Steve Willis

Inducted in 1998

Steve Willis, originally from West Virginia, has been playing harmonica and piano since he was six years old. He added the organ as a teenager, then accordion. Willis started playing in rock bands around his home town of Flagstaff, Arizona in 1967, soon pushing them towards a greater blues influence. He spent five years playing blues and rockabilly in San Francisco, then returned to Flagstaff in 1982 to form groups the Wayward Sons, the Shake, and establish a local, and still running, Blue Monday jam.

Willis' music is deeply rooted in traditional American forms: blues, boogie-woogie, country, rockabilly, gospel, zydeco and New Orleans R&B. A veteran bandleader, he has also taken a supporting role in the bands of Chuck Berry, Bo Diddly, Albert King, Jimmy Rogers, and, currently, New Orleans rum legend Zigaboo Modeliste. He spent three years with the Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir, appearing on their 1995 CD "We've Come a Mighty Long Way." Willis has played on numerous other recordings over the years, including a 1992 CD collection of the best in Arizona blues, "Blue Saguaro."

Now living in Oakland, California, Willis is working on a collection of his own material that will be released in 1999.

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