San Diego Musicians Gladly Labor on Labor Day for Greg Willis

Greg Willis

Greg Willis has been slinging bass in San Diego for years. One of the founding members of Iron Butterfly and a mainstay in Candye Kane’s band are only some of the great work on his resume. Recently, Greg suffered a stroke and his San Diego musician friends are putting together a benefit concert to help with the cost. The line-up is sprinkled with San Diego’s finest talent and the show will be held at Humphrey’s Backstage Lounge.

Joey Harris, a friend and former band mate, shares a few of his fonder memories and why Greg is respected as such a fine talent:

“After the Beat Farmers ended, and my buddy Country Dick was gone, I was a man without a band. Without a job, but with a highly tuned metabolism for mayhem. I was not able to keep my own band together, and I had pretty much given up on myself, when Blonde Bruce surprised the crap out of me by asking if I could sit in with his band as second lead guitar. Greg Willis was playing with Blondo at this time, and while Blondo and I had been friends for years, I feel as though Greg sort of took me under his wing. Our instant friendship was more teacher-student than band mates. While I had come to playing in a blues band with years of experience, Greg let me know how to get the right feel for the gig. Laying low and accenting things, and waiting for my spot to blow. I could listen to Greg for hours. Talking at his pad. Telling stories of DJ-ing at KPRI. The night shift. Spinning records with Pete Townsend. In the years that followed, we ran into each other infrequently, but our genuine affection for each other has been heart-warming to me. I guess you can tell – I like this guy! Greg Willis doesn’t come to play bass in the band. Greg Willis digs in. Makes camp. When we played together we could still smoke cigarettes onstage. So, Greg would have his ashtray and his cocktail nestled safely nearby, and he’d plant his feet on that stage, square his yogi bear hat, close his eyes and Lay. It. Down. Solid – greasy – steady. In the pocket, some folks say. The drummer could drift and push and pull on the groove, and Greg would hold it down fast.”

Another performer Monday night, Billy Watson, had this to say about Greg:

“My favorite memory was seeing Greg with Candye Kane at a street fair show in Hillcrest in the early nineties. Greg’s bass style is one of the most solid. He plays with his eyes closed and really sinks a deep pocket whenever he performs. As a person, you could not find a more humble and genuinely nice person to be around. He is a wonderful guy. I really hope he pulls through. Junior Watson always asks about Greg so I am hiring Junior for the fundraiser at Humphrey’s so we can get some folks out. I think it is important to help each other at all costs. The Watsons will be there!!”

The Labor Day Benefit for Greg Willis tentative schedule:
5:00 – 5:40 pm. Wyatt Lowe’s Youngbloods With Scottie Blinn
5:50 – 6:30 pm. Nena Anderson
6:45 – 7:25 pm. Bayou Brothers with Ruby
7:30 – 8:15 pm. Chet and The Committee With Joey Harris
8:25 – 9:05 pm. Red Lotus Revue
9:20 – 10:00 pm. Billy Watson with Junior Watson

September 3, Humphrey’s Lounge – 2241 Shelter Island
Happy Hour Drink Specials, Dancing, Fun
$12.00 Donation at the door

3 Responses to San Diego Musicians Gladly Labor on Labor Day for Greg Willis
  1. David Frazier
    September 3, 2012 | 10:08 am

    This event is going to be historic! I survived a hemorrhagic stroke almost 2 years ago – it was a complete life-change. Fortunately, I’m still on the long road to recovery – I’m a little dingy, but people who know me will say I’m not THAT different! The real change is inside – That’s the hard one. It’s good that Greg has a community of friends – hopefully, he’ll be on his way soon to laying down that groove, onstage!

  2. Brad Karow
    September 2, 2012 | 12:00 am

    I played with Greg for 3 years in the Rhumboogies. I also played with him with Blondie for a time. Joey is quite right, Greg was the teacher. He would give you his input, good or bad, but leave you with you with the feeling of he was really trying to help you. My favorite story,(A True one!) is when The Boogies were playing on a ship and Greg and I think Alan Ortiz were playing a little as the people boarded. Greg was sitting on my throne, which happened to be broken. He went into the bay, as well as my throne, stand, and 1959 Ludwig snare. Funny, it washed the date of Feb. 1959 out of the inside of the drum. I got all the stuff back,although I think it was the next day. Greg’s bass amp was plugged in and the bass was plugged into the amp, but the power was OFF on the Main power to the amp. How very fortunate for The ‘Staff Sargent’ (Greg) I will always remember the good times. We has quite a time in Borrego Springs as well. Remember, this is when there were about 4 “Blues and Jump bands” in town. (Not 4 hundred) It was the golden age for the blues in San Diego. May the Lord be with you, Greg!

  3. Terry Flood
    September 1, 2012 | 10:13 pm

    Lets see all the greats coming out in force to support this veteran of rock n roll in his time of need.
    May the good Lord provide all he needs at this difficult time.

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