Whether he’s playing haunting blues, straight forward rock, garage band noise or psychedelic fusion – Willie Phoenix delivers. Willie’s career has spanned decades - and so has his passion - never stopping, never failing to deliver jaw-dropping performances with an undeniable edge.
Born in Camden Alabama, Willie says he entered the world “wrapped in a burning southern flag” – referencing his love for the blues. Growing up, he listened to all of the greats. They were all there on the 78/45 rpm records played on his family’s Magnavox record player: Muddy Waters, Lightening Hopkins, Howling Wolf, John Lee Hooker and country greats Hank Williams, Buck Owens and Jerry Reed. Willie remembers thinking the guitars, harmonicas and voices possessed the same echoing, lonely sound as the midnight trains that rumbled past his Marion, Ohio home. It was there, in Marion, where he grew up, went to school and cut his teeth on early British invasion blues and rock n’ roll.
Willie has never looked back. He learned to play the blues from his father, bluesman Willie James Creagh Sr. who played with big names like Muddy Waters and Sonny Boy Williamson II (Willie’s godfather). Willie says, “I had a certain knack for writing songs. I started playing guitar, grabbed a few of my mates, formed a band and made a lot of wonderful noise.” Willie has worked clubs and concert halls from Toronto Canada straight to the west coast neon lights of Hollywood. He’s performed with many greats, including Muddy Waters, BB King, rock n’ roll’s Ramones and The Talking Heads – to name only a few.
A prolific songwriter, Willie released four albums in 2021: Heavy Bubblegum (2021), 3 Chords, Maybe 4 (2021) Poster Noise (2021) and Bomb Shelter 13 (2021). Other recent works include This Ain't 1968 (2020), Backstage Rain (2019), Garage Blues Band (2017), Blues My Soul (2016) and Captain Psychedelic (2015), all released through 1978 Records.
Though he's a very humble guy, if you're lucky you might get Willie to tell you about how the City of Columbus honored "the legendary rock god Willie Phoenix" by renaming 16th and High Street “Willie Phoenix Way” (October, 2020) or about being inducted into the 2022 Columbus Blues Alliance Hall of Fame (October 2022).
When not on the road, Willie’s usually cutting sides at Eastman Studios. You can probably find Willie and his band (Steven Day Carter on drums and Chuck Birchfield on bass) performing into the wee hours of the morning somewhere in town or at Eldorado’s - their favorite underground juke joint in the Graceland district of Columbus.
Willie once told a friend, “Rock n’ roll has saved me from the blues of silence.” Long live rock n’ roll!