Willie Tee

Atlantic 2287, 1965
Billboard: Did not chart

Willie Tee, born Wilson Turbinton in New Orleans in 1944, was part of the A.F.O. ("All For One") collective set up by Harold Battiste in the early Sixties, which included some very sharp Crescent City players but yielded up only one major hit: Barbara George's bouncy gospel rewrite "I Know", which, issued on A.F.O.'s own label and distributed by Sue, charted at #3 in 1961. But the New Orleans recording scene was in decline, and A.F.O. disintegrated, Battiste and some others throwing in the towel and relocating to the West Coast. Tee remained behind, still playing piano and singing, and Atlantic picked him up in 1965, where he turned out one pop-chart title, "Teasin' You", which stumbled to #97 but which hit #12 R&B, and a sort of sequel, "Thank You John", a mid-tempo tune written by Tee that was so eminently danceable you didn't quite notice the story line — a tale of infidelity, intrigue and an indecent proposal, so precisely described I'd bet it actually happened that way — for the first couple of dozen playings. "Thank You John", while avoiding the pop charts entirely, got some airplay in the Southeast and became a jukebox staple on the Grand Strand, which guaranteed it would have become a beach-music classic even if Alex Chilton hadn't covered it. Tee eventually brought his surname out of storage — his brother Earl Turbinton is a renowned saxman, and the two have teamed up many times over the years — and remained a part of the New Orleans music scene, occasionally crossing the ocean to play for the soul fans in England, until his death from colon cancer in September 2007.

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Where can I get this on CD?
"Thank You John" has often been anthologized; beach music was, and is, a small but very steady seller. South Carolina-based Ripete records, the leading vendor to this market, includes it on a four-CD set, The Beach Music Anthology Volume 3 (2277), which contains so much good stuff (including Tee's "Walking Up a One-Way Street", the B-side of "Teasin' You") you won't even notice the price.

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