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Subject: Singer, producer, & songwriter Willie Murphy

Dies at 75
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Date Posted: Sunday, January 13, 11:38:45am

'Heart and soul of Minneapolis music scene' Willie Murphy dies at 75

The blues and R&B veteran led Willie & the Bees, produced Bonnie Raitt and was a charter member of the Minnesota Music Hall of Fame.

January 13, 2019

He excelled at the blues, and suffered from it, too, but Willie Murphy was best known for consistently bringing joy to the Twin Cities music scene for five decades whether he was fronting the sprawling R&B band Willie & the Bees or playing solo piano at the 400 Bar. The celebrated singer, songwriter, producer, bandleader and all-out ringleader from the Minneapolis West Bank music scene died Sunday morning just a month after celebrating his 75th birthday by releasing a topical new album.

A charter member of the Minnesota Music Hall of Fame alongside Prince and Bob Dylan, Murphy had been suffering from a flurry of health issues over the past year, including kidney trouble and a blood infection.

He had re-entered a hospital before New Year’s Eve and was in an intensive care unit, where he reportedly fell victim to heart failure in the end.

“He was the heart and soul of the Minneapolis music scene,” said fellow bluesman and friend Paul Metsa. “If anybody asks if white men can sing the blues, they’ve never heard Willie Murphy.

Willie & the Bees co-vocalist Maurice Jacox said, “He was one of the best songwriters in America, or at least the best songwriter I’d ever worked with.”

Murphy’s longtime running buddy Spider John Koerner — their 1969 collaborative album “Running, Jumping, Standing Still” was a cult classic that led to Murphy producing Bonnie Raitt’s first album — paid Murphy a visit just after Thanksgiving.

“We just jawboned like the old days,” recalled Koerner, who said Murphy had been fighting through his illnesses in recent months but “it just amounted to too much, and he had been fighting depression, too.”

While the trio Koerner, Ray & Glover would be the best-known of Minneapolis’s blues- and folk-picking West Bank Music scene makers of the 1960s, signing to Elektra Records and influencing Bob Dylan and the Beatles, Koerner said Murphy was “the one who really blew the lid off what was possible.”

“I was just a folk musician, but Willie was a real musician,” he said. “That’s why Bonnie wanted to work with him.”

Raitt was among the many fans and friends who recently donated money to a fund to help Murphy pay his mounting health bills. A crowdsourcing campaign also helped pay for the production of Murphy’s new album, “Dirtball,” which he released to raves just before Thanksgiving with seething but high-energy songs that preached peace and love amid the politics of the day.

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Subject Author Date
Link please (NT)ThanksSunday, January 13, 11:49:20am
  • Here 'tis -- ., Sunday, January 13, 11:58:43am
"I'll Be Here"Willie MurphySunday, January 13, 01:18:49pm

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