April 29, 1937|
Osceola, Arkansas, United States
|Died||September 7, 1993
Chicago, Illinois, United States
|Genres||Chicago blues, electric blues|
|Labels||Isabel, JSP, Black & Blue, Wolf|
|Junior Wells, J. B. Lenoir, Hound Dog Taylor, Johnny Dollar|
He is best known for fronting his own band, Shock Treatment, and his work with Junior Wells, J. B. Lenoir and Hound Dog Taylor. One commentator noted that "for wild-ass showmen in blues history ... one would certainly have to go a far piece to beat Lefty Dizz". Dizz favoured a right-handed Fender Stratocaster, which he played with his left hand, hence the first part of his stage name. The derivation of the second part of his stage name is uncertain. According to one source, the name came from his playing the trumpet in the style of Dizzy Gillespie; another source says that Ted Harvey, the drummer for Hound Dog Taylor & the HouseRockers, gave him the nickname in reference to his "playing jazz in the alley".
Dizz was reputedly the brother of the blues musician Johnny Dollar.
He was born Walter Williams in Osceola, Arkansas. He learned the rudiments of guitar playing while serving for four years in the United States Air Force. Unlike other left-handed players who restrung their instruments to mirror the conventional string order, Dizz played a right-handed guitar upside down, thereby reversing the order of the strings. After his discharge in 1956, he moved first to Detroit and then to Chicago, where he settled permanently. In Chicago he played under the guidance of Lacy Gibson and Earl Hooker. He was proficient enough to join Sonny Thompson's band in 1958. He also worked with Junior Cannady and John Lee Hooker. In a major career move in 1964, he became a member of Junior Wells's backing ensemble. They toured around the world until 1971, when Dizz joined Hound Dog Taylor and the HouseRockers. He remained a member of that band until Taylor's death in 1975. He then formed the band Shock Treatment, and with this ensemble he further developed his flamboyant performing act, which included raunchy jokes as well as his showy but skillful guitar playing. His pleasant, jocular character was complemented by his intelligence; he received a degree in economics from Southern Illinois University.
Dizz performed at Chicago clubs, such as the Kingston Mines, B.L.U.E.S. and the Checkerboard Lounge, and toured internationally. His playing was witnessed by members of the Rolling Stones and Foghat. He played on the recording of Live at the Checkerboard Lounge, Chicago 1981 with Muddy Waters and Rolling Stones Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Ron Wood. His studio recordings did not capture the essence of his live performances.
|1979||Somebody Stole My Christmas||Isabel Records|
|1979||Lefty Dizz feat. Big Moose Walker||Black & Blue Records|
|1982||Lefty Dizz and Shock Treatment Live in Chicago||Independent|
|1982||Lefty Dizz and Shock Treatment Live at the Kingston Mines, Volume 1||Independent|
|1983||Lefty Dizz and Shock Treatment Live at the Kingston Mines, Volume 2||Independent|
|1995||Ain't It Nice to Be Loved||JSP Records|
|2002||Walked All Night Long with Louisiana Red - originally recorded in 1976||The Blues Alliance|
|2007||The Healer, Carlos Johnson & Lefty Dizz||Wolf Records|