Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Willie West - Fairchild

Got a strange and funny story for you today. Back in the day, right before eBay there was a gentleman that held auctions for rare funk, soul and R&B 45's. I'm embarrassed to say I don't know his name, maybe some of you will recall the fellow I'm talking about as you read on. I'm ashamed I don't know his name partly because I was so enamored with his service and thought he was pioneering the sale of 45's in his own way. Now, maybe there were other folks that were doing a similar thing, but this was the first AND last time I had heard of such a thing. Again, I can't recall his name, but if I were to dig around in my acres of junk I might find it, or some trace of his service. But, I was sad when he announced that he was retiring. I had tried to convince him that he could take his same formula to the likes of eBay, which mind you, had evolved and become a major source for rare records especially in its infantile state by the time this man retired.

This service involved getting on a mailing list, which involved paying a small fee, and receiving in return for the fee a cassette tape with clips of rare 45's to be auctioned. There was a list that accompanied the tape, it was meticulous and very organized. You had some time to digest the list and the accompanying tape, as I believe if I remember correctly the auctions were held once a month.
The craziest thing about all of this was the way the actual auction took place. You had to call this guy at a certain time and blindly bid against other bidders over the phone. It was a really strange situation, both memorable and unique.

I don't know where this man was getting his 45's from, but he was doing an excellent job. The audio clips of the 45's was an incredible idea. Sure, even back then, I knew what I wanted and most titles I was looking for had certain qualities. But, it was an excellent way to get turned on to new stuff.
It's funny to me now to hear about how someone has to go home or be at home for the end of an eBay auction. Not because I don't.. but, because it reminds me of those days when for a few hours on that very night I couldn't do anything. I couldn't bother to be distracted and I certainly could not take ANY calls. The pressure was enormous to frantically get what I had wanted. And, even the concept of listening to tapes with 30-45 second sound samples is mind boggling. Of course if you've know me for years, you've probably never heard this story. Partly because it was my secret little treasure trove of soul goodies.

If you're reading this and YOU'RE the man I'm speaking of. Please say 'Hello', but more importantly please excuse my grievous error of not remembering your name, your business or service name.

This is the story of how I discovered Willie West. Long before he was comped by the flurry of New Orleans funk and soul volumes of re-issue action. This was a regional record, and I might have never discovered it without this dudes most excellent service. What I got first was the promo copy white label and for a while I had not seen a regular release. In fact I came across another promo before I saw anything else. When I first heard this 45 on one of those tapes, my mind was completely blown. I HAD to have it. I just about lost my shit sweatin' over getting this goodie. I did win it, can't remember for how much, long before the ridiculous prices on eBay and I played the crap out of it. I played it at my mod gigs, but at the time there were fewer funk 4 nites and most mods wanted to hear 60's soul. Still I played it and quickly cleared the floor, both because it was a slow funk churner and totally unknown. But, what a great tune. I'm glad it's resurfaced and folks have found out about Willie and the tune has gotten some play and much deserved attention. Goes the same for the career of Willie himself.

Willie cut a few other 45's, one of my favorites being 'Hello Mamma' for the Deesu label, another fine New Orleans label. Everything Willie cut was tightly aligned with our other hero's the Meters and the Toussaint and Sehorn gang. It seems Willie was another in the camp and was being pushed by that early funk family where ever they could. His singles don't disappoint if you're searching for that sound. We'll rip 'Hello Mamma' for a future post, I promise!

Willie now has a few other records out on P-Vine and Timmion Records. Some excellent stuff there too. Some unreleased material that is incredible and some new material that is just as amazing as his old stuff. Which by the way is incredible if you can get your hands on it. We'll have to revisit the Willie West sound as the 'Don't Be Ashamed to Cry' 45 is a tear drenched haunting soul song. There's other amazing early R&B that Mr. West has as well. Well, not enough time, but another superstar of the New Orleans soul story. He's still around as far as I know. I've heard he's playing and performing out these days. I hope to catch him some time soon. A true secret treasure within the depths of deep soul and New Orleans funk!
right on Willie, we love you here at Sound Boutique!

Willie West - Fairchild


  1. Well, however you stumbled upon me, I'm glad you found me! I've just released a new CD from CDS Records "Can't Help Myself" with original material and crack musicians from Minneapolis, and have a vinyl album coming soon from Timmion Records out of Finland.
    Thanks for the shout out.
    Willie West

  2. Hey Willie!!! Great to hear from you...thanks for sharing your additional info!! We will love to support anything you do or are working on!!!
    Timmion Records is great... please keep us informed of your releases!!!



  3. Hi, I'm looking for more info on the standard issue of this 45....and I was hoping to contact you about the copy you posted, but so far have been unable to find an email address.

    Is there some way I can contact you directly?