Tuesday, February 27, 2024

R&B Legend Willie Jones, Age 86, Releases His First Album Ever — A Soul Banger — Including a Song by Former Senator Al Franken

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Willie Jones and the Royal Jokers have their debut album out, produced by my old friend in Nashville, Jon Tiven.

Who is Willie? Jon says: “According to Bettye LaVette, Willie discovered her and was the first professional person in the music business she ever met…and he told her she I could sing and wrote a song just for her.”.

Bettye adds in an email: “And I have loved him for most of my life.”

Willie is 86 years old. He and the Royal Jokers released some singles in the mid NINETEEN FIFTIES. But they never resulted in an album. Tiven says:

“At age 86, Willie & the RJ’s are getting their first LONG PLAYING release on Pravda Records, “Let’s Groove” featuring duets with Black Francis, Bettye LaVette, and Chuck Mead.  The songs are by Willie & myself with help from Keith Reid, Steve Cropper, Steve Kalinich, Al Franken, Chuck Mead, Bettye LaVette, Joe Bonamssa, Frederick Knight, Andreas Werner and Charlie Feldman.”

I met Jon in 1999 when he was producing a Wilson Pickett album called “Soul Survivor.” He’s done a lot of great work down in Nashville with his wife, Sally, putting out stellar, real music these last 25 years or so. He knows I’m a sucker for these stories.

So Willie Jones — the whole album rocks. I have a couple of tracks here I really, really like including “Color TV” and “Every Day is New.” Former Senator Al Franken co-wrote “Color TV.” Another old friend, the great Charlie Feldman, co-wrote “Break Free.” Enjoy!

Here’s an old Willie Jones single:

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedmanhttps://www.showbiz411.com
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.
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