Swamp Dogg

Last updated
Swamp Dogg
Swamp-Dogg-2018.jpg
Background information
Birth nameJerry Williams Jr.
Also known asLittle Jerry
Little Jerry Williams
Born (1942-07-12) July 12, 1942 (age 77)
Portsmouth, Virginia, US
Genres Soul, R&B, country, disco
Occupation(s)Singer, songwriter, record producer
InstrumentsVocals, guitar
Years active1954–present
LabelsMechanic, Calla, Musicor, Cotillion, Loma, Canyon, Elektra, Stone Dogg, Alive Naturalsound Records
Website theswampdogg.com

Jerry Williams Jr. (born July 12, 1942), generally credited under the pseudonym Swamp Dogg after 1970, is an American soul and R&B singer, musician, songwriter and record producer. Williams has been described as "one of the great cult figures of 20th century American music." [1]

Contents

After recording as Little Jerry and Little Jerry Williams in the 1950s and 1960s, he reinvented himself as Swamp Dogg, releasing a series of satirical, offbeat, and eccentric recordings, as well as continuing to write and produce for other musicians. He debuted his new sound on the Total Destruction To Your Mind album in 1970. In the 1980s, he helped to develop Alonzo Williams' World Class Wreckin' CRU, which produced Dr. Dre among others. [2] He continues to make music, releasing Love, Loss & Autotune on Joyful Noise Recordings in 2018, [3] [4] and Sorry You Couldn't Make It in 2020. [5]

Biography

Early life and recording career

Williams was born in Portsmouth, Virginia. He made his first recording, "HTD Blues (Hardsick Troublesome Downout Blues)", for the Mechanic record label in 1954, when he was aged 12, with his parents and uncle and backing musicians, and was regularly hired to play private parties. [5] From 1960, he released occasional singles for a variety of labels, including the self-written "I'm The Lover Man" in 1964, which was first issued on the Southern Sound label and was then picked up by the larger Loma label, almost breaking into the national Billboard Hot 100. [6] [7] He also wrote successfully for other musicians, including "Big Party" for Barbara and the Browns. [7]

As Little Jerry Williams, he had his first national chart success in 1966, when "Baby You're My Everything", which he co-wrote and produced, was released on the Calla label and rose to #32 on the R&B chart, again just missing the Hot 100. [8] [9] He released several more singles on Calla through to 1967, by now credited simply as Jerry Williams, but with little commercial success, although some of his records such as "If You Ask Me (Because I Love You)" later became staples of the Northern Soul movement in the UK. [6]

By late 1967 he started working in A&R and other duties for the Musicor label in New York. [10] In 1968 he co-wrote, with Charlie Foxx, Gene Pitney's up-tempo hit, "She's a Heartbreaker", which Williams also claimed to have produced, saying: "I produced the motherfuck out of it... [and] Charlie Foxx put me down on the label as "vocal arranger." What the fuck is that? When they took out full-page ads in Billboard and Cashbox, there was a picture of Charlie on one side and a picture of Gene Pitney on the other and no mention of me." [11]

Later in 1968 Williams began working as a producer at Atlantic Records with Jerry Wexler and Phil Walden, [1] [12] on artists including Patti LaBelle & the Blue Belles, though he found the administration frustrating. [5] He established a songwriting partnership with Gary Anderson, who performed as Gary U.S. Bonds, and the pair wrote the R&B chart hits "To the Other Woman (I'm the Other Woman)" by Doris Duke, and "She Didn't Know (She Kept on Talking)" by Dee Dee Warwick. [7] He also recorded a single, "I Got What It Takes", in a duo with Brooks O'Dell, and released two singles under his own name on the Cotillion label, a subsidiary of Atlantic. [6]

Work as Swamp Dogg

Williams later wrote: [13]

