late 1950s. His songs have been adapted by numerous rock artists; Jeff Beck, Canned Heat, Cream, the Doors, Led Zeppelin, the Rolling Stones, and Steppenwolf all featured at least one of his songs on their debut albums. In 1964, the Rolling Stones reached number one on the UK Singles Chart with their cover of Dixon's "Little Red Rooster". In the same year, the group also covered "I Just Want To Make Love To You" on their debut album, The Rolling Stones.
In 1987, Dixon reached an out-of-court settlement with the rock band Led Zeppelin
after suing for plagiarism in the band's use of his music in "Bring It On Home" and lyrics from his composition "You Need Love" (1962) in the band's recording of "Whole Lotta Love"
He received a Grammy Award and was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame
, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
, and the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
Dixon's health increasingly deteriorated during the 1970s and the 1980s, primarily as a result of long-term diabetes. Eventually one of his legs was amputated. Dixon died of heart failure on January 29, 1992, in Burbank, California.