Lil’ Ed and the Blues Imperials are among the premiere party bands to have come out of Chicago during the ’80s. Often compared to Elmore James and Hound Dog Taylor, fiery, flamboyant slide guitarist Lil’ Ed Williams and his group play dedicated, rough-edged and hard-rocking dance music and have established an international reputation. A native of Chicago, Williams was first inspired by his uncle, renowned slide guitarist J.B. Hutto, with whom he studied as a young teen. Hutto not only taught him slide, but also introduced Williams to bass and drums. Williams’ half-brother, James Young, was also a student of Hutto, and later became the bassist for the Blues Imperials. The brothers co-founded their group in the early ’70s and went professional in 1975, playing at Big Duke’s Blue Flame on the West Side. The gig earned them a whopping six bucks, which the group members split evenly. In those early years, Williams worked days at a car wash while Young drove a school bus. Despite their humble start, Williams and the Blues Imperials kept performing at night and by the early ’80s had developed a substantial regional following. Signing to Alligator in the mid-’80s, they released their debut album, Roughhousin’, in 1986 and found themselves receiving national attention. They began playing urban clubs and festivals all over the country and eventually toured Canada, Europe and Japan. They released their second album, Chicken, Gravy & Biscuits, in 1989, and the success continued as the Blues Imperials began appearing with such artists as Koko Taylor and Elvin Bishop during the Alligator Records 20th Anniversary Tour.
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