WILLIAM 'Memphis
Willie B










Willie Borum was born in Shelby County, Tenneessee, in 1911. His musical ability was evident from an early age and his father, who was also a good musician, taught him the guitar. By the time he was eighteen years old he was playing in Memphis as a member of Jack Kelly's Jug Busters. He also worked the street corners, parties and picnics, and any other venue where he could supplement his income. His career took a step up when he joined the Memphis Jug Band, a professional group that worked out of Memphis and down the Mississippi, playing the delta towns and riverboats, travelling as far as New Orleans. When he was in his early twenties Borum met up with Noah Lewis, harp player with the other professional jug band in Memphis, Gus Cannon's Jug Stompers. Lewis taught Borum to play harmonica, and the combination of guitar and harp allowed Borum to widen his style and gradually move away from the jug band approach. He started working with other popular bluesmen of the period including Sonny Boy (Rice Miller) Williamson and Robert Johnson.

Borum first recorded when he was twenty three years old for Vocalion using the name Memphis Willie B. He continued to play the party and juke joint circuit in Memphis and in Mississippi until he was drafted into the army in 1943. After the 2nd World War Borum found it difficult to re-establish his career, musical tastes had changed and his style of music was no longer popular, and he was forced to find work outside of music. The blues revival of the 1960's brought a few good years back and he was successful on the college and blues festival circuit for a while. However by the end of the 1960's he disappeared from the music scene and he was reported to have died in Memphis in the early 1970's.