I became Swamp Dogg in 1970 in order to have an alter-ego and someone to occupy the body while the search party was out looking for Jerry Williams, who was mentally missing in action due to certain pressures, mal-treatments and failure to get paid royalties on over fifty single records.... Most all of the tracks included were recorded in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, and Macon, Georgia, which brings me to how the name Swamp Dogg came about. Jerry Wexler, Atlantic Records v.p. and producer/innovator second to none, was recording in the newly discovered mecca of funk Muscle Shoals, Alabama. He coined the term "Swamp Music" for this awesome funk predominately played by all white musicians accompanying the R'n'B institutions e.g., Wilson Pickett, Aretha Franklin, King Curtis... I was also using the same "swamp" players. I was tired of being a jukebox, singing all of the hits by Chuck Jackson, Ben E. King, etc., and being an R'n'B second banana. I couldn't dance as good as Joe Tex, wasn't pretty like Tommy Hunt, couldn't compare vocally to Jackie Wilson and I didn't have the sex appeal of Daffy Duck. I wanted to sing about everything and anything and not be pigeonholed by the industry. So I came up with the name Dogg because a dog can do anything, and anything a dog does never comes as a real surprise; if he sleeps on the sofa, shits on the rug, pisses on the drapes, chews up your slippers, humps your mother-in-law's leg, jumps on your new clothes and licks your face, he's never gotten out of character. You understand what he did, you curse while making allowances for him but your love for him never diminishes. Commencing in 1970, I sung about sex, niggers, love, rednecks, war, peace, dead flies, home wreckers, Sly Stone, my daughters, politics, revolution and blood transfusions (just to name a few), and never got out of character. Recording in Alabama and sincerely singing/writing about items that interested me, gave birth to the name Swamp Dogg.

Having adopted his moniker before Snoop Dogg was born he has claimed to be "the original D-O double G." [14]

In 1970 he emerged in his new Swamp Dogg persona, with two singles on Wally Roker's Canyon label, "Mama's Baby, Daddy's Maybe", again co-written with Bonds, and "Synthetic World". He also produced the first Swamp Dogg album, Total Destruction to Your Mind. The album sleeve showed Williams sitting in his underwear on a pile of garbage. Williams' new direction apparently followed an LSD trip, and was inspired by the radical politics of the time and by Frank Zappa's use of satire, while showing his own expertise in, and commitment to, deep soul and R&B music. According to Allmusic: "In sheer musical terms, Swamp Dogg is pure Southern soul, anchored on tight grooves and accentuated by horns, but the Dogg is as much about message as music..." Although not a commercial success at the time, Swamp Dogg started to develop a cult following and eventually the album sold enough to achieve gold record status. [1] [15] Record critic Robert Christgau wrote that "Soul-seekers like myself are moderately mad for the obscure" album and has called it "legendary". [16] It was reissued in 2013 by Alive Naturalsound Records. [17]

Around the same time, one of the songs Williams had co-written with Gary Bonds, "She's All I Got", became a top-ten R&B hit for Freddie North, and was recorded with even greater success by country star Johnny Paycheck, whose version reached #2 on the country music chart in late 1971. [7] In a later interview on NPR's Studio 360 , Williams stated he was raised on country music: "Black music didn't start 'til 10 at night until 4 in the morning and I was in bed by then... If you strip my tracks, take away all the horns and guitar licks, what you have is a country song." [18] However, he also continued to write and produce deep soul songs for other musicians, including Z. Z. Hill and Irma Thomas. [1] [7] In 1971 in collaboration with co-producer and writer the legendary George Semper he released "Monster Walk Pt. 1 and 2" by the Rhythm 'N' Blues Classical Funk Band on Mankind Records label. Produced for Jerry Williams Productions, Inc.and in spite of modest sales the record once again demonstrated his entrepreneurial skill as an artist. [19]

