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Blues Pianist and Vocalist Detroit Junior Dies

Legendary blues pianist, vocalist and songwriter Emery “Detroit Junior” Williams Jr. died at his home in Chicago on Aug. 9 of heart failure. He was 73. His 50-plus year career was studded with notable recordings, memorable performances and renowned band mates.

Born in Haynes, Ark. on Oct. 26, 1931, Williams’ family soon moved to Memphis and then again to Southern Illinois, where he spent his childhood growing up. His family moved again, this time to Flint, Mich., where he lived with his grandmother and began playing the instruments she kept around her house. By the time he was 19, he was leading his own band, the Blues Chaps, and playing clubs in both Flint and Pontiac, Mich. For three years, the Blues Chaps were the house band at the Circle Club in Detroit, a position that had them backing touring stars such as Roscoe Gordon, Eddie Boyd, John Lee Hooker and Amos Milburn. Playing with Milburn was a special accomplishment for Williams, who idolized Milburn and his amusing songs about the evils of alcohol.

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