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Willie Eason Interviews

As a teenager, Willie Eason learned to play the steel guitar by watching his older brother, Troman, who took lessons in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania from a Hawaiian musician he heard on a radio broadcast circa 1937.  In 1939, Willie’s mother withdrew him from high school to join Bishop Lockley’s “Gospel Feast Party,” a group of preachers and musicians that toured the Eastern Seaboard from New York to Miami to perform for revivals, worship services and street corner music ministries.  A skilled musician and a powerful singer with an engaging personality, young Willie Eason soon struck out on his own to busk for tips on street corners throughout the East and in Chicago.

A deejay in Macon, Georgia dubbed him “Little Willie and His Talking Guitar,” and the moniker stuck.  Recordings for gospel record labels increased his popularity on the national level.  His second wife, Jeannette, whom he met in Ocala, Florida, worked with him tirelessly as he plied his trade from south Florida farm labor camps to the bustling streets of Chicago.   Together, they raised more than thirty-two children, most of whom they informally adopted to assist family members.  Willie and Jeannette Eason also produced concerts featuring top gospel groups of the day in venues that included the Metropolitan Opera House in Philadelphia.  Willie Eason’s engaging personality and animated manner of speaking give us priceless stories of his colorful life. 

– Robert L. Stone

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  • RS 001-003 Willie and Jeannette Eason, 8/30/01 00:00
  • RS 004-006 Willie and Jeannette Eason, 8/30/01 00:00
Interviewees: Willie and Jeannette Eason
Interviewer: Robert Stone
Date: 8/30/01
Location: 
Language: English
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  • RS 094-099 Willie Eason pt 1, 1/16/94 00:00
  • RS 094-099 Willie Eason pt 2, 1/16/94 00:00
Interviewee: Willie Eason
Interviewers: Robert Stone and Mike Stapleton
Date: 1/16/1994
Location: St. Petersburg, FL
Language: English
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  • RS 106-107 Willie Eason, 1/23/96 00:00
  • RS 108 Willie Eason, 4/18/96 00:00
  • RS 110-112 Willie Eason, 4/19/96 00:00
  • RS 113-114 Willie Eason, 4/21/96 00:00
Interviewee: Willie Eason
Interviewer: Robert Stone
Date: 1/23/96, 4/18/96, 4/19/96, 4/21/96
Location: 
Language: English

For the archive overview:
The Robert Stone Sacred Steel Archive

To learn more about Willie and Jeannette Eason, visit the Jeannette Eason interview page

These interviews were originally recorded for research purposes. They are presented here in their raw state, unedited except to remove some irrelevant sections and blank spaces. All rights to the interviews are reserved by the Arhoolie Foundation. Please do not use anything from this website without permission. info@arhoolie.org

Willie and Jeannette Eason Interview Transcripts:

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