As Swamp Dogg, he was signed by Elektra Records for his second album, Rat On! in 1971. The sleeve showed him on the back of a giant white rat, and has frequently been ranked as one of the worst album covers of all time. [20] [21] [22] [23] Sales were relatively poor, and he joined Jane Fonda's anti-Vietnam War Free the Army tour. [5] His next albums Cuffed, Collared and Tagged (1972) and Gag a Maggott (recorded at the TK Studio in 1973) were released on smaller labels, though his 1974 album, Have You Heard This Story??, was issued by Island Records. [1] In 1977 he had another minor R&B hit with "My Heart Just Can't Stop Dancing", credited to Swamp Dogg & the Riders of the New Funk. [8] He continued to release albums through the 1970s and into the mid-1980s as Swamp Dogg, on various small independent labels and in a variety of styles including disco and country and maintained a healthy cult following. He also set up his own publishing and recording company, Swamp Dogg Entertainment Group (SDEG). [1]

In 1999, "Slow Slow Disco" was sampled by Kid Rock on the track "I Got One for Ya", sparking a revival of interest in Swamp Dogg, who began performing live gigs for the first time. Several other of his recordings were sampled, and in 2009 he released two new albums, Give Em as Little as You Can...As Often as You Have To...Or...A Tribute to Rock N Roll, and An Awful Christmas and a Lousy New Year. He also released some further singles, and a compilation album of the best of his work as both Little Jerry Williams and Swamp Dogg, It's All Good, was released in 2009. Most of his early Swamp Dogg albums have also been reissued on CD. [1]

Recent work

Swamp Dogg released a full-length album of new songs in 2014, The White Man Made Me Do It, which Williams described as being a sort of sequel to Total Destruction To Your Mind. [24] [25] Shortly thereafter, Swamp Dogg teamed up with Ryan Olson from Poliça to produce the tracks for his 2018 album Love, Loss & Autotune, Justin Vernon (aka Bon Iver) fine-tuning the vocal tracks. [26] [27] The song also features instrumentation by Guitar Shorty. [28] The music video for "I'll Pretend" premiered at NPR [26] and was later featured at Rolling Stone, [29] Pitchfork, [30] Spin [31] and elsewhere. Swamp Dogg described the song as a character study about "a guy sitting in a restaurant by himself losing his fucking mind because he's hoping his woman is gonna walk by, but she's at a Ramada Inn somewhere fucking somebody else to death." [27]

In 2020, he released the album Sorry You Couldn't Make It, a country-styled record recorded in Nashville with producer Ryan Olson and musicians including Justin Vernon, John Prine, and Jenny Lewis. [5]

Discography

Albums

Chart singles

Little Jerry Williams

  • "Baby, You're My Everything" (Calla, 1966, #32 R&B chart)

Swamp Dogg

  • "Mama's Baby - Daddy's Maybe" (Canyon, 1970, #33 R&B chart)
  • "My Heart Just Can't Stop Dancing" (Musicor, 1977, #71 R&B chart)

Related Research Articles

Warren G American recording artist; rapper, songwriter, record producer and DJ

Warren Griffin III, or Warren G, is an American rapper and record producer who, aiding the G-funk sound, assisted West Coast rap's 1990s ascent. In 1990, he had formed with Nate Dogg and Snoop Dogg a trio, 213. Topping his seven Top 40 hits, the 1994 single "Regulate," Warren's duet with Nate, was a massive hit. Earlier, despite his teenage jailings in his California hometown Long Beach, having pioneering gangsta rapper Dr. Dre for older stepbrother, and having standout lyricist Snoop for groupmate, Warren G took a unique path into the rap subgenre G-funk's success.

Jerry Butler American soul singer and songwriter

Jerry Butler Jr. is an American soul singer-songwriter, producer, musician, and retired politician. He is also noted as being the original lead singer of the R&B vocal group the Impressions, as well as a 1991 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee. Since leaving The Impressions, Jerry has had over 55 Billboard Pop and R&B Chart hits as a solo artist, including some 15 Top 40 Pop hits in the Hot 100, and 15 R&B Top 10's. He served as a Commissioner for Cook County, Illinois, from 1985 to 2018. As a member of this 17-member county board, he chaired the Health and Hospitals Committee and served as Vice Chair of the Construction Committee.

