Lil’ Ed & The Blues Imperials

Small in stature, but a giant of the Chicago blues. With blistering slide guitar riffs, raw-boned Chicago shuffles, and heartfelt slow blues, Lil’ Ed Williams and his high-octane road tested band have been aptly described as “the world’s #1 house-rocking blues band.”


[audio:|artists=Lil’ Ed & The Blues Imperials|titles=Hold That Train]
  • Chicago Blues
  • Chicago, Illinois

From the Dean’s Desk »

Think Little Richard’s energy combined with Chuck Berry’s chops. Slide guitarist Lil’ Ed Williams has been at it playing the loud and electric Chicago blues style since the 80s. Sporting his signature fez hat (and usually a shiny vest) and with his ever talented Blues Imperials at his side, the guy can and will shred on the guitar until the sun comes up. Recommended if you like Muddy Waters and Buddy Guy (Robert Randolph & The Family Band, and Jimi Hendrix if you want to stretch it a bit).

Professional bio

Lil’ Ed Williams may be small in stature, but he’s a giant of the Chicago blues. Wicked slide guitar riffs, raw-boned shuffles, and deep, slow blues are signatures of Lil’ Ed Williams and his high-octane band, The Blues Imperials, aptly described as “the world’s #1 house-rocking blues band.” Not since the heyday of Hound Dog Taylor has a Chicago blues band served up such a contagiously wild and joyous sound. With his deep back bends, high toe walks, and electrifying slide guitar, Williams’ music embodies classic Chicago blues, one of the most thrilling and iconic sounds in American music.

The blues runs deep in Lil’ Ed’s family. His uncle and musical mentor was the great Chicago slide master, J.B. Hutto, who, with his band The Hawks, helped define the city’s blues sound in the 1950s. Born in Chicago on April 4, 1955, by age 12 Ed was playing guitar, bass and drums, and soaking up everything that his uncle could show him. In 1975 he formed a band with his half-brother Pookie Young, and began playing clubs in the neighborhood. Lil’ Ed and the Blues Imperials quickly went from playing neighborhood joints to performing at clubs, concert halls and festivals all over the country. The Blues Imperials, consisting of guitarist Michael Wolancevich, bassist James “Pookie” Young and drummer Kelly Littleton, provide impeccable backup for William’s charismatic music.

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