Murder, Mystery and Race

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He was one of the finest entertainers of the early fifties and mid sixties. William Edward Jones would make the Billboard Hot one hundred fourteen time, convicted of manslaughter, sentenced to a Washington Penitentiary where he would die mysteriously. William was only thirty years of age when he died. The evidence surrounding his conviction was of a circumstantial degree, a white person probably would have received a lesser charge. But, William Edward John was talented, arrogant and Black. His, lawyer would admit years later that “ Race played a substantial part in Mr. John’s trial” due the scant evidence that led up to the conviction and the ultimate incarceration, this story is about a young Black kid success.

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The John family, similar to families both Black and White left the South for a better economic life and for African-Americans less oppression. Soon after the John family arrived in Detroit, Michigan from Cullendale, Arkansas, some of the members formed a gospel group, but Willie also performed in talent show, where he caught the eye of the famous Johnny Otis, In 1955, William Edward John the fourth of ten children, signed a contract with King Records.

Williams Edward John first recording when to number five, his version of “All Around the World” first recorded by Titus Turner. William would replicated his chart topping ability with hits such as, “Need Your Love So Bad” written by his brother Mertis John jr. The Great B.B. King would record this song and its popularity would grow even more. Due to his stature he was dubbed Little Willie John, by the time he recorded “Fever” which was covered by Patti Page in 1958, James Brown and Natalie Cole, the daughter of the famous pianist Nat King Cole. James Brown was so impressed with Little Willie John; he once dedicated an Album to him. The Godfather of soul was painfully aware of the abuse of both drugs and alcohol in the business. James Brown, would write and recorded “ King Heroine” Yet, few heard it.
Little Willie John is on fire now. All of his song are hits, but the all time favorite to any music lover is “Talk to Me” Little Willie John popularity reached the United Kingdom at some point, causing the Beatles to record and make famous again “Leave My Kitten Alone” his chart topper in 1959. William Edward John was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame in 1996, included in this article are clips of Little Willie John at is best.

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Murder, Mystery and Race, Seekyt
General Contributor
Janice is a writer from Chicago, IL. She created the "simple living as told by me" newsletter with more than 12,000 subscribers about Living Better and is a founder of Seekyt.