Z. Z. Hill American blues singer

Arzell J. Hill, known as Z. Z. Hill, was an American blues singer best known for his recordings in the 1970s and early 1980s, including his 1982 album for Malaco Records, Down Home, which stayed on the Billboard soul album chart for nearly two years. The track "Down Home Blues" has been called the best-known blues song of the 1980s. According to the Texas State Historical Association, Hill "devised a combination of blues and contemporary soul styling and helped to restore the blues to modern black consciousness."

Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes were an American soul and R&B vocal group. One of the most popular Philadelphia soul groups of the 1970s, the group's repertoire included soul, R&B, doo-wop, and disco. Founded in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in the middle of the 1950s as The Charlemagnes, the group is most noted for several hits on Gamble and Huff's Philadelphia International label between 1972 and 1976, although they performed and recorded until Melvin's death in 1997. Despite group founder and original lead singer Harold Melvin's top billing, the Blue Notes' most famous member was Teddy Pendergrass, their lead singer during the successful years at Philadelphia International. The remaining members of the Blue Notes have reunited for Soul Train Cruises in 2013, 2015, and 2017.

Joe (singer) American R&B singer-songwriter and record producer

Joseph Lewis Thomas, known mononymously as Joe, is an American singer, songwriter and record producer. Raised in Opelika, Alabama, he later relocated to New Jersey, and in 1992 he signed a record deal with Polygram Records. He rose to prominence after releasing his debut album Everything the following year. He followed it with a series of successful albums under Jive Records, including All That I Am (1997), the international bestseller My Name Is Joe (2000) as well as the multi-certified albums Better Days (2001) and And Then... (2003). Several songs from these albums became hit singles on the pop and R&B record charts, including the number-one hit "Stutter", the top ten entries "All the Things ", "Don't Wanna Be a Player", and "I Wanna Know" as well as his collaborations "Faded Pictures", "Thank God I Found You" and "Still Not a Player".

Freddie Jackson American singer

Frederick Anthony "Freddie" Jackson is an American Grammy-nominated singer. Originally from New York, Jackson began his professional music career in the late 1970s with the California funk band Mystic Merlin. Among his well–known R&B/Soul hits are "Rock Me Tonight " (1985), "Have You Ever Loved Somebody" (1986), "Jam Tonight" (1986), "Do Me Again" (1990), and "You Are My Lady" (1985). He contributed to the soundtrack for the 1989 film, All Dogs Go to Heaven with the Michael Lloyd-produced duet "Love Survives" alongside Irene Cara.

S-Curve Records was founded in 2000 by former Mercury Records executive Steve Greenberg. It is based in New York City. In 2001 the label established a distribution and licensing agreement with EMI Records. Among the hits released by S-Curve between 2000-2004 were "Who Let the Dogs Out?" by Baha Men, "Stacy's Mom" by Fountains of Wayne and Joss Stone's first two albums, the Soul Sessions and Mind Body & Soul. In 2007 Greenberg relaunched the label after a two-year hiatus, during which he served as President of Columbia Records. In 2010, the label's distribution deal with EMI came to an end and S-Curve entered into a new U.S. distribution deal, with Universal Music Group. From 2012-2015, Warner Music Group distributed the label outside of North America.

Im Gonna Make You Love Me 1968 single by The Supremes and The Temptations

"I'm Gonna Make You Love Me" is a soul song most popularly released as a joint single performed by Diana Ross & the Supremes and The Temptations for the Motown label. This version peaked for two weeks at #2 on the Hot 100 in the United States and at #3 on the UK Singles Chart in January 1969.

Maurice White American musician, founder of Earth, Wind & Fire

MauriceWhite was an American musician, singer, songwriter, record producer, and arranger. He was the founder and leader of the band Earth, Wind & Fire. White served as the band's main songwriter, record producer and co-lead singer with Philip Bailey.

