Chuck Willis (born Harold Willis) was a successful American songwriter and recording artist in the 1950s. Although known as an R&B artist, it was at a time when the distinctions between R&B, rock’n’roll, country and pop had not yet been clearly drawn and his music happily crossed over these boundaries and beyond. Over the years Willis’ reputation as a songwriter has deservedly grown through the recording of his songs by a wide range of artists. The Kassner group is proud to represent Chuck’s catalogue in its entirety.
Covered by Elvis
Chuck Willis began his career as a big band singer in the late 1940s and signed a contract with Columbia Records in 1951, though after his first single he began recording with Columbia subsidiary Okeh Records. His first successes included You’re Still My Baby YOU'RE STILL MY BABY by CHUCK WILLIS|, which would later be recorded by Otis Redding and Ike and Tina Turner, and I Feel So Bad I FEEL SO BAD by CHUCK WILLIS|, which was covered by none other than Elvis Presley.
“The King of The Stroll”
In 1956, Willis’ contract with Okeh Records ended and he moved to Atlantic Records. It was here that he achieved his greatest successes as an artist in his own right, becoming known as “The King of The Stroll” after his hit C.C. Rider C.C. RIDER by CHUCK WILLIS| was used to promote the latest dance craze of the time. Other hits on Atlantic included It’s Too Late IT'S TOO LATE by CHUCK WILLIS|, covers of which would be released by Buddy Holly and Roy Orbison amongst others, Betty and Dupree BETTY AND DUPREE by CHUCK WILLIS| and Hang Up My Rock and Roll Shoes HANG UP MY ROCK 'N' ROLL SHOES by CHUCK WILLIS|. Sadly, just as Chuck’s career seemed to be peaking, he died on 10 April 1958 at the tragically young age of 30.
A legacy of greatness
The universality of Chuck’s music has meant that his memory has been honoured time and again by some of the finest recording artists to have lived. The list of performers to have covered his works is a hugely impressive roll call- Ray Charles|, Conway Twitty, Eric Clapton’s Derek and the Dominoes, The Animals, Peaches and Herb, Jerry Lee Lewis, Cliff Richard, The Band, Tom Jones, Ruth Brown, Fats Domino, Little Richard, James Brown, Dean Martin, Aaron Neville and Linda Ronstadt, Screamin' Jay Hawkins and many others in addition to those already mentioned- and as recently as 2005 It’s Too Late IT'S TOO LATE by CHUCK WILLIS| was sampled by rap artist Kanye West in the track Gone GONE by CHUCK WILLIS,JON BRION,CAMERON GILES,DEXTER MILLS,KANYE WEST| that was included on his triple-platinum album Late Registration.
Playlist | CHUCK WILLIS