4 September 1934
Shreveport, Caddo Parish, Louisiana, United States
22 September 2004 (aged 70)
U.P. WILSON (1934.09.04/Shreveport, LA - 2004.09.22/Paris, France) was born on a farm in Catto Parish, Shreveport, Louisiana, to parents Carrie Lee and Tommy Wilson. Raised in West Dallas, Wilson learned the blues from ZuZu Bollin, Cat Man Fleming, Frankie Lee Sims, Mercy Baby and Nappy "Chin" Evans.
Wilson later relocated from Dallas to Fort Worth and formed a duo, the Boogie Chillun Boys, with drummer and vocalist Robert Ealey. Later he worked with Cornell Dupree before Dupree left to become a session musician. The Boogie Chillun Boys provided inspiration to fellow Texan singer and guitarist Ray Sharpe.
From 1967 onwards he raised his family, and worked in Fort Worth during the day as a school janitor. At night, Wilson performed as a sideman in local nightclubs. By the late 1970s, Wilson and Ealey played at a Fort Worth club named the New Bluebird, where they attracted crowds of Texas blues fans. By 1987, Wilson had began solo recording, and touring around Texas. However, he subsequently rejoined Ealey in his new band, The Lovers, the following year.
Music journalist, Tony Russell, noted that Wilson put on a show, playing one-handed while drinking, smoking and greeting his fans, but behind the tricks and the hyped language used in his billings ('Texas Tornado', 'Atomic Guitar' etc.,) Wilson was an musician with a talent for more than just getting boys to boogie down. His peculiar decision to sing in falsetto flawed his 1995 release This Is U.P. Wilson, but subsequent releases re-discovered his blend of Texas shuffles and low-down blues.
For most of the last decade of his life, Wilson toured both the European blues circuit and throughout the United States. Activities included appearances at the Chicago Blues Festival, and playing accompaniment to Albert Collins. Wilson was imprisoned for six months in the John R.L. Jacksboro State Penitentiary for cocaine possession between 1997 and 1998, and on his release moved to live in Paris, France.
Wilson went to hospital in Paris for surgery, and he died there on September 22, 2004, at the age of 70. His wife Rosie, predeceased him, and he was survived by two daughters and a son.
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