Next is an American R&B musical trio, popular during the late 1990s and early 2000s. They are best known for their number-one hit single "Too Close", which became the most successful song of 1998 in the United States, as well as for "Wifey" and "I Still Love You", all of which all still receive frequent airplay on Urban Adult Contemporary radio stations both in the US and internationally.

<i>No Limit Top Dogg</i> 1999 studio album by Snoop Dogg

No Limit Top Dogg is the fourth studio album and second on No Limit Records by American rapper Snoop Dogg. It was released May 11, 1999, by No Limit Records and Priority Records. Following the mixed reception of his previous two albums, Snoop began to work again with Dr. Dre and returned to the west coast sound of his earlier career while on Death Row Records. The album was generally met with positive reception with many critics citing it as a return to form and his best album since Doggystyle (1993). Many praised the production work for the album with the tracks made by Dr. Dre being highlighted as well as Snoop's delivery while criticism was mainly aimed at the length of the album, the No Limit features, and the lack of new lyrical content. The Source would later put the album on their list of the Top 10 Best Albums of the Year for 1999.

William Bell (singer) American soul singer and songwriter

William Bell is an American soul singer and songwriter. As a performer, he is probably best known for his debut single, 1961's "You Don't Miss Your Water"; 1968's top 10 hit in the UK "Private Number", a duet with Judy Clay; and his only US top 40 hit, 1976's "Tryin' to Love Two", which also hit No. 1 on the R&B chart. Upon the death of Otis Redding, Bell released the well-received memorial song "A Tribute to a King".

Doris Willingham, known for much of her singing career as Doris Duke, was an American gospel and soul singer, best known for her 1969 album I'm a Loser.

<i>All Eyez on Me</i> 1996 studio album by 2Pac

All Eyez on Me is the fourth studio album by American rapper 2Pac, released on February 13, 1996, by Death Row and Interscope Records.

Calla Records was a small, New York City-based independent black owned Soul record label run by Nate McCalla (1930-1980) and active from approximately 1965 to 1977.

Charlie Whitehead was a soul singer from Franklin, Virginia. Whitehead moved to New York City in 1968 and was subsequently signed to Musicor's R&B subsidiary, Dynamo Records, by Charlie Foxx. At Dynamo, Whitehead was paired with Jerry Williams, Jr., and the two wrote songs for artists such as Dee Dee Warwick and Doris Duke, including Warwick's 1970 hit, "She Didn’t Know ".

Ruby Andrews is an American soul singer. Her best known songs include "Casonova " (1967), "You Made A Believer " (1969), and "Everybody Saw You" (1970).

George Soulé is an American songwriter, singer, drummer, record producer and studio engineer whose songs have been recorded by some of the most successful artists in soul music, including Percy Sledge, Carl Carlton, Temptations and Bobby Womack. In 1973 he had a Top 40 rhythm and blues hit as a solo artist with Get Involved

Charlie Wilson (singer) American singer, songwriter and escort producer from Oklahoma

Charles Kent Wilson, also known as Uncle Charlie, is an American singer, songwriter, record producer and the former lead vocalist of the Gap Band. As a solo artist he has been nominated for thirteen Grammy awards and ten NAACP Image Awards, received a 2009 Soul Train Icon Award, and was a recipient of a BMI Icon Award in 2005. In 2009, he was named Billboard magazine's No. 1 Adult R&B Artist, and his song "There Goes My Baby" was named the No. 1 Urban Adult Song for 2009 in Billboard Magazine.

<i>Love, Loss, and Auto-Tune</i> 2018 studio album by Swamp Dogg

Love, Loss, and Auto-Tune is a studio album by Swamp Dogg. It was released via Joyful Noise Recordings on September 7, 2018. It peaked at number 7 on the Billboard Heatseekers Albums chart, as well as number 28 on the Independent Albums chart.

References

  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 "Swamp Dogg - Biography & History - AllMusic". AllMusic . Retrieved 21 June 2018.
  2. Margasak, Peter. "Spot Check". Chicago Reader. Retrieved 2018-06-12.
  3. "Swamp Dogg's 'I'll Pretend' Digs Into Auto-Tune's Soul, Featuring Justin Vernon". Npr.org. Retrieved 2018-06-12.
  4. "Listen to Bon Iver's Justin Vernon and Swamp Dogg's New Song". Pitchfork.com. Retrieved 2018-06-12.
  5. 1 2 3 4 5 Lois Wilson, "The Woof Is Out There", Record Collector, #504, April 2020, pp.74-77
  6. 1 2 3 "Soulful Kinda Music". Soulfulkindamusic.net. Retrieved 21 June 2018.
  7. 1 2 3 4 5 "Jerry Williams ••• Top Songs as Writer ••• Music VF, US & UK hits charts". Musicvf.com. Retrieved 21 June 2018.
  8. 1 2 Whitburn, Joel (2003). Top Pop Singles 1955-2002 (1st ed.). Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin: Record Research Inc. p.  428. ISBN   0-89820-155-1.
  9. "Little Jerry Williams Discography - USA - 45cat". 45cat.com. Retrieved 21 June 2018.
  10. Billboard. 2003-10-04. p.  22 . Retrieved February 16, 2015 via Internet Archive. musicor jerry williams.
  11. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-11-06. Retrieved 2014-09-24.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  12. Billboard. 28 December 1968. Retrieved February 16, 2015.
  13. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2008-01-29. Retrieved 2006-03-28.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  14. "The Most Successful Failure in the U.S. Rides a Giant Albino Rat: Meet Swamp Dogg - Los Angeles Magazine". Los Angeles Magazine. 2013-07-26. Retrieved 2018-06-12.
  15. "Swamp Dogg". Allaboutbluesmusic.com. Retrieved 21 June 2018.
  16. "CG: Swamp Dogg". Robertchristgau.com. Retrieved 2020-04-18.
  17. Marchese, David (March 5, 2013). "Tha Real Mother****ing Doggfather". Spin . Retrieved December 5, 2013.
  18. Jerry Williams, Jr., interview with Kurt Anderson Studio 360, Natl. Public Radio, WYPR, Baltimore May 9, 2009
  19. "Rhythm 'N' Blues Classical Funk Band - Monster Walk". Discogs.com. Retrieved 2017-04-15.
  20. Nick DiFonzo (2004). The WORST album covers in the world...EVER!. London: New Holland Publishers. p. 76.
  21. "A Collection of the Worst Album Covers Ever Made". Laughing Squid. 2014-11-04. Retrieved 2018-06-12.
  22. "Worst Album Covers". Coverbrowser.com. Retrieved 2018-06-12.
  23. "Rat On! by Swamp Dogg | guardian.co.uk Arts". Theguardian.com. Retrieved 2018-06-12.
  24. "Swamp Dogg - The White Man Made Me Do It". No Depression. 2015-01-03. Retrieved 2018-06-12.
  25. "Swamp Dogg: The White Man Made Me Do It". PopMatters. 2015-02-06. Retrieved 2018-06-12.
  26. 1 2 "Swamp Dogg's 'I'll Pretend' Digs Into Auto-Tune's Soul, Featuring Justin Vernon". NPR.org. Retrieved 2018-06-12.
  27. 1 2 "Swamp Dogg | Love, Loss, and Auto-Tune | Joyful Noise Recordings". Joyfulnoiserecordings.com. Retrieved 2018-06-12.
  28. "Blues Legend Guitar Shorty is Coming to the Long Beach New Blues Festival Labor Day Weekend". The LA Beat. Retrieved 2018-06-12.
  29. "Cult Soul Singer Swamp Dogg Previews New LP with Eerie Bon Iver Duet". Rolling Stone . Retrieved 2018-06-12.
  30. ""I'll Pretend" by Swamp Dogg Review". Pitchfork.com. Retrieved 2018-06-12.
  31. "Swamp Dogg — "I'll Pretend" ft. Justin Vernon: Video". Spin. 2018-06-07. Retrieved 2018-06-12.